The Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt was a limited production, factory experimental, drag race only automobile built by the Ford Motor Company in 1964.
A total of 100 units were produced. Based on the Fairlane and named for a factory experimental Fairlane of 1963, the Thunderbolt combined the light weight of Ford’s intermediate-sized body introduced in 1962 with a “high rise” 427 CID V8 engine with dual Holley four-barrel carburetors intended for use in the much larger Galaxie. That engine as used in the Galaxie for NASCAR racing did well, but the Galaxie was simply too heavy an automobile in stock trim to be drag raced successfully; so-called “lightweight” 427-powered Galaxies were built both for stock car racing as well as drag racing during the 1964 model year, although these cars were not modified to the extent of the Thunderbolt.
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As installed in the Thunderbolt, the engine was (like all US cars, due to insurance regulations) conservatively rated at 425 horsepower at 6000 RPM. Estimates placed the actual output at +600 horsepower.
In Thunderbolt trim, the Fairlane was three inches shorter than a Galaxie and weighed a significant 700 pounds less. Installing the engine in a vehicle intended for an engine no larger than 289 CID required major reworking and relocation of the car’s front suspension components and the modification and strengthening of the suspension mounting areas.
Fiberglass doors, hood, front fenders and even the front bumper on the earliest cars along with Plexiglas side and rear windows aided in weight reduction; the hood with its distinctive raised “teardrop” ram air scoop designed to draw hot air from the engine compartment was pinned in position, eliminating the need for a hood latch and making access to the engine quick and easy during the course of a race. Later cars had aluminum front bumpers in place of the fiberglass unit due to racing regulations.