This really is a Ford 427 Hemi. But there's a lot more to the story than that. In 1963, Rhode Island Ford dealer Bob Tasca stuffed a Ford 427cid big block V8 into a mid-size Fairlane 500 hardtop. Ford Motor Company thought this was such a good idea they decided to build enough to be legal for NHRA Super Stock. Ford called the new model the Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt production was subcontracted to Dearborn Steel Tubing, which ultimately built between 100 and 127 of the lightweight drag racers, depending on who's counting. For just $3,780, anyone could order one from any Ford dealer. Thunderbolts came with a 427 High-Riser, Ram induction, 2 Holley 4 barrels, 12.0:1 compression ratio, headers, scatter shield, racing suspension, drag tires and heavy duty everything. Doors, hood, front fenders and bumpers were fiberglass, the windows were plexiglas and the interiors were stripped. Lightweight bucket seats were adapted from the Econoline van and the battery was relocated to the trunk. Thanks to performance in the 11.6 second range at 123mph and drivers like Dick Brannan, Gas Ronda and Butch Leal, Ford earned the NHRA Manufacturers Cup. Butch Leal won the Super Stock class at the 1964 NHRA Nationals driving Thuinderbolt #7 owned by Mickey Thompson. But wait, there's more. Mickey Thompson also owned Thunderbolt #10. Encouraged by Ford, Thompson's shop cast new aluminum cylinder heads for the 427 big block with hemispherical combustion chambers patterened after those on Chrysler's 392cid HEMI. They tried a couple of different intake manifolds and had to use Chrysler 392 pistons on custom connecting rods. At the Winternationals, the one-off Thunderbolt Hemi ran in A/FX. Driver Jess Tyree laid down an 11.40 at 129mph before the differential exploded. Over the years, the Thunderbolt worked its way down through various classes. It was eventually restored for Peter Kluitt's Legendary Motorcar collection before finding its way to Jim Mangione's collection. Today, it's virtually perfect and authentic, right down to the "Jess Tyree" painted on the door and "M/T Prepared" on the fender. There are said to be around 60 Thunderbolts remaining, but this is the only one with a one-of-one Ford Hemi V8 created from scratch by the great Mickey Thompson. Any Thunderbolt is obviously special, but this one is a lot more special than that.
**From the Jim Mangione Collection**