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For Sale: 1964 Ford Fairlane in Charlotte, North Carolina

Vehicle Description

It's hard not to admire vintage race cars. Whether it's lust for world class warriors that have accomplished amazing feats, relishing the 'good old days' of NASCAR, SCCA or NHRA, or reminiscing about monsters they've actually built, almost everyone loves old school speed! More than just a casual nod to the past, these brazen and brooding beasts are visceral manifestations of the sights, sounds and ingenuity that made many of us the car enthusiasts we are. This authentic Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, raced by Phil Bonner in the 1964 NHRA Super Stock class, is a meticulously restored salute to all things great about American motorsports. And if you're in the market for a pedigreed collectible that backs an incredible story with first class looks and a nasty disposition, you're reading about your next classic!


A series of 100 units produced for the 1964 model year, The Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt was an experimental, drag race-only automobile that combined lightweight Fairlane bodies with dual-quad Galaxie motors. Although the Galaxie had proven itself in NASCAR, it was simply too heavy to be drag raced with any significant success. After Ford had stripped the car into a semi-victorious 'lightweight', they decided to apply the same formula to the Fairlane. The result was a storied track champion that, when compared to the Galaxie, was 3 inches shorter, weighed 700 pounds less and unofficially produced over 500 horsepower.

Phil 'Daddy Warbucks' Bonner was a well-known match racer who, like so many drivers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, built a hardcore base of fans by running southern drag strips almost every night of the week. Always behind the wheel of a Ford, Bonner often ran his full-bodied, daily-driven hot rod to victories almost anywhere he wanted to line up. Eventually, his success led to a place on the short list of drivers that were invited to purchase Thunderbolts. Victories in the Thunderbolts allowed him to add cars like an all-wheel-drive Falcon, a Tasca single overhead cam Mustang, various experimental Super Stocks and a flip-top Funny Car. And in the span of roughly ten years, Phil Bonner, known for his tireless dedication, humble demeanor and pioneering fearlessness, had become a legend to both the Ford camp and the national drag racing community.

Originally used as a promotional car by the likes of Fred Lorenzen and Curtis Turner, to show that NASCAR drivers were competitive in NHRA as well, this authentic Thunderbolt left Dearborn in a showroom-friendly coat of Wimbledon White single-stage. However, Phil Bonner's first Thunderbolt, a car that had been rolled and totaled at Paradise Dragstrip in Calhoun, Georgia, was known and recognized for its signature Vintage Burgundy aesthetic. So, when Bonner decided to put this Ford on the track, it was repainted accordingly. After the 1964 NHRA season, the car ended up in the hands of Bonner crewmen and cylinder head specialist Gene Wilson. According to vintage photographs, the Gene Wilson era brought new paint, a new christening as "THE PRODIGAL" and, of course, more racing. Eventually, this legendary Fairlane would stable up in a barn in Alpharetta, Georgia, under the care of engine guru Hal Reed. Reed stored the car in a semi-built state for well over 20 years, declining offers from especially astute pursuers that included Phil Bonner himself. However, after a lot of time and a lot of consideration, Mr. Reed ultimately made a deal with Clarksville, Georgia's Donald Allen. And, as a well-known restorer of several unique and limited production Ford performance vehicles, Mr. Allen did what he does best: subjected this legend to an era-correct, nut-and-bolt restoration that included a roster of original and NOS components.


When Dearborn brass decided to shove large-displacement engines into compact Fairlanes, they probably had a hard time keeping a straight face. And, when you feel the lope of this raucous Thunderbolt, you'll understand exactly why. Unpin the car's fiberglass hood and you'll find a "BONNER" branded 427 that's wicked in all the right ways! At full throttle, oxygen flows through large, forward-mounted ducts into a finned, Thunderbird-style air box and date-correct Holley carburetors. Below those carbs, a requisite FoMoCo distributor strings loomed plug wires around a date-correct High-Riser Intake. At the sides of that plane, polished valve covers center tasteful "427" decals on date-correct heads. Those heads heat intricately piped headers that, in addition to being balanced by a crossover, hint at the cool 'bundle of snakes' pipes found on Ford's legendary GT40. And everything stays cool thanks to a rebuilt radiator. Visually, the clean V8 is a mass of bright castings that are properly seated in a Satin Black engine bay. And items like new fuel lines, pliable coolant hoses and fresh tower clamps round out a trophy worthy display.


Take a peek under this Ford and you'll find an exceptionally clean chassis that's punctuated by Satin Black floors and, in traditional Thunderbolt fashion, a substantially re-engineered suspension that was finished by Dearborn Steel Tubing. At the center of those bones, a correct Borg Warner 4-speed proves an effective companion for slinging gears and scorching stoplights. That aluminum transmission channels power to a familiar, 9-inch axle. A rebuilt steering rack joins manual drum brakes to keep the driving experience nice and authentic. There's a gloriously ironic single-pipe exhaust system that looks like it's never even been used - trust us, you'll want to keep the plates off the headers just as much as we did! And torque meets the pavement through correct steel wheels, which spin fresh 6.40-15 Firestones in front of NOS 9.50-15 Firestones that feature appropriate lightning bolt tread patterns.


Behind this Fairlane's substantially lightened doors, a standard Beige interior is a sea of 1960s authenticity. Lightweight bucket seats retain their original fabric. Correct rubber flooring frames a correct chrome shifter opposite a tight headliner that's fitted with one standard sun visor. The dash is simple, hanging factory telemetry and correct deletes between a big Rotunda tachometer and a small Stewart Warner oil gauge. In front of the driver, an ornate factory steering wheel provides a touch of class. At the sides of the passengers, correct, armrest-free door panels feature bright stainless trim and standard chrome handles. And behind the cockpit, a vast trunk correctly locates the car's battery.

How many chances do enthusiasts get to own a pedigreed, impeccably restored race car? How many of those enthusiasts are lucky enough to own a storied Ford Thunderbolt? Only 100 of these legendary strip slayers rolled down Ford's hallowed Dearborn production lines, and fewer still survived the 'quarter-mile life' on their way to becoming coveted collectibles. Looking for the ultimate homage to the golden age of American motorsports? Follow the thunder to!


Authentic, documented, nut-and-bolt-restored Thunderbolt with many rare original and NOS components

First time being offered for sale to the public

Car number 53 of only 100 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolts produced

Raced by well-known racer Phil Bonner in 1964 NHRA Super Stock competition

Restored by marque expert Donald Allen, well-known restorer of unique and limited production Ford vehicles

Vehicle Details

  • 1964 Ford Fairlane
  • Listing ID:CC-1295276
  • Price:$299,900
  • Location:Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Year:1964
  • Make:Ford
  • Model:Fairlane
  • Exterior Color:Vintage Burgundy
  • Interior Color:Palomino
  • Transmission:Manual
  • Odometer:4
  • Stock Number:136614
  • VIN:4F41K229249
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