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1964 Ford Thunderbolt / 427 ram air

In the 1960's Horsepower wars, Ford had determined that the big block Ford FE (427) in a mid-size car would give Ford the weight break it needed to run with the Max Wedge MoPars and the soon to be released Hem's. The little Fairlane 500 was to be the subject of a Frankenstein like project. The Dearborn Steel Tubing Co. (DST), was picked to do all of the conversion work on the Fairlane. It was the brainchild of the Ford guys after seeing the success that Bob Tasca had in running a 406 FE Cross-Bolter in a '62 Fairlane. Ford actually built one 1963 427 Fairlane as a test-mule and destroyed it before the T-Bolt production had begun.

All of the first 11 cars were built at the Dearborn plant as Fairlane 500 2-door sedans, minus all sound deadener, sealer and insulation. The first ones were fitted with fiberglass bumpers for weight savings, then with aluminum bumpers on the later cars. They did not have radios, heaters, or rear window cranking mechanisms. The side windows were Plexiglas, and they were all optioned with the 289/271 horsepower (289 hi-po) engine which were yanked out when they arrived at DST and replaced with the 427. This engine choice gave the cars a 9" rearend and larger brakes and suspension, which they would definitely need in a very short time.

The first run of cars were built in late '63. They were all Vintage Burgundy with tan interiors. The first 11 cars were delivered to Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST), and hand built into full fledged drag monsters. Apparently, 9 were done and presented to the drag teams all at the same time. All of these cars were identical 4-speed cars, except for one automatic. It was driven by Paul Harvey and sponsored by Bob Ford in Dearborn. This car was the only Vintage Burgundy, automatic transmission combination car built. It was destroyed in a crash after being sold in 1965, killing the driver.

The second (cars #12 through #54) and third (cars #55 through #111) runs were a totally different creation. These cars were NOT assembled at the factory, but rather transported to DST in pieces and assembled there. The first 11 cars were complete cars which were built by FORD, taken to DST, and completely dismantled for the Frankenstein transformation. Since the total number of cars was fairly high for such a special type of machine, the second type of assembly was definitely preferable.

All of the cars from #12 to the end of the run were painted Wimbledon White in color. If this is in fact #12, it would be not only the first one to leave the "factory" (DST) with the White paint scheme, but also the first one to be completely built by DST under the new manufacturing technique.

The response among Ford Racers (and other racers who jumped ship to the Blue Oval Boys) was so great that Ford ordered another 57 cars (run three) to be built. These cars were truly wild (like the first ones weren't!!!) with the various engine builders each trying to out do the other guys and building some of them with as much as 650 horsepower when they left the DST plant. Compare this with the original 11 cars that were fitted with the 425hp version of the 427 (even though people said that Ford was probably at least 500hp at the time). They were truly monsters.

Blue Ovals Forever,


Special thanks to Craig Sutton for information on the Thunderbolt. To read more visit Craig at http://www.thunderbolt.cc/