One of the most sought-after Ford muscle cars is the Fairlane 500 Sports Coupe. It has that great looking mid-Sixties-era hardtop styling, with body proportions that are just perfect. And with the ever-reliable 289-cu.in. V-8 under the hood, it's a combination that just can't be beat.
Unlike the ever-popular Mustang, restoring an old Fairlane is a little more difficult due to the limited availability of reproduction body and trim parts. But thanks to companies like AutoKrafters, Dennis Carpenter, Dearborn Classics, Mac's and Classic Ford USA Parts Supply, the list of these much-needed parts continues to grow.
Not only was the Ford Mustang debuted in 1964, but also the Ford Fairlane Thunderbot Two-Door Hardtop. The Mustang was an attractive pony car that offered visual appeal and performance, while the Fairlane Thunderbolt 'T-Bolt' was a drag racing machine that had the performance to take on any production vehicle created during that era. Ford worked with Andy Hotten of Dearborn Steel Tubing Company to create fifty-seven 427 cubic-inch V8 powered Fairlanes. It complied with all the newly established NHRA regulations including the minimum weight rules for stock-class drag cars, weighing 3203 pounds.
The interior was void of non-essential items and amenities. It had lightweight police package bucket seats, an 8,000 RPM Rotunda tachometer, and eventually it would come with fiberglass fenders and Plexiglas windows. Gone was the sun visors, all insulation and sound-deadening materials, jack and lug wrench, mirror, and armrests. The suspension and many other mechanical components were improved to handle the massive amount of power produced by the 427 engine. It was rated at 425 horsepower, though it was probably closer to 500. Two transmission options were offered, a heavy-duty Lincoln automatic with 4.58:1 gearing of a Borg-Warner T-10 transmission with a Hurst shifter and 4.44:1 gearing.
There were only 111 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt Two-Door hardtops created in 1964 with 89 fitted with the four-speed transmission. Ford produced 57 special Fairlane's that were comprised of a highly modified engine and a 3200 pound lightweight package. The purpose was for drag racing. The weight of the vehicle was reduced by incorporating fiberglass fenders, Plexiglas windows, light weight bucket seats, and other weight saving measures. The engine was a modified 427 big block that produced around 500 horsepower. The transmission and suspension was modified to accommodate these special drag racing vehicles. Commonly referred to as 'Thunderbolt' or 'T-bolts', the success on the race track increased the demand for these vehicles and 54 additional vehicles were produced, bringing the total to 111 examples.
The first eleven cars were painted maroon and the remaining were finished in white. The true potential of the car was revealed on the drag strip, as Gas Ronda earned the NHRA's 1964 World Championship with his T-Bolt, accomplishing the quarter mile in a mere 11.6 seconds at 124 mph.
In 2007 a 1964 Ford Fairlaine Thunderbolt Two-Door Hardtop was brought to the Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $225,000 - $275,000. It has a four-speed manual transmission, heavy-duty suspension, front disc and rear drum brakes, and a 427 cubic-inch V8 engine that produces 425 horsepower. It has been restored to original condition, finished in white with a white and gray interior, and documented in the Thunderbolt Registry. At auction the estimated value was not reached, but it did sell for a fair price of $165,000 including buyer's premium.
The name Fairlane came from Henry Ford's Fair Lane mansion location in Dearborn, Michigan. The Ford Fairlane was introduced in 1955 as Ford's full-size model and was available in six different body styles. The vehicle could be assembled as a 2 door club sedan, a 4 door town sedan, a Victoria 2 door hardtop, a Sunliner convertible, a Crown Victoria, or a Crown Victoria with a plastic top.
In 1964 there were eight body styles to select from; none were convertibles.
The rear of the vehicle was restyled. The tailfins were removed. The suspension was modified which improved ride-quality. The interior received minor enhancments. Full carpeting for the floors was available. Turn signals would shut off after a slight turn of the steering wheel.