We've all taken a project car off someone else's hands and scored a good deal in the process. Larry Marzen is no different. He was searching for a '66 to '67 Fairlane to park next to his '70 SportsRoof Mustang when he found an ad in the Des Moines Register for a '64 project car parked less than 50 miles from his home in Dougherty, Iowa.
He kicked on his boots and went for a walk-around. The Fairlane had a fair body without the rusty panels made famous by the Midwest and a pile of speed parts from Ford Motorsports. The crown jewel was the 460 crate engine with aluminum heads and an advertised 535 hp. The original owner was going for a big-block Thunderbolt look without the FE power.
Once the car was in his hands, Larry found out about Ford specialists Crites Performance and went to work. Crites sells everything needed to turn an ordinary sports coupe into a Thunderbolt replica using the correct FE or virtually any Ford powerplant. With an armful of parts, Larry and a few of his friends assembled his version of the T-bolt you see here.
Who: Larry Marzen
What: '64 Ford Fairlane
Where: Dougherty, Iowa
Engine: The engine is a 460 from Ford Racing with 10.5:1 compression, aluminum Cobra Jet heads, and that Ford Racing single-plane intake. Larry added the 850 Holley himself. It's not a bad engine to be sure, but now you can buy a 514 or even a 521. "If I would have bought the engine, it would have been the 514," Larry says.
Chassis: Crites Performance sells all the parts to get the 460 or any other engine in the bay. The company offers chassis parts as well, including crossmembers, headers, and the factory traction bars welded to the differential housing and connected to the rear crossmember. Mike Lauffer of Mike's Repair in Chapin, Iowa, did the welding and heavy lifting.
Suspension/brakes: The frontend is stock with the addition of big-block springs and discs from Stainless Steel brakes. The rears are stock drums.
Wheels/tires: This took a few tries. First, it was a set of Torq-Thrust IIs, then some Magnum 500s, before Larry saw a set of American Racing Rodmasters at the Back to the '50s car show in Minneapolis. The rear tires are McCrearys that are mostly for dirt roundy-round cars but work well for traction on the street because of the soft compound. The fronts are BFG Radial T/As.
Transmission: One of the parts included with the purchase was a TCI C6, but it had a flare between Second and Third gears. Larry replaced the ailing box with a C4 from Performance Automatic. He ordered it and a 3,500-stall speed converter from Summit Racing.
Exhaust: Crites makes the 2-inch primary headers for the swap that dump into a 3-inch system and a pair of Flowmasters.
Bodywork: Mather's Body Shop did the panel beating and sprayed the Volkswagen Tornado Red Larry also saw at the Back to the '50s show. Larry ordered a 4-inch hood from Crites and after it was painted, found that the Thunderbolt air bonnet didn't fit underneath it. He needed the 5-inch teardrop instead.
Interior: Larry passed this job off to a local upholstery shop with, of course, select trinkets added from Crites. Seeing the trend here?
Rearend: The car had a stock 8-inch, so that was tossed in favor of a narrowed 9-inch from a '70 Torino that was a leftover parts car. Larry narrowed it and added 3.50:1 gears and 31-spline Moser axles.