The Ford Thunderbolt
And what to our thundering ears should appear rolling from the Ford factory sometime in 1963?
Why it was an experimental car from Ford Motor called the Thunderbolt.
This lightning fast car was actually a limited production, factory experimental, drag race only automobile built by Ford for the 1964 production year and was based on the Ford Fairlane. It was called the Ford Thunderbolt.
They made 100 of these beasts that included the modified"high rise" 427 cu in V8 engine that had dual Holley 4 barrel carbs. 49 were 4 speeds and 51 were automatics.
Horsepower was rated at 425 hp but other sources estimate it was closer to 600 hp. This was enough for Ford to secure the NHRA Superstock title for Ford in 1964.
The first test of the 4-speed Thunderbolt took place at Lions Drag Strip in November 1963 and it ran 11.61 seconds at 124.8 mph.
The record for an authentic Thunderbolt with modern slicks is 9.23 seconds at 151 mph.
The Thunderbolt required major suspension modifications to the front and rear suspension and strengthening to handle the brute horsepower of the 427 engine.
Also to cut weight fiberglass doors, hood, fenders, bumpers, and plexiglass side and rear windows. The teardrop ram air hood was pinned into position to save weight on hinges.
Some racing mods include tubular exhaust headers, electric fuel pump, trunk mounted battery, locking differential, auxiliary gauges, and special drag race tires and wheels from Goodyear and Mickey Thompson.
An aluminum scatter shield was added for safety. The claimed compression was 13. 5:1, which is pretty close to a diesel engine compression ratio!
Most street accessories like visors, radio, heater, carpeting, etc were eliminated or replaced with lighter weight versions. Final drive was 4:44.1 for the automatics and 4:57.1 for the 4 speeds.
These rockets were built in partner with Andy Hotton of Dearborn Steel Tubing from partially built Fairlane bodies.
The first 11 cars were painted in "vintage burgundy". The remaining cars were "Wimbledon white".
The engines reflected the "K-code" solid lifter 289 Hi-Po engine and the Ford Thunderbolt had a special plate riveted on the inside glove box door which read: This vehicle has been built specially as a lightweight competitive car and includes certain fiberglass and aluminum components. Because of the specialized purpose for which this car has been built and in order to achieve maximum weight reduction, normal quality standards of the Ford Motor Company in terms of exterior panel fit and surface appearance are not met on this vehicle.This information is included on this vehicle to assure that all customers who purchase this car are aware of the deviation from the regular high appearance quality standards of the Ford Motor Company.
We would love to see a drag race between the stock Shelby AC Cobra and the stock Ford Thunderbolt. What do you think?
The Ford Motors V8 engine series FE & FT 1 & 2 Generation 2 of 4
G1 engines cont...
Beginning on September–04, 1957 the all-new 1958 Edsel is for sale to the public and it is powered by the also brand new FE 361 (5.9 L) engine. These latest innovations in Ford technology are unveiled with much fanfare two full months before any other Ford product would be on sale with an FE or FT power plant. The 361 FE engine, mounted with a four barrel carburetor, was manufactured to serve a variety of markets including law enforcement and emergency services. This special vehicle is enhanced with all heavy duty components for use where top performance is the criteria, although it is spartan in luxury items. The “Police Power Pack” was sold one unit at a time, but also widely purchased by volume which could have been processed by fleet agents at any Ford dealer in every-town, USA.
The FT 360 cu in (5.9 L) truck engine has the same bore hole size of 4.05” (102.87 mm) as the 390, but uses the short 3.5 “ (88.90 mm)stroke of the 352. The main components of this engine are more substantial than the two automobile engines plus a little tinkering to the carburetor and distributer at the factory and the 360 nets similar performance. Mounted with a two barrel carburetor the 360 produces 215 bhp (160.3 kW) at 4200 rpm and develops a torque peak of 375 lb-ft. at 3600 rpm. The 360 could have been ordered in a Ford pick-up truck produced from 1968 until the end of 1976 and the only way to distinguish the 360 engine from the 390 is by measuring the length of the crank stroke.
The Ford FE 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine was popular for many applications including very good performance in the lighter weight vehicles although it is overshadowed by the 427 and 428. The longer 3.785 “(102.87 mm) stroke of the 390 is why the combustion chamber being larger than the 360 although the engines look the same. A two barrel carburetor on the 390 is delivers 265 hp (197.6 kW) at 4100 rpm, but a four barrel (V4) would kick the rating up to 320 bhp (238.6 kW). The Mustang in ’67 and ’68 could have had this engine under the hood and the 390 with a four barrel is rated at 335 hp (250 kW). In 1961 a high performance 390 with solid lifters,10.5:1 compression, an aluminum intake manifold mounted by a four barrel and cast iron header exhaust manifold which delivers 375 hp (280 kW). Many models including the Fairlane GT, the S code Mercury Cougars and Galaxie models would be shipped from the factory with an aluminum manifold in the trunk that is set up for tri-power (2X3-two barrel carburetors) which would give the 390 up to 401 hp (299 kW).
The 406 cu in (6.65 L) is actually 405.7 cu in, but rounded up to 406 and comes with the 3.785 inch (96.14 mm) stroke as the 390. The 406 looks a lot like the 390. But the block casting is a new one with thicker walls and has a bore of 4.13 inches (104.90 mm). The main bearings are cross bolted, meaning the mains are held with bolts at each end from the underside, but bolts through the side of the block casting as well. There is a spacer or shim between the face of the block and the end cap to eliminate the cap from “walking” under the demanding conditions on a race track. This feature is still used today by a number of manufacturers for many of the most powerful racing engines. The 406 was in production for less than two years when it is superseded by the 427 in '63.