Family Tradition Tags a Rare 1962½ Fairlane Sports Coupe
by Jeff Barnes
George Rogers wants to talk about his car – but first let him tell you about its plates.
Beginning almost a hundred years ago, a Rogers has driven a car with Nebraska license plates reading “1962.” The tradition started in 1919 when his grandfather Edgar took on a very interesting job – that of chauffeur to George and Sara Joslyn (yes, THE Joslyns of Joslyn Castle fame).
“My grandfather lived above the estate’s carriage house,” said Rogers, a professor at Clarkson College. “I have pictures of my grandfather and father in the picture, at the castle. I recently identified a photo at the castle’s archives, with my grandfather holding open the door of a 1919 Packard for the Joslyns.”
The first car the “1962” plates went on was the couple’s 1913 Stevens-Duryea, and as used to be the custom, always received that number when renewing the plates. They were transferred to Edgar after Sara Joslyn’s death in 1940. He regularly renewed the plates and they stayed with the family not only through time but a tornado. “They went through the ’75 tornado at 84th and L, on a 1970 Maverick flipped upside down,” Rogers said.
The Maverick was, of course, a Ford and Rogers has always been a Ford guy, and the plates now sit, not too coincidentally, on Rogers’ 1962 ½ Ford Fairlane Sports Coupe. Having the number on the model year is a neat trick, but his first car actually was a 1962 Fairlane that his grandfather gave him. Years after selling it, he went looking for one again in the 1990s.
“My sons knew I was looking for one and found it in the paper for $250,” said Rogers, then a professor at UNL. “It was a piece of crap – it still had 1975 plates on it so hadn’t been run since then. There was no engine in it, and my wife wouldn’t even let it in the garage for the mice she thought would be in it.”
Still teaching full-time, it was only partially restored when he took a job at Purdue University. He finished it in 2004 while still there, making it an eight-year restoration.
“It was hard to budget out the time while working, but I did everything myself,” Rogers said, with the exception of MAACO doing the paint job, recreating the original “Heritage Burgundy” color. That color was originally intended for the Thunderbird, he said, but he identified it from the VIN and the build sheet found under the back seat.
Rogers’ Fairlane is the Sports Coupe, coming out in mid-year 1962. “This was rare – Ford took the Falcon bucket seats and console, put them in, and called it a sports coupe,” he said. “In 1963 they added a lot more refinements to it.”
He installed a rebuilt 221 c.i. Engine, rebuilt the transmission, put in all new suspension and new leaf springs, and redid the whole electrical system. “I rewired it for a modern fuse box so it would be safer to drive,” Rogers said, “and put in an alternator for better driveability and halogen lights. I also replaced the single-bowl with a dual-bowl master brake cylinder so brakes wouldn’t go out completely on me.”
He drives about 700 miles a year with the car, with the occasional local show but especially trips like the Fairlane Nationals. The next Fairlane Nationals is at Dearborn, Mich., he said, so next year will be one of the rare times he has the car on a trailer. “It’s not a show car, it’s a driver,” Rogers said, “and that was always the plan.”
(Originally published in the Omaha World-Herald, October 2013)