The 1964 Ford Thunderbolt and Nazy Crate: Insanity Unleashed
The 1960s occurred in a vastly different world than the one we live in today. As proof of this, we draw your attention to one of the most insanely powerful road machines ever built: the Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt. Like a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a B-29 bomber, it’s a symbol of a bygone era, one less secure but a helluva lot more exciting than the carefully sanitized, politically correct society we live in today. To be fair, the Thunderbolt wasn’t built on Ford’s assembly lines, but at the private shop of Andy Hotting with Dearborn Steel Tubing. It combined a relatively lightweight Fairlane frame with a 425 ci (7.0-liter) engine and dual four-barrel Holley carbs. To even fit the massive engine into a Fairlane required radical reconstruction of the front suspension. 100 Thunderbolts were built, 49 with a four-speed gearbox and 51 with an automatic. PHOTOS: See More of the 1964 Nazy Crate Thunderbolt
On top of that, the builders slashed weight in every way possible, like adding fiberglass doors, fenders, and front bumper. They also eliminated such unnecessary parts as the sun visor, the heater, one of the windshield wipers, arm rests, mirrors, window cranks, and the spare tire. The carpeting was replaced with a rubber mat and the front seats with lightweight versions from Ford police package vehicles. The high beams were pulled as well, replaced with special air intakes. The Thunderbolt was 700 lbs. lighter and three inches shorter than the Galaxie, the actual vehicle the 427 was designed for.
The Thunderbolt’s list of racing add-ons included tubular headers, custom rear suspension, and special tires and wheels from both Mickey Thompson and Goodyear. The Thunderbolt was rated at 425 hp, but in reality it topped out at over 600 horses. It ran 11.61 seconds in a test drive at the Lions Drag Strip in November of ’63 at 124.8 mph. Amazingly, despite these facts the Thunderbolt was (barely) street legal, though no one ever used it for the daily office commute. This was a creature built for one purpose: to go insanely fast on a race track. It did what it was meant to do, winning the NHRA Super Stock title for Ford in 1964.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1964 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt
There’s an interesting story about one Thunderbolt that ended up in the hands of New Jersey racer Nate Cohen in the mid-70s. It served Cohen on the track for four years until 1978. Body paint guru Tom Caldara kept the car, renaming it the "Nazy Crate." It again passed hands in 2005, this time to famed auto restorer Randy DeLisio, who further modified it. The result is a truly one-of-a-kind automobile that looks as insane as it drives.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1964 Ford Fairlane 500
Photo Credit: Mecum Auctions