In the muscle car era Ford, Chevy, and Mopars ruled the muscle car world.
In the mid 60's to 1970 these companies tried everything they could to have an advantage or be considered the fastest muscle cars around.
One such car was the Yenko Super Camaro.
The Yenk Super Camaro was built under the personal supervision of Don Yenko. The originals were all first generation Camaros and were built as a way to get around the GM rule that engines for the Camaro's of the time could not be larger that 400 cu inches.
For the first year of 1967, Yenko ordered L-78 equipped SS Camaros and swapped in the Chevrolet Corvette's L-72 427 in³ (7.0 L) V8. The cars came with a 4.10 rear end and heavy-duty suspension. The exact number of cars produced is 104. Yenko also installed a fiberglass replacement hood similar to the "Stinger" hood featured on 1967 big-block Corvettes.
For 1968 and encouraged by the success of the 1967 model, Yenko continued to produce his Yenko Super Camaros for 1968. All of the 1968 Yenko Super Camaros started life with the L78 396 in³ 375 hp (280 kW) hp engine and close ratio 4-speed Muncie transmission. They were all built as Super Sport cars but only the Yenko-ordered cars came with the 9737 COPO appointments which included a 140 mph (230 km/h) Delco speedometer, a special Magic Mirror trim tag and a large 1 1/8th inch front anti-sway bar. Yenko swapped out the factory 396 in³ short-block for the L72 427 in³ 450 hp (336 kW) short-block reusing all of the rest of the 396 in³ engine's components including the heads, carburetor, intake manifold, etc. He swapped the stock hood for a twin-snorkel fiberglass one he had made along with other features including Pontiac's 14"x6" steel wheels with special Yenko caps, Yenko emblems gracing the front grill, front fenders and tail panel and 427 emblems were added to the tail panel and front fenders as well. Other additions included a Yenko Super Camaro serial-numbered tag in the driver's side door jamb and Stewart Warner pedestal-mounted tachometer and gauges were installed in the interior. Early cars got a rear spoiler made for Yenko and later cars all got the factory spoilers front and rear. The recognized production number for these cars is approx 64 cars converted, with well less than half of that number known to exist today.
For 1969 For 1969, the dealership worked with Chevrolet to have the L-72 engines installed on the factory assembly line using a Central Office Production Order, or COPO. The orders included power disc brakes, a 4.10 Positraction rear end with heat treated axle shafts, (to avoid breakage), a Z-28 front anti-sway bar, and a heavy-duty 4-core radiator. Buyers of the car had the option of either the M-21 four speed or the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission. A total of 201 cars were sold in 1969, 171 with four speed transmissions and 30 with automatic transmissions. Yenko rounded out the visual package with front and rear spoilers, a cowl-induction hood, special "Yenko 427" badges, twin stripes down the flanks and hood, (not with all cars however), and the sYc (Yenko Super Car) badge, (again, not with all cars). According to the Camaro Research Group, standard black interior (code 711) was the only interior ordered by Yenko.
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?