Tom Cotter finds a moonshiner’s fast Ford family hauler

Jordan Lewis

I hadn’t seen or even spoken to David Sosebee in at least 25 years. We met in the late 1980s when he was an aspiring NASCAR Cup driver and I was signing up teams to compete in the Christmas 500 on a NASCAR-style speedway called Thunderdome in Melbourne, Australia. David competed in his ex–Junior Johnson Monte Carlo festooned with Dawsonville Pool Room sponsorship decals, and even though he didn’t win (Bobby Allison took the checkered), we struck up a friendship as we chatted about old cars while sitting on the Thunderdome pit wall.

David is a colorful character, and I was to discover he came from a colorful family. Back in the States, he invited me down to Dawsonville, Georgia, to see his “yard full of old race cars.” At the time, he owned several older NASCAR race cars, including those previously driven by Darrell Waltrip and Tim Richmond. So, a few months ago when the Hagerty film crew and I began planning a Barn Find Hunter trip to north Georgia, I called David to see what might remain of his old cars.

“I don’t have too many race cars anymore, but I have an old Ford I think you’ll like,” he said.

Ford Fairlane Barn Find Tom Cotter wide
Jordan Lewis

Soon I was standing on Sosebee family land deep in the north Georgia mountains. David reminded me that his father, Gober, had been an auto mechanic by day and a local stock-car racing legend and moonshine runner nights and weekends. He was also a visionary: Following World War II, Gober had plans to carve the first high-banked superspeedway into the side of a mountain on the family’s property years before the Darlington track claimed that title in 1950.

Gober raced mostly Ford coupes beginning in 1939 at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta until retiring in 1964. “He won the last three races he ever drove,” said David. By then, Gober had also quit hauling “’shine” from the mountain towns of Dawsonville, Dahlonega, and Cleveland to suburban Atlanta.

His hauling days behind him, Gober decided the family needed a new car to replace the old 1957 Chevy. Interestingly, the new car he ordered could have easily been converted into a more modern liquor hauler.

Ford Fairlane Barn Find Tom Cotter front corner
Jordan Lewis

“Dad ordered the Fairlane in 1964 directly from a Mr. Johnson at the Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Atlanta,” said David. “Dad liked peppy cars, so he ordered it with a 289 Ford engine.” It was also equipped with a four-speed gearbox, dual exhaust, and heavy-duty suspension. All those high-performance parts in a rather pedestrian four-door sedan. “But he didn’t want any power-robbing accessories like power steering or air conditioning, because he wanted it to go,” said David.

“When the car was finished, my father got his insurance papers and went directly to the Ford assembly plant to pick it up,” remembered David, who was 9 years old at the time. “They told my father he’d have to pick up his new Fairlane at the dealership, but Daddy was adamant that he was going to drive it home from the factory.”

Before things got heated with assembly-line personnel, Johnson appeared from his office and instructed his plant workers that Gober would indeed drive the new car home. It has been tucked away and well cared for ever since.

Ford Fairlane Barn Find Tom Cotter interior
Jordan Lewis

Young David and his brother, Brian, rode in the Fairlane’s back seat to holiday and family events. “Dad mostly drove. My mother, Vaudell, was used to automatic transmissions by then,” he said. This car is likely the only four-door Fairlane ever built with so many high-performance options. The Fairlane was seldom driven, accumulating a mere 69,687 miles in the ensuing 60 years.

I asked David why his father didn’t order a sportier two-door coupe. Was it because the four-door sedan could more easily haul the family? “Probably not,” he said. “By the 1960s, most moonshine haulers were using four-door sedans, because they were easier to unload when they got to the destination.” Gober probably just wanted to cover his bases in case his retirement plan didn’t work out.




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    Those Ford coupes that Gober drove beginning in 1939 at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, belonged to my grandfather. We have lots of black and white pictures of ol’ #39 at Lakewood. On a long ago episode of Hee-Haw, Junior Samples was asked if he had ever been to Atlanta. He said that he had been there and seen Gober Sosebee run the 39 car in the lake. I’m sure most folks watching thought that was some writer’s joke, but it was true.

    Lots of history in David Sosebee’s family! Love that he still has his dad’s wagon! I grew up away from the Waltrip side of my family but still made it to a good bit of NASCAR races! I want to say that someone was struck in the stands right near me by a lost tire caused by a wreck! I don’t think the person lived! But I did love at Longhorn Speedway as Family that married into the Waltrip side of my family raced there since probably 78′ or 79′ till the track was sadly closed down! But I believe he just retired from the race track life in the last couple of years! Then my Step Father most if not all of his 5 brothers and a many of their close friends raced at Longhorn Speedway! I remember being on the pit and the stands and a good majority of the people there were family or might as well be! I’ve had a few fast cars but never made it to the track! Not racing on the track definitely didn’t keep me from going fast! I averaged around 14 to 16 speeding tickets a year! Became uninsurable at one point briefly! Even had to pay a reinstatement fee on my Driver’s licence at the age of 27 during my first ever visit to thr DMV! I asked how is it possible that I have to pay an reinstatement fee for a license I’ve never had! They said that in my juvenile years I had accumulated so many tickets that they had no other choice but to issue me a drivers license to keep up with them all! Always wondered why I was always able to dry off after being pulled over for speeding and almost Every time they would ask numerous times if I was sure I didn’t have a Drivers License! I would love to hear the stories and see some pics of the old Darrell Waltrip car or cars he has or did have! Awesome story and very well written! Hope to see more articles like this one! Anyone bored and care to add hare any Darrell and Michael Waltrip stories or pics I’m going to drop my email here! Thanks in Advance!

    The picture is of a 1965 Fairlane. If it was special ordered in 1964 it was officially the 1965 model. If in doubt google pictures of the 1964 Fairlane. My Brother owned a 64 back then.

    You are correct that that is a 1965 model year car. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe there were several states back in the day that would put the year they were sold new as the year model of the car on the title. I’ve seen a number of cars that the year model on the title was of the previous model body style and everything was correct as to VIN and other identifiers on the title. This has caused a lot of confusion over the years. If this car was sold new in 1964 and Georgia was one of the states that did this at the time it could very well be listed as a 1964 on the title.

    You are correct, but it worked both ways – cars unsold during their model year were titled with the year finally sold. MI DMV will let you correct it, but all the leg-work is up to the owner

    Definitely a 1965. My Dad ordered a 2-door brand new and gave it to his Mother (my Grandmother) when he got a new T-Bird in 1966. I got the Fairlane in 1971 when she passed. Bittersweet moment.

    s hellman’s comment. what a tool. original article that captures an interesting history. it is not the car per se but the history that cotter repeatedly uncovers…

    1964 I worked for a Chev dealer in OK. I was their “used car tech,” detailer by any other name. They sold a new 409 4 door sedan car and took in as a trade, sight unseen, a 1956 Olds 4 door. So, I had to drive in the S.E. part of the state to drop off the new car and drive the used back to the dealership. The Olds was beautiful and ran real well. Once I was back at the dealership everyone was real happy with the trade in. So, I started detailing it for the used car lot…. but when I opened the trunk, it was one HUGE TANK than even went under the back seat of the car! It fit like a glove and even had a fill cap like on an airplane wing. It was a moonshine hauler’s dream! They wouldn’t let me buy it!

    innertrader, my Dad had a ’56 2-door Holiday 88 in 1956 and then in 1981 we found a1956 4-door 88 Holiday – can TOTALLY see how they could have been a good moonshiner’s car. That 4-bbl, 324.3 V-8 was fast. Dad remembers in 56 he used to line up to 55, 56 Chev’s and they all wanted to race – dad rarely did, but when he stomped on it (the Chev’s likely had 283’s?) he’d leave them in the dust in a two-tone, Green and White Olds with deluxe interior, chrome trim, rockets on the hood and sides, and his arm out the window! Awesome.

    RobH, I’m sure the Olds could beat the Chevies, they were torque-monsters! But, in ’55 and ’56 Chevy only had 235 sixes, or 265 V-8s. In ’57, you could get a 283 and 265 V8s, or a 235 Six. Just so you’ll know………

    Another wonderful story, Tom! Great history and hopefully one day, Gober’s car will once again roar down the road, making people point and smile!

    My father bought a metallic blue 1965 Fairlane wagon as his first new car in 1965. First car I learned to drive in when I turned 16. We owned a small corner grocery store in Hamilton, Ontario and it was essential for grocery deliveries in the days when we took customer orders over the phone, wrote them a list, and did no-charge door-to-door deliveries. It was a blast. 289 Automatic, no PS, no PB, no A/C, no power windows. On trips to visit relatives in Niagara Falls NY, my younger sisters used to sleep on blankets in the the rear cargo area on late-night returns home. Loved that car. As with many other things in life, wish I still had it.

    I remember seeing this episode of “Barn Finds” on YouTube, a while back. I enjoyed the further details shared at that time. Truly a nicely-maintained example of a potential ‘rum runner’.

    My Dad also bought a ’65 Fairlane 4-Dr Sedan, in September of 1964. I can still see him coming up the street to our house, as I waited anxiously with Mom on the front porch. I was SO disappointed! That beige Fairlane with blackwall tires was pretty blah! After the ’64 Fairlane he traded in, the new one had nothing special going for it. It DID turn out to be a very dependable and well-used car for the family. And Dad often liked to stoplight race the humble 289-2V equipped 4-Door, usually not succeeding in a ‘win’, naturally! My current ’67 Ranchero has the same Engine ahead of a 4-Speed Transmission, however I know better than to do any sort of throttle blast with such a small powerplant; I mean what’s the point?!

    Lots of good memories in the comments. Thanks for sharing.
    My grandmother had a 1968 Ford Fairlane that she gifted to my sister and brother in law. He cleaned it up, painted it white, put some nice aluminum wheels on it, replaced the black tonneau cover, did a little engine work (a289 I believe) and had him a hot rod! It was a great grocery getter and a nice little sleeper.

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