Factory-built race cars are serious business today, and for Blue Oval fans, few resonate like the 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt. Putting a thundering R-code 427 in a mid-sized car that was stripped bare was an awesome combination, and today real Thunderbolts are big money. Fortunately, you can get much of the same experience here at a much more palatable price.
Yes, it's a tribute car, but few tributes actually get all the little stuff right. Most guys throw on a teardrop hood and call it done, but this tribute nails all the little factory tricks that made these cars so special. You'll note the painted front bumper, which was either aluminum or fiberglass depending on the model, the center high-beam headlights were removed to force-feed the engine cold air, and yes, the 2-door sedan body style is the right choice because it was light and strong. Most Thunderbolts were Wimbledon White like this one, so the graphics would show up bright and clear. This one sports a big 427 emblem on the doors, Thunderbolt lettering on the quarters, and a few details like lettering on the front fenders warning people not to lean on them due to their fragile lightweight construction. Fit and finish are quite good for being 10 years old and the car has a definite race-ready look that's far more appealing than bright, over-restored concourse shine.
Bare-bones was the only way the Thunderbolt came from the factory, but the handsome gold bucket seat interior here manages to look upscale at the same time. Factory gauges were minimalist, so enterprising racers added Stewart-Warner dials just like you'll find here, including a tachometer mounted up high and a set of oil pressure and coolant temperature dials underneath. There's no radio, no heater, no clock, all of which added weight without adding power, and the only reason they used buckets is because you could remove the passenger's side to slash even more pounds. The big thin-rimmed steering wheel makes it easy to guide the unassisted steering and the door panels, seat covers, and even the floor coverings are beautifully rendered as they would have been when the car was new. The massive trunk is outfitted with a battery, which helps redistribute weight, but there is no spare, which obviously would be unnecessary in a race machine.
The original Thunderbolts packed a FE-series 427 cubic inch V8, but this tribute gets to the same number a little differently. Instead of a giant chunk of cast iron up there, this one sports a stroked 351 cubic inch V8 which does indeed displace 427 cubic inches. It may not be immediately noticeable under the dual 4-barrel carbs, that giant air cleaner, and twin intake snorkels and from a horsepower standpoint, this one is every bit as strong as its 1960s counterpart. There are desirable upgrades like aluminum heads and a high-output electronic ignition, but when you rack the Toploader 4-speed through the gears, you won't care how it makes the power, only that it pulls like a freight train. Long-tube headers feed a Flowmaster dual exhaust system and it's been outfitted for race with a proper scattershield on the clutch and a 9-inch rear end that doesn't mind having fun. Plain painted steel wheels was the original look and it's replicated here with staggered 215/65/15 front and 275/60/15 rear blackwall radials for just the right stance.
So go out, have some fun, and don't worry about destroying a piece of history, that's the magic of the tribute car. In the meantime, however, be ready for everyone to think you're driving the nastiest piece of factory muscle from the '60s. Call today!