Using a plain Fairlane two-door sedan body and removing all but the essentials, the Thunderbolt was all about light weight and big power. First, Ford stripped the interior and removed the trim. Then they realized that van-sourced bucket seats were lighter than the standard bench seats, so they gave the Thunderbolt two small seats in the front to save a couple of pounds.
Also, they replaced the glass with Plexiglas, giving the Thunderbolt lightweight fenders and bumpers, as well as a hood with the characteristic “teardrop” air scoop. Under the hood was the new 427 V8 FE with a factory output of 425 HP. However, most experts think that the real output was closer to 600 HP since they equipped the engine with all kinds of go-fast goodies.
They included the special intake manifold, high-performance heads and special pistons. Ford made exactly 100 Thunderbolts in 1964, selling them to professional racers for just $1 each. Out of 100 cars, 49 were four-speed manuals and 51 were three-speed automatics. Needless to say, the Thunderbolt was so successful, it won the 1964 NHRA title despite the fierce competition.