1985 Ford Fairlane ZL 4.1 EFI from Australia and New Zealand


Luxury at its best, very affordable, reliable car


As usual the ford door handles let it down, always breaking in 6month intervals, the front ones lasting longer.

Roof lining sagged.

Air con only worked on 4 and not 1,2,3. easily fixed by auto electrician.

General Comments:

This would have to be one of the best cars I have ever owned. Very comfortable,luxurious and very large interior, comfortably seating 3 adults in back. The digital dash cluster is excellent and clear, showing your exact speed. the instruments around the dash cluster make it easy and accessible without taking your eyes off the road.

The interior is well spaced out and is modern for its age. The electric windows never gave me any trouble, as did the electrical system (bar the air con fan). The car is fast off the mark with the 4.1 litre and starts first go everytime, even on cold mornings. It did chew up a bit of juice when in traffic and if not kept tuned. The car aged very well and with 380 on the clock, it was still going well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th April, 2004

11th Mar 2006, 21:23

To fix you fan in the bottom of the hearer box there is a little swich take it out and clean it I had the same prob.

28th May 2006, 15:24

I have just bought a ZL and plan on restoring her all original except a 351 Windsor and Borg warner 4 speed manual. Does anyone know where I can get the dash re-calibrated when I drop my 351 in?

1985 Ford Fairlane ZL 4.1 litre EFI from Australia and New Zealand


Luxury power and comfort for the price of shopping scooter


Ongoing problems with air-con.

Head gasket blew at 180000km.

Door handles worn.

Central locking playing up.

General Comments:

Very powerful, quiet, smooth, solid, roomy, comfortable vehicle.

Auto is exceptionally responsive and particularly smooth in changes.

Cruise control functions better than most cars of its decade (VN Calais for example).

Road handling is better than equivalent Holden.

The 1985 ZL Fairlane is a special car - the Fairlane subject of this review, particularly so. It was bought by my father under the Ford Employee Car scheme. He purchased it in 1986 with 13,000km on it, just before he retired in 1987. It had been an executive car. List price in 1985 was $25,050. Most motoring reviewers suggest that the ZL Fairlane was the best Fairlane Ford ever produced. It certainly had refinements that made it the top selling prestige car in Australia for four years (1984 - 1988) until the introduction of the NA Fairlane.

My father was fastidious in the upkeep of his vehicles so that when he died in 1995, my mother continued to drive and service it as always. In July of 2003, my mother started having some minor problems. The exterior door handles were becoming hard to operate. The central locking was playing up and the air-conditioning had to be re-gassed on a regular basis and, horror of horrors, she had a flat battery at a friend's place. Needless to say it was her fault - she'd inadvertently left the ignition on.

However, the previous year at 180,000 km she blew the head gasket. She repaired it for around $1000 with other service items. But an element of doubt about the car's reliability had surfaced. Every service thereafter something little needed doing. The glovebox light, the auto release for the number plate/fuel access, the sloppy auto shift. Yes, the car was wearing out. At 207,000 km Mum decided to trade it in on a 1997 NL Falcon Ghia. I'd always said I'd give her the trade in value and take it off her hands when the time came. However, Mum wouldn't accept. She gave me the car.

It cost about $1500 to roadworthy (including four new tyres worth $440). It needed left and right lower ball joints, all four upper T/arm bushes, left lower rear T/arm bush, fuel hose replacement at fliter, steering box and gear selector adjustment, left headlamp replacement and rust repair to the R/front door pillar.

I've driven it for just over four months and it now has 210,560 km on the digital clock (what Mum missed most in the new Falcon). It's due for service at 215,000 km. The central locking has finally failed and the front passenger door won't open from the inside. The air-conditioning doesn't work. I'm told it needs a new pump. I fixed the oil leak by resetting the rocker cover with silicon gasket. It was running rough at idle and sometimes stalling in drive (Mum's major annoyance before giving it to me). A savvy mechanic suggested I replace the HT leads. However, before I considered the HT leads, I found the distributor in a pitiful state. Mum's mechanic had been neglectful. My penknife cleaned up the white spots and all was well. But I'll probably go ahead a replace the HT leads anyway next service.

Dad's car is unusual in sporting a sun visor. I haven't seen another. It certainly looks like it's come in from the country. The head lining has come unstuck and fallen an inch from the roof. Didn't bother short Mum, but occasionally I have to settle into my seat to avoid it. The interior is in pristine condition but there's little rust lines appearing on the boot edges, etc. I don't keep it under cover.

And worst of all, there's a cigarette burn between my legs in the driver's seat. Dad didn't smoke. He did, but he gave up before the ZL. After the '59 Chev, Dad never drove anything but Fairlanes - and I ended up with best (although I rued the discontinuation of the V8 for those few years). I reckon it'd be nice with a 302 in it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th July, 2003

4th Apr 2006, 05:16

Yeah, very nice and comfortable cars, however I have found that their upkeep and fuel consumption is prohibitive. My engine blew thoroughly at 227,000 ks, gearbox expired at 238,000ks, now terminal electrical problems at 245,000ks. Apart from this I enjoyed the car greatly, just wish I had upgraded before I spent so much money on it.

1985 Ford Fairlane 4.1 from Australia and New Zealand


Big barge best for country driving


Ball joints needed replacing.

Fuel injectors needed replacing.

ECU needed replacing.

Electric mirror on the drivers side didn't work.

General Comments:

The car is exceptionally comfortable.

Great for Freeway cruising, but city driving can really slurp through the juice. 650Km from an 80L tank on the freeway, but only 250Km in Sydney traffic.

Obviously very dated now, but also very, very roomy.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th February, 2003