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First look: Fairlane buses a move

Six-box under: Underneath that Ford barge lies DNA from Mazda’s svelte 6.

Ford’s six-seater lifestyle bus concept is like no other Fairlane before it

28 Jan 2005

FORD used this year's Detroit motor show to unveil a mid-sized people-mover concept it calls the Fairlane.

But the name has nothing to do with the Australian-built sedan, rather it is called Fairlane in honour of company founder Henry Ford’s sprawling country estate.

The six-seater wagon is meant to evoke active lifestyle friendliness and flexibility, with a hint of luxury.

The design reflects Ford’s current horizontal line obsession interspersed within geometric forms, deep windows and flared wheel arches.

There’s also more than a smattering of the new Land Rover Discovery about its overall surfacing and blunt uprightness.

It is likely to morph into wagon versions of the US-market Ford Fusion and luxury Lincoln Zephyr sedans.

However, despite its name and appearances, the Fairlane’s internal architecture is the company’s CD3 (Mazda 6) platform.

In this instance it’s an on-demand all-wheel drive application rather than the Japanese car’s front-wheel drive one, but it does use variations of the Mazda’s four-wheel independent suspension structure.

27 center image Motivation is via a revised version of the Ford’s familiar 3.0-litre V6. Dubbed Duratec 30, it features variable valve timing and is married to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Reflecting its fantasy role as a concept, the cabin features "automotive firsts like maple bentwood, Lloyd Loom woven rattan made from recyclable paper".

On a more practical note, there are three rows of seating, with the back two folding flush for extra carrying capacity. Meanwhile, the driver’s seat boasts a low dash for excellent visibility.

Ford says the Fairlane concept’s platform is spread over about 10 vehicles for North American consumption – which should amount to 800,000 units annually if sales targets are met.

But there is no word as to if or when the Fairlane Concept will get the green light.

The Fairlane name first surfaced during the 1950s in the US and has denoted Ford’s long-wheelbase Falcon-based sedans locally since 1967 – by which time the badge was being phased out in North America.

So it’s the first time in about 40 years that Americans have seen a new Fairlane from Ford on home soil.

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