The Thunderbolt Named Humpin' Henry

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I got this note in the mail a couple of weeks ago. Suffice it to say I was a little excited! I'll put the note here in it's entirety, and hopefully photos will follow.

Craig, I am most pleased to have found your site today using the dogpile search engine. I have searched for Thunderbolt things on the internet for years and only today located your site using dogpile.

I am a former Thunderbolt owner and racer who would just love to contribute the tale of my car, Humpin' Henry, to your fine site. In the 1960's and early 1970's, I was employed as the dealer representative of the Sid Stout Ford Drag Club in Amarillo, Texas. Sid Stout Ford sold two Thunderbolts in 1964 and like many Ford Dealers at the times sold or provided their allotted Thunderbolts to Texas drag racers. The Ford dealer in San Antonio, Texas also sold two TBolts and I think there was a Thunderbolt sold in Dallas or Irving. My car, #57 (I think), was originally purchased by Billy Parker from Sid Stout Ford who raced the car for a few years and actually drove it on the street for a time. I believe Sid Stout's other Tbolt went to Ken McClellan, a Texas drag racer who at the time dominated NHRA Super Stock Racing at Amarillo Dragway for many years. Ken most successful venture in NHRA drag racing came with his SS/G 1969 428 super CJ Mustang named, the "Cobrastang." He was a Ford sponsored racer and held the SS/G NHRA national record during the late '60's and early '70's. He also raced a 427 Falcon.

I notice you state that only the first ' bolts were burgandy. I believe my car, Humping' Henry, to be #57 but must point out that my car was burgundy, had a fiberglass front bumper, automatic transmission and an aluminum bumper that fit on top of the fiberglass model. It is my understanding that Henry came only with the fiberglass bumper and Ford provided the aluminum bumper so that the cars would be legal for NHRA Super Stock class whose rules required the use of a "metal" front bumper. Also, Henry had all Plexiglas windows except for the windshield. I should also say that in addition to these features, Henry came with a 125 pound Ford diesel truck battery mounted over the left rear tire in the trunk. Also, every Thunderbolt I ever saw, and that's not very many because there weren't very many had a little metal tag mounted inside the glove box door saying in so many words "this vehicle is light weight and does not meet Ford quality standards", in short a product disclaimer from Ford. Thunderbolts also came with four little brackets screwed into the rear window frame to hold the fiberglass rear window in place.

Billy Parker raced his Thunderbolt occasionally at Amarillo Dragway but my most memorable moment came one night about 1967 at the Hidiho Drive on the Polk Street drag where the racers congregated on warm summer nights in Amarillo. My buddy and I were sitting in his GTO when all of a sudden Billy Parker pulled his rumbling Tbolt into the parking lot of the drive in. Parker then backed up the Thunderbolt a little to straighten his path and hit the gas doing a two foot wheel stand to the amazement of the crowd. He got lots of cheers my buddy and I decided to see if we couldn't outrun that funny lookin' Fairlane with his 4 speed, 389 tripower GTO. Surfice it to say, the GTO never had a chance that night, all we ever saw of the Thunderbolt was tail lights as it blew past the GTO several times. I decided then and there I wanted one of those Fairlanes but it was several years before Humpin Henry surfaced again.

A few years later, while working at Sid Stout Ford, I heard that Parker's Thunderbolt was for sale. For whatever reason, Parker had pulled the 427 hi riser engine out of the car and put it in his drag boat after rebuilding it and increasing the size to over 500 cubic inches. I heard he had blown the engine in a drag race. Parker ran a wrecking yard on Lakeside Drive in Amarillo for years and he exhibited the high rise engine with fuel injection in a front window of his business. He sold the car to a fellow in Amarillo who I am sorry to say, I cannot remember his name. Shortly after buying the car, the fellow was drafted and sent to Vietnam. I bought the Tbolt from the father of this man. I had a Thunderbolt all right, paid $500 for it including a trailer to haul it on but no engine or transmission. The car was absolutely pristine when I got it. It had a little over 1,100 miles on the speedometer. For years I tried to buy the engine from Parker but he never would sell it. I understand he is dead now and the engine gone.

In 1972, I left Amarillo and took the car with me to my new home in Odessa, Texas. Before I say this and all you Ford racers get ready to have my scalp, in 1972 finding 427 high-rise parts in Texas was almost impossible. I priced a complete 427 from Holmon Moody and even in those days was over $8,000. So I bought a pro built 292 Chevy engine put it in Henry and went drag racing. The engine had two Holley four barrels, Mondello heads, a roller Lunati cam and produced 510 horse on the dyno. It had clear see through valve covers so you could see all the fancy roller rockers run. With the two four barrels the car ran consistent 11.50's at 129 mph in NHRA F/Modified production. The car weighed 3,312 with the 292. For a time we held the AHRA single four barrel class national record for Hot Rod class at 11.98. During these years we raced at Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio, and Lubbock, Texas.

I am sorry to say I sold Henry in the late 1970's but the car continued to been seen on the drag race circuit for many years powered by small and big block Chevy engines. I have unfortunately lost contact with the car. The last I heard it was somewhere in New Mexico. But I have also heard, that it is still in Texas.

As soon as I get my web page going, I will post some of my photos of Humpin' Henry so you can used them.

Glenn Justice

Just some things I'd like to add:

My Fairlane club has identified this car through a past owner. It is presently being restored and has several distinguishing parts still on it. I believe the car to be #49, an automatic transmission car going to Beaty Ford in Midland, TX. Some cars were sold from one dealer to another and this could be why my records show another dealer getting it.

Hopefully lots more will follow!

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