Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars

It’s day 2 of my “Week of 1:18” (I started on Tuesday). Today I’m showcasing one of the centerpieces of my collection, a 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt.

Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
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First, a little history about the Thunderbolt.

Ford introduced the Thunderbolt in 1964. Starting with a Fairlane, they heavily modified the car to incorporate Ford’s 427 cubic inch FE-series V8 (7.0 L for you metric people) from the larger Galaxie, as the Fairlane was only equipped with small-block motors from the factory. This meant redesigning the front suspension in order to accomodate the much larger big-block. The motor was equipped with dual-quads on a high-rise manifold and was fed via ram-air through the openings left from deleting the inboard headlights (this is where the Hellcat gets this idea). On the exhaust side, equal-length long-tube headers dump out directly, no mufflers. The combination was rated at 425 HP although modern dyno testing has placed it around 650 HP.

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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

In the quest to reduce/optimize weight Ford trunk-mounted the battery and replaced steel body panels with a fiberglass hood, doors, fenders, and front bumper. Additionally, acrylic glass (plexiglass) windows and other lightweight options, deleted rear window mechanisms, carpeting, radio, sealant, sun visors, armrests, jack, lug wrench, heater, soundproofing, and even the passenger-side windshield wiper. Front seats were either lightweight units from Ford’s police package vehicles or rudimentary bucket seats from the Econoline van; the carpeting was replaced by a black rubber mat. NHRA rules disallowed non-metal bumpers, so later cars were given special aluminum bumpers to skirt the rule.

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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

The Thunderbolt was not built on a regular Ford assembly line, but rather in conjunction with Dearborn Steel Tubing. It was there that partially built Fairlane bodies in top-of-the-line “500” exterior trim were combined with the 427 and either a heavy-duty Lincoln automatic transmission (51 of 100) or a Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission(49 of 100). The first eleven cars were painted in Ford’s “Vintage Burgundy” while the remaining eighty-nine cars were painted “Wimbledon White.” This model is of the car sold to TASCA Ford of Providence, Rhode Island for $1. As one of the first 11 cars it is painted burgundy, and the slightly rarer 4-speed.

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The Model:

This model was made by ACME diecast (formerly GMP, now GMP again) and is a really stellar casting. The casting has just about every feature you could possibly want in a model.

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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

The hood is held closed by tiny removable hood pins which, once removed, grant access to the well detailed engine bay.

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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

With the hood open the details really get interesting. The engine is nicely modeled, showing off the ram air hoses feeding into the air-cleaner. The teardrop hood’s wonderful vents feature a super fine mesh. The hood itself is held up on scissor hinges.

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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

The interior is quite nice as well. The gold bucket seats and trim panels look upscale in contrast with the carpet deleted floor. I love the T-handled Hurst shifter and the dash mounted tach.

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This car shares the center of my display for a reason, it’s a truly beautiful model that means business too.

My other Thunderbolts:

Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
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Illustration for article titled Week of 1:18 #2: Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt

Thanks for the read!

P.S. I know what Friday’s feature will be, but tomorrow’s isn’t decided. 60’s muscle cars or 60’s American road racers?

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