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ZH Fairlane & Marquis – 1976 – 1979
From a high of 50 percent, Ford’s share of the luxury car market had slumped to around 27 percent at the time the ZH Fairlane was introduced. Holden’s Statesman and Caprice models were providing stiff competition and sales of European cars were increasing. The new Fairlane was large and imposing in the American tradition. The Custom model was dropped from the range and the ZH Fairlane was offered as a 500 or the luxury Marquis. Automatic transmission was still standard and there was a choice of either 4.9-litre or 5.8-litre V8s.
Standard equipment included steel-belted radial tyres, limited slip differential, rear disc brakes and intermittent windscreen wipers. Standard on the Marquis was air conditioning, power windows and twin lounge style seats in front, with individual arm-rests. A third passenger could be accommodated in front if necessary.
The Marquis had four wheel disc brakes, limited slip diff, quartz halogen headlights, steel-belted radial tyres, automatic transmission, power steering, push button radio, rear seat inertia belts, intermittent wipers and the 4.9-litre V8 engine were standard equipment (the 5.8-litre power plant was optional). Front seats had six way electric adjustment.
The introduction of the ZH Fairlane marked the end of the Custom. The 500 became the base model with the new Marquis becoming the top of the range. Deliberately styled to look as different from the Falcon range as possible, the new Fairlanes were bigger and heavier and the only outer panels shared with the Falcon were the front door skins.
The well proven 351 V8 was modified to comply with the recently introduced antipollution design rules and fitted to the big Ford. The engine/chassis match was close to perfect. For a big car, the ZH Fairlane handled very well.
The Fairlane Sportsman was one of the limited edition versions of the ZH model. It featured a colour-keyed vinyl roof, chrome plated door mirrors, Volante alloy wheels and side protection strips.
The interior featured a redesigned instrument panel, made from plastic for the first time. Options included a tougher Outback country suspension kit, a factory-fitted towbar and a 128 litre long-range fuel tank. Updates in May 1978 to both models saw some changes to the carburettor to give lower fuel consumption.