8. 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
In 1963, Pontiac, Chevrolet and all of GM were out of factory-supported racing, Mopar was dominating the strip with their Max Wedge engines. Back then, Ford didn’t have enough firepower to compete with Dodge or Plymouth. But that was about to change in 1964 when Ford introduced a factory-built drag racer they called the Fairlane Thunderbolt. Ford built it using a plain Fairlane two-door sedan body. However, they removed all but the essentials because the Thunderbolt was all about lightweight and big power.
They stripped the interior and removed the trim, but Ford realized the van-sourced bucket seats were lighter than the standard bench. So, the Thunderbolt had two small seats in the front to save on the weight. They replaced the heavy glass windshield with the lighter Plexiglas. The Thunderbolt had lightweight fenders, bumpers and a hood with the characteristic “teardrop” air scoop. Under the hood was the new 427 V8 FE with factory output of 425 HP.
However, most car experts think the real output was closer to 600 HP. Ford equipped the engine with all kinds of go-fast goodies like a special intake manifold, high-performance heads and special pistons. Ford made exactly 100 Thunderbolts in 1964, selling them to professional racers for one dollar each. Out of 100 cars, 49 were four-speed manuals and 51 were three-speed automatics. The Thunderbolt was so successful, it won the 1964 NHRA for Ford title despite the fierce competition.