Friday, April 29, 2016

4/29 - Happy Thunder Jet day!

Wrapping up our 2016 rendition of Big Block week is Thunder Jet day.  As time goes by, things get replaced with newer, fancier, shinier things.  Such was life for the 428 Cobra Jet.  In '68, Ford introduced the new 429 Thunder Jet in the '68 Thunderbird.  This motor was based on the new 385 family of Ford V8s (along with the 460).  This motor was newer and a bit more conducive to the high revving nature of racing and was meant to replace the 428 on the track until Ford decided to discontinue its factory racing efforts for the '70 season.  Instead, the motor was found as a motor option for things like Galaxies, Torinos, Mustangs, and Rancheros that the owners decided needed more oomph on the street.

Also, not as cool looking with only one carb
The only shimmers of racing hope for the 429 were found in the Mustang Boss 429 and the race version of the Torino Talladega, but the homologation Talladegas still got the 428 Cobra Jet.  The Torino Talladega was another factory race car built with extra aerodynamic components like the Daytona and Superbird.  The Talladega came first and dominated the '69 Nascar leaderboards.  The Mopars came in '70, and by the end of the season, all the aero models were banned.  Soon after, Nascar made a rule that the engines could be no larger than 305 cubic inches of displacement, so the big blocks were all but done.  Add the fuel crisis of '73, and it's a pretty bleak picture for the 400+ V8s.  By the late '70s, big blocks were only options on trucks or large, full-size sedans and wagon, but even they were strangled by emissions regulations.  The glory days of hot rods and factory race teams seemed to have passed away.  Only recently has it been rekindled by the new retro muscle cars and their mid-sized, high horsepower V8s.  It will be interesting to see how far they go with it and what will cause them to tame it back down.

Now for the pictures:

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