Jim Smart
August 1, 2005

There's just something about a '64 Fairlane sedan. Its masculine persona sports the visual nuances of an angry bulldog with an attitude you wouldn't be inclined to engage. This is the silhouette that shook NHRA Super Stock drag racing competition from sea to shining sea forty years ago.

The heavier 427 Galaxies weren't much of a challenge for Chevy and Chrysler} Super Stock boys in the early '60s. Plymouth and Dodge, especially, went after Fords with those 426 wedges and Hemis with great success on the 1320. Ford had adequate power with its 406s and 427s to compete with Chrysler. Where Ford suffered losses was in weight-those big, gorgeous Galaxie fastbacks and sedans sporting full frames.

So Ford looked at ways to shave weight from its 427-powered Galaxies using fiberglass body components, coining the term "lightweight." Some folks calls these big guys "glass" Galaxies. Despite the Galaxie weight-loss program, Ford still couldn't close the gap against unibody Dodges and Plymouths.

In 1964, Ford turned its attention to the lightweight unibody Fairlane sedan for NHRA Super Stock drag racing. A handful of Fairlane 500 two-door sedans were scheduled for production and shipment over to Dearborn Steel Tubing (DST) for conversion work. The '64 Thunderbolt Fairlane really wasn't Ford's brainchild, but Bob Tasca's of Tasca Ford fame in Rhode Island. Tasca was running a 406-powered '62 Fairlane sedan that opened eyes and turned heads in Dearborn. It was a solution to the excessive weight of big Galaxies. Ford had the corporate horsepower to turn the Fairlane rocketship dream into mass production reality.

Ford began Thunderbolt research and development with a '63 Fairlane test mule, which was destroyed during testing. Then, production began at the Dearborn assembly plant and DST, with 54 units scheduled for production. All were bare bones Fairlane 500 sedans void of sound deadening, optioned with Plexiglas side windows, heater and radio delete, and 289 High Performance engines (also deleted). When these sedans arrived at Dearborn Steel Tubing, they were modified and fitted with 427 FE High-Riser big-blocks, four-speeds or automatics, and 9-inch rearends. Originally, Ford planned 54 units, but excessive demand called for 111 units.

It goes without saying that not everyone had the good fortune of owning a new Thunderbolt Fairlane drag car. Still fewer enjoy this distinction today. If you can't own a real Thunderbolt Fairlane, sometimes you have to build yourself one from a bread-and-butter sedan.

Steve McBlanc found this '64 Fairlane sedan in a salvage yard in 1985, and snapped it up for $250. Steve had always loved the factory rabid dog Thunderbolts and their Jekyl and Hyde personality. You know, sedate looking on the outside with a mean persona inside. There's nothing sedate about Steve's Fairlane sedan. It was born to be trouble with its tunnel-ram hoodscoop, Weld wheels, Mickey Thompson drag tires, chassis and roll cage built by Carpenter Chassis, and 625hp NASCAR-spec 427 Tunnel Port big-block. When Steve cracks the throttle, everyone notices.

Because Steve likes the aim-and-shoot approach to performance, he didn't mess around with anything that might embarrass him. This is a '66 427 Side Oiler, bored .030-inch over with the NASCAR steel wide-journal crank, a Lunati solid-lifter, a high-lift cam (.612/.619-inch, 304/314 degrees), roller rockers, 12.8:1 forged pistons, NASCAR Tunnel Port heads and intake, 660-cfm Holleys, 211/44-inch tube headers, and a 4-inch exhaust through Flowmaster mufflers.

When Steve fires this 427, it's like shotgun fire echoing across the valley. It cracks. It rocks. It gets your attention quickly. Steve channels the power through a C6 transmission with 3,500-rpm stall converter and Police Interceptor components. A 9-inch Ford sporting 5.38:1 gears gets Steve off the line in short order. That's DuPont's Centari Pitch Black with a Crites tunnel-ram hood.

Most of us would like to have a genuine T-bolt sitting in the garage. When that isn't possible, it's nice to know there are options for the rest of us with slingshot Fairlane dreams.