If you already had a cool street car, and wanted to turn it into a racecar, but it was too nice to cut up, what would you do? Well, if you’re Vernon Grizzel from Atlanta, Georgia, you commission Tim Lyons of Lyons Custom Motorsports in Rossville, Georgia, to build a second car, specifically for racing.
Grizzel already had a ’64 Ford Fairlane and ran a few NMCA races with it, but the bug to go faster bit him. “I told him what he had was too nice to do what he wanted, so he found another ’64 Fairlane body and brought it to me and we went from there,” explained Lyons of how the process to complete the clone began.
Lyons started with the bare body, then built the tube chassis from the ground up. “It’s a really neat chassis, and we could do anything we want with it,” Lyons proudly proclaimed of the four-link, full back-half, double-frame rail Fairlane. “It’s basically a Radial vs the World chassis if we wanted it to be, and we built it so that anything we want to do in the future, we won’t have to back up and redo anything.” An unusual project for the shop that primarily focuses on Ford Mustangs, Lyons enjoyed the opportunity to expand his horizons and think outside the box.
Once the chassis was complete, Lyons fitted the fun parts – the engine and transmission. The naturally aspirated Ford FE engine (which Ford introduced to replace the short-lived Y-block) was built by noted FE guru, Blair Patrick, who handles many builds for the Nostalgia Super Stock crew. A C4 transmission was then paired with the vintage-era power plant.
Shocks and struts from Menscer Motorsports can be found all around the car, as Grizzel wanted the top parts possible incorporated into his build, and Weld V-series wheels shrouded in sticky Mickey Thompson 315 drag radial rubber were bolted on.
Next, Lyons mounted the fiberglass doors, front end, and other panels necessary to get the Ford looking more like a Fairlane rather than a fixer-upper. The goal was to build a super-light car for Grizzel to run in the FE shootout races, and possibly some NMRA and NMCA Open Comp competition. “We don’t know the exact weight since we haven’t scaled it yet, and since it came to me as a shell, we didn’t have a base weight to start with,” noted Lyons, who’s shooting for a final weight of 2,600 pounds with the driver, but isn’t sure if they’ll meet the mark given the fairly heavy iron block under the hood.
As for the beautiful burgundy hue that encapsulates the Fairlane, that was custom mixed by Grizzel himself. “It started out as a Chevrolet color, and was mixed with some others. Vernon [Grizzel] painted it and came up with the color, so no one really knows what exactly it is,” laughed Lyons, who took special care to re-use all the factory headlight bezels and grills to give the Fairlane a “real car” look. Lyons even custom-fabricated a chin spoiler and rear wing out of sheet metal to add the perfect finishing touches to the Ford.
The project took approximately eight months to complete, and all that’s left for Lyons to do is to finish out the plumbing, get the wiring completed, and see how fast the Fairlane will go. “When Vernon gets done playing with the naturally aspirated combo, we’ve talked about doing something else with a power adder, maybe even a big block Chevy engine with twin turbos,” Lyons alluded of the abundance of future potential the build possesses.