Dearborn Steel Tubing was operated by Andy Hotton, a gearhead entrepreneur with close ties to Ford’s racing programs. To create Thunderbolts from production Fairlane two-door sedans, his outfit performed a long list of modifications, guided by a prototype developed by Ford factory racer Dick Brannan. They replaced the front fenders, hood, and deck lid with lightweight factory pieces, partially gutted the interiors, modified the rear suspension with big, beefy traction bars, and rearranged the front suspension to allow the big 427 High Riser V8 to fit in the engine compartment, among other changes.
Campaigned by Mefford Ford, a Springfield, Ohio dealer with an active racing program that included USAC star Jack Bowsher, this particular Thunderbolt was not terribly successful, and at some point the troublesome automatic transmission was swapped out in favor of a four-speed. While Thunderbolts were capable of mid-11 second times at more than 120 mph, this one reportedly never met its potential, and that may well be what saved it. Instead of being campaigned to death like so many race cars, it was tucked away in storage for decades, then treated to a complete restoration, emerging in 2017 to collect several major show awards. Barrett-Jackson has not declared a price estimate for the upcoming no-reserve sale in January, but authentically restored Thunderbolts typically sell in the multiple six-figure range. Photos by Barrett-Jackson.