Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1969 Fairlane Cobra

Raven Cobra

Mixing a racing heritage with period-correct enhancements

Story Al Rogers

Larry and Lynn Slevin had one rule: maintain the simple sleeper look of a 1969 Fairlane while resurrecting the mystique of a Cobra.

Larry was raised in a small Indiana town, and his father was a salesperson at a local Ford dealership for 40 years, so he had a Ford background. As a teen, Larry hung around the dealership. One day, they put him to work cleaning cars. He learned how to detail used cars and his affection for the Ford Motor Company nameplate started to bloom.

Larry’s first car was a 1965 Fairlane with a 289 2V engine, one the dealership had taken in as trade. He added a four-barrel carburetor setup with chrome engine dress-up kit and thought it was the greatest car of all time. It ignited a lifelong Fairlane passion, which would become evident many years later.

Larry and Lynn first met Jim Plimpton at the 2006 Woodward Dream Cruise. During a casual conversation there, Larry and Lynn learned Plimpton had this car for sale at his business, Authentic Automotive, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It had been sitting for 25 years and needed a complete restoration, having spent its entire life residing in the upper Midwest where snow, road salt and rust are the enemy. One look at the car was all it took. Larry states, “It spoke to me.” They agreed to purchase the two-door hardtop in April 2007.

The original owner had ordered this Raven Black 1969 Fairlane Cobra with the sole purpose of transforming it into a drag racer for competition at the local strip. This explains the 18,931 miles on the odometer. When not making strikes at the dragstrip, the Snake was stowed.

The 1969 Cobra was produced at the Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri. It was delivered to Swendson Ford in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on December 4, 1968.

The car arrived at the Slevins’ doorstep as a rolling shell in the spring of 2007. The new owners brought in close friend Kevin Sharp to assist with the transformation. During the next four months, a team of three assembled the car for that year’s Woodward Dream Cruise. They proceeded to tweak and make it as factory correct as possible, including installing the original-style emission system and additional authentic parts.

Under the hood, there’s a 428-4V non-Ram Air engine with 4.30 Traction-Lok axle ratio and four-speed close ratio manual transmission. This combination resembles the “Drag Pack” that Ford Motor Company offered a few months after the featured Fairlane was produced. The Ford factory hoodscoop option was not ordered.

Interior features include a full broadcloth vinyl bench seat, radio delete and tinted glass. The most striking option is the factory-installed full black vinyl top. The Raven Black paint, black cloth interior and black vinyl top is one of 86 trim combinations produced for the 1969 Ford Torino Cobra model year build. Larry Slevin added a set of period-correct Goodyear bias-ply white-lettered tires to give the Cobra a sporty look.

The austere interior, full vinyl top, steel wheels and poverty center caps makes this black snake a real sleeper. The total package is alluring, menacing and stellar when viewed for the first time.

As a result of their planning, determination and patience, the Slevins have an award-winning 1969 Fairlane Cobra in their stable. After earning the prestigious gold medallion at the 2010 Fairlane Club Nationals, the Cobra was invited to the 2010 Concours d’Elegance of Americas at Meadow Brook as part of a select muscle car group. In the fall of 2010, in stiff competition, a silver award was earned at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in Rosemont, Illinois.

With Larry Slevin behind the wheel, the Raven Cobra is scheduled to take a trip down memory lane one-quarter mile at a time during the 2011 Pure Stock Drag Racing Nationals in Stanton, Michigan. Larry states, “Time to prove this Cobra’s more than a pretty face while cutting it loose at the staging lane.”


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