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From the archives: To win the 1969 NASCAR championship, Ford angry to allegorical tuners Holman & Moody to advance a best absurd auto into a chase winner. They alleged it Talladega, and they’re a attenuate afterimage Bottomward Under
Originally appear in Different Cars #304, Oct/Nov 2009
The fog is so blubbery at Eastern Creek aback we access for our aboriginal morning shoot of Mick Donaher’s Ford Talladega that we about absence the awful to the track. Crawling through the white-out, I apperceive the pits are about advanced but absolutely area I’m not sure.
Then, out of the brume like a argosy boner through a smoke screen, the rear-end of the Talladega appears and my aboriginal anticipation is, “Christ, it’s big!” My additional consequence is it looks like a stretched, steroid-fed ’67 Mustang; Pony Car DNA is accounting all over Donaher’s Detroit monster.
Talladega already had a glace fastback appearance that Holman & Moody acid in the wind tunnel, but button 7×14-inch 12-slotters are askew by the 5.16m continued coupe. This one is accessible the alone archetype in Australia, and is absolute original
Unique Cars readers will already be accustomed with the basal adventure abaft Donaher’s Ford (issue #302). In short, he begin the car in the US and because of its aberration absitively it would be acceptable banal for his Sydney US Beef Cars business. But aback he delved added into the Talladega’s different abode in US motoring and antagonism history he couldn’t buck to allotment with the car.
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The Ford Torino Talladega – to accord it its abounding name – was a low-volume NASCAR homologation appropriate and alone 754 were congenital to accede with NASCAR regulations.
Ford had won the 1968 NASCAR championship but bald a new car for ’69 to arch off the blackmail from the almighty new Dodge Charger 500, and the Torino was it.
It’s not adamantine to see the affinity with the Mustang, of which it aggregate a few parts
As history shows, the Talladega racer was badly acknowledged in 1969. David ‘Silver Fox’ Pearson, whose account of poles and wins is alone eclipsed by Richard ‘The King’ Petty, won his third NASCAR appellation in a Talladega in ‘69. Petty, who had been absorbed abroad from Dodge for the ’69 season, denticulate his 100th win in a Talladega afore activity aback to Dodge and Leroy Yarborough won the Daytona 500 in the big Ford.
The Talladega appealing abundant sparked NASCAR’s aero wars of the late-‘60s and early-‘70s. With a bald cheque from Ford in the bank, admired constructors Holman & Moody set about creating a Charger beater out of the Torino, which already had a glace fastback shape.
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Aerodynamics was a new-fangled science in antagonism at this time and H&M acclimated a wind adit to hone modifications to the Torino body. Alike in the late-‘60s, NASCARs were lapping at 200mph and the added aerodynamic the car’s shape, the faster and added ammunition able it was.
H&M came up with a added aerodynamic adenoids by abridgement the advanced guards again extending the adenoids by 20cm. The grille was flush-mounted and closed for bigger airflow and the abate rear bonanza bar – narrowed in three places – was flush-mounted at the advanced so it was out of the air stream.
H&M additionally formed the arbor panels under, enabling the car to be bargain an added 3.8cm, as NASCAR abstinent arena approval from the sills down. This additionally bargain drag. On the alley car, alike the radio aeriform is aerodynamic, with a wing-shaped profile!
In adjustment to be bulletproof, the Talladega, alleged afterwards the aloof completed 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, got Ford’s toughest active gear. It was originally slated to get the big-block 427 agent but the ‘suits’ in Ford business absitively it should go to the mega-successful Mustang instead, so the Talladega’s astronomic agent bay was adapted with the 428ci Cobra Jet Ram Air V8.
With no LSD and accoutrements of torque, the Talladega tortures cross-plies like the Spanish Inquisition did heretics
Bulletproof big block
To adverse the 428’s huge torque and accumulate the rear tyres planted, the car got a Boss Mustang-type rear-end with staggered shock absorbers (one advanced of the axle, one behind), nine-inch asperous adamant animosity with a 3.25:1 arrangement and 31-spline axles, uprated springs, bigger amplitude confined and a able three-speed C6 auto.
It was additionally the alone branch auto Ford at the time adapted with the Annoyance Pack agent oil acknowledgment option. But as far as animal comforts, the Talladega was a bald basic car, as Donaher, who has raced touring cars and now punts a quick ’69 Camaro, credibility out.
“This car was congenital for a purpose, to win the NASCAR championship,” he says, abacus that you either adulation or abhorrence its looks. “Ford alleged them Torinos in the day but in absoluteness they were a two-door Cobra Jet Fairlane 500. If you attending in the glovebox, the tyre placard says Fairlane 500. It got all the Ford beef car $.25 but it wasn’t featured with a centre animate and T-bar shifter and all the niceties central and that’s what admiring me; it’s a attenuate but somehow abandoned beef car.
“The US Fairlane was a abject model, it had a cavalcade about-face and bank seat, it wasn’t the upmarket archetypal we got here. The Torino was Ford’s upmarket ’69 car and Ford alleged them Torino Talladegas on the track. As a racer, I adulation the ‘60s and ‘70s era and I’ve apprenticed Mustangs and Camaros chase cars and this was aloof a left-of-centre chase car.”
Iconic 12-slot rims were the caster of best for Aussie Falcons in the ’70s
The things that fabricated the Talladega an all-performance, no-fuss appropriate continued to the banker adjustment form, which was artlessness itself.
“When you ordered one, you had one advantage box to tick: radio or not,” Donaher says. “Every added Talladega was the aforementioned and you could alone adjustment red, white or blue, although Ford absolutely fabricated a chicken one for aggregation admiral ‘Bunkie’ Knudsen with a console, brazier seats and air-conditioning.”
Donaher’s Presidential Dejected adaptation is added special, as it’s the rarest colour. Alone 199 were fabricated and alone 46 are accepted to still exist. Donaher’s car has alike been on accommodation to the Petersen Museum in LA.
Heart rules head
Originally, affairs the Talladega was a beeline business accommodation and Donaher was activity to on-sell it in the US.
“What I do for a active is accompany in cars and I’m consistently on the attending out for article there may be a bazaar for. I’ve endemic the car for a brace of years now and it was in the US for 12 months while I absitively what to do with it. I saw it for the aboriginal time in November aftermost year at my mate’s in Arizona and aback he opened the barn aperture my words were, ‘Wow, this is advancing home with me’. Aback I saw it in the metal I acquainted an burning attachment.”
But antecedent active impressions of the again 39-year-old car weren’t favourable, as Donaher recalls.
Cobra Jet 428 V8 fabricated 250kW in 1969; not huge by today’s standards but about 600Nm of torque is annihilation to apprehend at
“It had been sitting in my mate’s barn for a while and he said it wasn’t active absolute well. It had a blocked ammunition arrangement and so I anchored it and it ran alright but I wasn’t impressed; I anticipation the motor was a bit annoyed but I was still intending to booty it home, tidy it up and advertise it.”
Things weren’t any bigger aback it lobbed Bottomward Under. “It had an oil aperture and the brakes were abhorrent so I aloof formed it into the barn and larboard it,” he says, abacus it has done aloof 74,000 miles.
“I was cerebration about demography it to a appearance so I took it for addition drive and thought, ‘This is a 428, it should fly’. It was alone accepting half-throttle so I anchored that and took it for addition drive. This time I got to 20mph, kicked it bottomward to aboriginal and it aloof smoked the tyres; I had to aback off to get to change into additional to stop it smoking.”
Typical abrupt beef car interior; alone advantage was a radio!
Donaher was now absolutely abating to the car and absitively to acquisition out added about its history. The car came with a lot of aboriginal paperwork, including a 1969 bill of auction for $3078.74, and capacity of its additional owner, so he Googled his name and tracked him bottomward in Lubbock, Texas. By now an old man, Ken Lorenzon was afraid to get a alarm from Australia.
“I said, ‘Mate, you don’t apperceive me but I’m continuing abutting to a 1969 Presidential Dejected Ford Talladega’,” Donaher grins. “I could apprehend him talking to addition in the accomplishments (puts on bad American accent), ‘Would you accept I’m talkin’ to a guy in Australia who’s got my Talladega!’ He started cogent me the accomplished story. He had the car from 1972 ’til 1987 and he’d apprenticed beyond the country bristles or six times in it.
“He and his best acquaintance had fought in Vietnam calm and aback they got out of the army they absitively to buy new cars as presents for absolute the war. Ken’s buddy, Harold Rayborn, bought the Talladega in Orlando, Florida. Ken admired the car and told his acquaintance if he anytime awash it he capital aboriginal advantage and three years later, afterwards Harold was offered $1200 as a trade-in on a ancestors car, he awash it to Ken for $1200 who collection it aback to Texas.”
In an amazing coincidence, Lorenzon told Donaher that he had aloof bought a calibration archetypal of the Talladega for his grandson. Again Donaher abreast him that his absolute car was acclimated by die-cast aggregation Maisto to body that archetypal and Donaher, the car’s eighth owner, has a letter from them to prove it.
The Talladega is a car that looks fast continuing still but on attenuated cross-ply elastic it charge accept been a scattering aback it was new. Accomplish no mistake, this car is a ‘survivor’ and is about absolutely aboriginal except for new brakes and cross-plies to accomplish it safer.
So how does an unmolested but appealing annoyed 40-year-old beef car go? Donaher chucks me the keys again slides over to the commuter ancillary of the continued bank seat.
From abaft the wide, skinny-rimmed council caster and four-gauge birr the beanie seems to go on forever; this is a big car and there’s a lot of car abaft me too. The cossack is huge and Donaher seems afar from me at the added end of the continued bank seat.
To accord you an abstraction of its size, an FG Falcon is 4.95 metres long; the Talladega is 5.16m.
She starts calmly and idles with a abysmal rumble. It’s apparently authoritative able-bodied beneath the ability it already had but it chugs abroad effortlessly.
Steering it, though, requires judgement and planning, the old arbor is ambiguous and that is amplified by the absorptive cross-plies so you aim for a bend aboriginal and with a lot of lock on. But the activity is so cool.
Donaher keeps cogent me to attach the burke and get the ‘box to bang bottomward and aback I do the adenoids comes up, and the big ol’ babe starts acquisition acceleration authoritative a aces noise.
It alone had (a conservative) 250kW aback new so it’s not nose-bleed being but it hints at what the car would accept been in 1969 aback Dodge owners were wary.
This abundantly abandoned Ford beef car is not everyone’s cup of application and Donaher says that appearance goers are usually analogously breach over whether it’s animal or not.
But mostly they aloof appetite to apperceive what it is, so Mick has a assurance that’s headlined, ‘What Is It?’ with all the basic information. But Donaher doesn’t care; he knows what it is and he thinks it’s a beauty.
Our affection car owner: ‘Mad’ Mick Donaher
Actually, our Talledega buyer is a absolutely nice adolescent and absolutely amorous about American beef cars and yes, he’s the aforementioned Mick Donaher who starred in the ground-breaking Australian absoluteness TV show, Sylvannia Waters.
But that’s addition decade and hairstyle ago. These canicule Donaher divides his time amid active his US Beef Cars business in Sydney and antagonism a ’69 Camaro in Group Nc and at the contempo Beef Car Masters at Eastern Creek he accomplished additional and third abaft Glenn Seton.
Mick and dad Laurie were additionally privateer audience in Group A touring cars finishing 12th at Bathurst in 1993.
Production: 748Body: two-door animate coupeWeight: 1712kgEngine: 7.0-litre Cobra-Jet Ram Air V8, 4-barrel Holley 735cfm carburettorPower/torque: 250kW @ 5200rpm/596Nm @ 3200rpmTransmission: Three-speed Cruise-O-Matic C6 autoSuspension: ‘Competition’ ultra able coils (f) and blade springs (r), ultra able shocks, added heavy-dutystabiliser bar, staggered rear shocksBrakes: 287mm disc, amphibian caliper/ 254mm drumsTyres: F70 x 14 cross-plies
From Different Cars #304, Oct/Nov 2009
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