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Factory 600 HP 64 Ford Thunderbolt: Competition for the Shelby?

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?


14 thoughts on “Factory 600 HP 64 Ford Thunderbolt: Competition for the Shelby?”


  1. Beautiful car! Going to build a ’63 Fairlane Thunderbolt throw back car. Not going to use the 427 though. Dropping a 302 Boss in mine.

    1. why, 302 is baby engine, little pony motors, 427 is a torque monster and doesn’t blow head gaskets every month. It’s your choice. good luck

    2. Because I have all the parts for a small block build already. Using one of the new Boss blocks and GT40 heads. I cannot afford the 427 route, as I would have to buy everything all over again.

      1. Not many people could afford the 427. Not many of them available

  2. I saw these at Lyons Drag Strip; then later the Mustang fastback 427 at Pomona Winternationals. yeah the kicked everyone’s but; 0

  3. Another fine car. Factory built to drive to the drag strip. Very nice and very fast.

  4. 2018 Dodge Demon
    While not called a factory experimental car, it may as well be!
    FORD THUNDERBOLT DODGE DEMON
    YR. 1964 2018
    HP 600 840
    1/4 9.23 9.6
    $$$ $4,300 $100,000
    The “old” T-Bolt has nothing to be ashamed of! Put wrinkle walls on the Dodge and it might meet it’s drive train “fail” limit!


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