"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!
FROM 'RUN WHAT YA BRUNG' TO FACTORY-BACKED ROYALTY
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.
IN RACING WE TRUST
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.
MODEST CREATION, BIG ASPIRATIONS
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.
A REAL 'STOCK CAR' RACER
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 https://www.RKMotors.com!
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
Featured in both Muscle Car Review and Old Cars Weekly / Sale includes both feature articles
Correct ""Bonner"" branded 427 cubic inch Ford FE V8 / Date-correct dual-quad induction
Correct Borg Warner Aluminum Cased 4-speed manual transmission
Correct Ford 9-inch rear axle
Vintage Burgundy paint
Correct Beige vinyl interior with original seats
Lightweight doors, front fenders, hood, and original front bumper
1 of few Thunderbolts with fiberglass doors
Correct 15-inch wheels
NOS Firestone rear tires with lightning bolts in tread pattern
Documentation from Ford Motor Company verifying the car was built for Phil Bonner
Historical summary penned by Larry Davis, Founder of the Thunderbolt Owners Association
Vintage photos and restoration photos
All RK Motors vehicles receive a comprehensive, multi-point inspection
We can arrange shipment of your purchase anywhere in the world
|Exterior Color:||Vintage Burgundy|
|Transmission:||4 Speed Manual|
RK Motors was built on a vision to share our passion for cars, make buying or selling your dream car as simple and satisfying as possible, and make the hobby more enjoyable and accessible. At the core of our operation is a dedicated group of serious car enthusiasts who strive to achieve our corporate vision. No matter where you look, you'll see this ideal reflected throughout RK Motors operations.
The “RK” in RK Motors proudly represents our founder Rob Kauffman, a lifelong enthusiast. Rob’s deep passion for cars, extensive automotive knowledge, and business insight has transformed the company into one of the most innovative collector car dealers in the United States.
RK Motors is a global destination for serious collectors and hobbyists. Our state-of-the-art 60,000 square foot East Coast showroom was named the nation’s #1 “must see” destination for gearheads and enthusiasts by HotRod Magazine. Our website draws nearly 300,000 visitors per month, making it the most viewed car dealer website on the planet. RK Motors continually offers something new and unique to consider.
In addition to being a classic car dealership, our world-class RKM Performance Center has restored some of the most legendary cars on the planet. Many of these cars have collected trophies at some of the largest shows in the country. Our ASE certified mechanics and Master Technicians are also fellow enthusiasts who ensuring your vehicle is treated with the utmost respect. From our unprecedented Seal of Approval Exit Service to complete restorations, our performance center has the passion, knowledge, and experience to fulfill your automotive needs.
The RK Motors name has appeared on all forms of media and even a few race cars. We proudly support various racing series and competitions, including NASCAR. Our Chairman, Rob Kauffman, drives a RK Motors Charlotte sponsored Ferrari F458 Italia in endurance races like the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring. He also competes in Historic Trans Am racing and various road rallies, domestic and abroad.
If your passion for cars burns as brightly as ours, call our sales team today to schedule an appointment to visit our showroom. We hope to see you on our list of satisfied customers soon. Until then, see you on the road or at the track.
With more than 4,500 high grade, classic cars sold since 2007, RK Motors has established a clear track record with thousands of customers world-wide. On an annual basis, more than 80% of our sales are from repeat customers.
Before any car is listed for sale, on our website, our highly skilled, in-house production team spends countless hours ensuring every image and video represents each vehicle as you would see it in our showroom. With the exception of one visually explain enhanced “lead shot”, our images are true to the actual state of the car- what you see is what you get.
Speaking of our showroom, if you are ever in the Charlotte, NC area, please make it a point to schedule a visit with us and find out why Hot Rod Magazine named our showroom its Top Automotive Destination in the US for 2013.
If you're a serious collector looking to freshen your collection, we'll gladly consider high-quality trades, even if it's a car you recently bought from us. No other dealer offers the same services and flexibility as RK Motors.
Being a full-service, licensed, used car dealer, we offer finance, insurance, transportation, restoration and customization for your collector car. We handle the business end of every sale with equal confidence. All titles are clean and transfers are handled in-office for the quickest turnaround possible.
No matter what corner of the globe you live on, we can ship a car to you. Our transportation and logistics team includes a full time shipping manager for quick, reliable and professional service. Like everything else we do, we’ll work hard for you to make the process as painless as possible.
Our reputation among collectors speaks for itself. Visit our customer reviews page or give our sales team a call. We'll be happy to connect you with some of our current customers.