We've seen quite an array of old-school Fox-bodies and Fords over the years, and capturing everything from nitrous junkies, to blower fanatics, to all-motor muscleheads in action always makes for a fun outing.
We're always looking for a different flavor or a build that intrigues us, whether on the street or strip, and while in Milan, Michigan, last summer, we found just that.
When attending any NMRA race, you're sure to come across high-horsepower, snarling machines on the track, but we were pulled in by the looks of this seductive black mistress in the show lineup. This '78 Ford Fairmont belongs to Bart O' Laughlin of Newport, Michigan. Dressed in all black, Bart's sinister Fairmont is no joke.
"Growing up, I was always interested in fast cars," says Bart. "My parents, till this day, tell me stories of how I was always playing with my Matchbox cars in the living room, and I guess that's how it all started. I would name every car on the street when I was a kid, yelling as they passed by."
With a passion for go-fast cars and Mustangs, Bart always knew he would own one. As his childhood days were fading and he approached driving age, his interest began to turn away from mainstream Mustangs towards Ford Fairmonts. With help from his parents, Bart purchased his first '78 Fairmont when he was just 16. After only six months of ownership, however, his enjoyment would come to a screeching halt when a drunk driver ended his first Fairmont love relationship.
Determined to build another, Bart's father found a '78 Fairmont Futura locally. A few-hundred dollars later, the Futura was on its way to Bart's driveway. "It wasn't in the greatest condition," Bart told us. "It had a blown 302 with 163,000 miles, and the body needed some work, but it was exactly what I wanted."
Anxious to get his new ride street ready, Bart and his dad ripped into the stock 302 and freshened it up. Bart's new Futura served as his daily driver for the next five years. During that time, he had it repainted and slowly began to modify it, taking it from a 15-second quarter-mile slug to a steady 13-second contender. "I started racing when I was 18 years old," Bart explained. "I raced it frequently in a street class, but I cut back when the Detroit Dragway closed."
Though his racing days were not as frequent, Bart wanted more from his black mistress. He had B&P Speed Shop of Monroe, Michigan, build a new 351ci Windsor engine that was bored and stroked to 408 ci. Thanks to an Eagle crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons, compression comes in at 10.3:1. A Lunati solid-roller camshaft controls the opening of the intake and exhaust valves. Avenger cylinder heads feed the necessary airflow, as well as an Edelbrock Performer RPM intake. A full MSD ignition is used to ignite the air/fuel mixture.
J&R Transmission's rebuilt Bart's factory C4 transmission; a Coan Racing converter and 3,500-rpm stall help Bart launch his mighty Futura aggressively. Suspension is handled thanks to full-length subframe connectors, D&D front A-arms, HPM rear/upper control arms, and Lakewood shocks and struts. A five-lug conversion allows the Billet Specialties wheels to fit underneath the fenderwells.
Bart's Futura features blacked-out exterior trim all over, custom narrowed front and rear bumpers, and a custom H.O. Fibertrends cowl-induction hood. Inside, the front of the all-black stock interior is fitted with two racing-style seats, and LED lighting and gauges.
In 2008, Bart participated in the NMRA race in Milan, Michigan. Unfortunately, after a collision with the side barrier, his Fairmont would need a whole new facelift. "I was really angry," Bart told us. "Needless to say, it required a whole repaint of the car. We found an old Fairmont, cut off the front, and placed it onto mine. A frame shop also had to repair the frame."
Today, Bart's Fairmont looks better than new, and he's taken it back to the track since the mishap. With the stroked-out 408, he brought home a personal best of 11.09 at 122 mph. "It's a little radical, but the best thing about the car is I can drive it to Milan, race it, refill the air pressure, and drive it home. With some tuning and an antisway bar, I'm hoping for high 10s."
There's no doubt Bart has been down a long road with his Fairmont, but he's built one sinister street and track monster. He says he's working on a new plan for his Fairmont but wouldn't give all the details. Just don't be too surprised if you see a 5.0L Coyote howling from underneath the hood.