There is little besides a modified hood and missing high beams to indicate what is hiding beneath the fairly docile exterior of this 1964 Ford Fairlane. While it may look like an ordinary midsized passenger car, this particular Fairlane is one of the 100 427 equipped track beasts built by Ford in 1964. It's called the Thunderbolt and this rare piece of muscle car history is currently for sale on Ebay.
Although it is a little hard to imagine almost five decades later, there was a time in Detroit when having the fastest car on the drag strip was a big priority to American auto makers. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday was still a formula that brought buyers into show rooms, and accordingly each manufacturer wanted to have the fastest car on the strip. The muscle car wars of the early 60s were born from this desire and resulted in some very rare and very fast factory experimental cars built solely for 1/4 mile domination, like the 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt seen here.
While the Thunderbolt was sold and campaigned by Ford, the cars were actually put together by a separate shop called Dearborn Steel and Tubing. The company tore down complete Fairlane 500s to build the first eleven Thunderbolts by hand. After the first Thunderbolts were built, Ford shipped partially assembled Fairlanes to DST which became the other 89 Thunderbolts produced in 1964.
Turning a docile 1964 Fairlane 500 into a Thunderbolt was no small task for Detroit Steel and Tubing. The biggest obstacle to overcome was fitting a 427 big block V8 (conservatively rated at 425 horsepower) in a car never designed for an engine larger than a 289 small block V8. The body and other major components of the stock Fairlane 500 were modified, strengthened, stripped, redesigned and lightened significantly on their way to becoming Thunderbolts. Weight saving techniques such as fiberglass body parts, Plexiglas windows, front bucket seats and an aluminum front bumper were employed to make up for the additional weight of the big block. A special air induction system was placed atop the dual 4 barrel equipped high rise intake of the 427, necessitating the distinctive hood bulge and elimination of high beams.
The result of all of this modification was a pure track beast, no longer fit for street use. It was designed with the sole intention of dominating the drag strip and that was exactly what the Thunderbolt did. When new the Thunderbolts were capable of an 11 second 1/4 mile and have since been run into the 9s with modern slicks (Awesome video proof here). The Thunderbolt's impressive drag strip efforts were not without reward and Ford won the 1964 NHRA Super Stock title.
Only 100 Thunderbolts were built in 1964 and in the 47 years since then several Thunderbolts have been destroyed. Of the 100 Thunderbolts built, the first 11 cars built were painted "Vintage Burgundy" and the remaining 89 cars were painted Wimbledon White. Too extreme for street use, the heavily modified Thunderbolts were almost entirely used on the drag strip, a use not particularly good for a car's chances of survival.
This particular example is number 68 of the 100 built that year. According to the current owner, this example managed to escape some of the abuse many of these cars were subjected to, although much of the actual history of this car is unknown. After this car was rediscovered several years ago it was treated to a full restoration at the hands of a Thunderbolt expert.
Not surprisingly, all of this rare history in a nicely restored package doesn't come cheap. With a little over a day left, the bidding is well into the six figures, although still significantly short of the $325,000 Buy-it-now price. While over $300,000 might seem a little hard to swallow for a vehicle you can't use on the street, we imagine a few white knuckle trips down the 1/4 mile might make the price a lot more understandable. Like most people Thunderbolt ownership probably isn't in the cards for us anytime soon, but we'd love to take one out for a few 1/4 mile test drives.