Fanshawe celebrates 50th anniversary with rebuilt Falcon

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The Barenaked Ladies and Hedley were the stars of Fanshawe College’s 50th anniversary celebration, but one sweet ride — custom made and ready to cruise — really stole the show.

As more than 6,600 former Falcons, retirees, current staff and students filed into Budweiser Gardens for the anniversary concert Saturday night, the college showed off its vintage muscle car, a crimson 1967 Ford Falcon that hit the road the same year the college opened its doors.

“The falcon, of course, is the school mascot,” said Don Bester, transportation technology instructor at Fanshawe.

“There’s over 2,000 hours of student work on this.”

The fully restored — and fully loaded — Falcon is a feather in the cap for the students and staff who helped rebuild it.

The school took delivery of the vintage ride — built at the former St. Thomas Ford assembly plant — last October from an owner in Arizona. It had a dingy white paint job and needed a lot of work, Bester said.

“It had a good body in it . . . We took it, we stripped it all. We basically took it and had it sandblasted,” he said.

“No interior, no engine, no transmission, no powertrain, brakes, wheels.”

And no time to waste.

With an 11-month deadline, getting the Ford ready was a tight turnaround, Bester said. The shiny like-new car made its debut at the president’s breakfast Sept. 1.

From custom seats, embroidered with the Fanshawe College falcon mascot, to a new engine, a glossy red paint job, a powerful sound system and fuzzy dice on the rear-view, the car pulls out all the stops.

But it’s not just about esthetics. It’s got performance brakes, an automatic transmission, power steering and electronic gauges.

“We went and bought a crate engine from out of Texas from Ford. It’s a 302, five-litre engine. It’s a performance engine, a racing engine,” said Bester, adding the project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of sponsors.

“It’s been totally redone.”

Bester said the Falcon will be road-worthy soon and will make stops at shows and recruitment events to promote the college and its transportation technology program.

But the ’67 Falcon isn’t the only relic from the past Fanshawe College is restoring.

Just a block away from the 50th anniversary concert, the college is completing its $66.2 million downtown redevelopment of the old Kingsmill’s department store on Dundas Street.

The six-storey building will blend historic parts of the iconic downtown store and cutting-edge technology to become the home of Fanshawe’s information technology and culinary, tourism and hospitality programs beginning September 2018.

— — —

Fanshawe’s ’67 Ford Falcon

  • Built at St. Thomas Ford assembly plant, the first make built at the factory
  • 11 months to fully restore
  • More than 2,000 hours of student and staff work to complete
  • Fully custom interior including electronic gauges
  • New performance engine and brakes
  • Power steering and automatic transmission

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