Bill Holbrook; Father of the Talladega

It all began with a 1968 Talladega!

If you are visiting this site for the first time you likely are looking for information on the Ford Talladega or Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. If you are a regular on this site you are likely looking for the same thing! Both cars are legends among the folks who know about them. Unfortunately, very few car enthusiasts really understand these cars or worse yet, don’t even know they exist.

The entire program to develop these cars appears to have taken place over a few months rather than years. As quickly as they were created, they were also turned into dinosaurs by NASCAR rule changes. How did the first Talladega come about? Here is the story as told by Bill Holbrook, the Father of the Talladega. 

Kar Kraft

Kar Kraft Dearborn, MI: Birthplace of the Talladega

In 1969, I was called to the office of the director of our Performance Group, Mr. Jacque Passino. He tossed an artist’s rendering of a needle nosed Ford type vehicle on his desk. I remarked that it would make one fine race car and he said alright go make us one. Showing complete surprise, I inquired if he was serious and his reply was that I was wasting time and should get started immediately.

 

My first move was to call A J Foyt and ask him to loan me his magical sheet metal wizard, Luigi Lasovsky and I needed him in Dearborn post haste. Next I called Ralph Moody of Holman and Moody and advised him of my need of a fabricator. He indicated he would have Bob Sweetak on an airplane the next day. My next call was to Nick Hartmann of Kar Kraft to obtain the use of a secluded room at his facility in Dearborn.

 

Ford Data Test Tech. David Pearson with car and note spoiler on rear!

Ford Data Test Tech.
David Pearson with car and note spoiler on rear!

I selected a new yellow un-prepped 1968 Torino fastback from our department vehicle inventory and moved it to our secluded room at Kar Kraft. Bob and Luigi studied the artist’s rendering (both exclaiming “you’ve got to be kidding”), thus began the magic transformation from Torino to Talladega. We drew a line across the front end of the vehicle just forward of the hood line and cut off from that line forward and fabrication began in earnest. Approximately, two weeks later we finished creating a vehicle using the combined ideas of Luigi, Bob and I. We utilized the best aero dynamic ideas we could envision and still remain a stylish Ford vehicle.

 

The finished vehicle was immediately wind tunnel tested for aero drag, using a baseline from prior tests, and our fabrication proved a great improvement over the production Torino.

 

The 1969 Torino Talladega was only in NASCAR competition for 1969 and 70 but won 30 races. An interesting coincidence is that the first Talladega and the last of the approximately 754 vehicles built were the same yellow color.

Bill Holbrook, Father of Ford Talladega at the 40th Reunion in Talladega

Bill Holbrook, Father of Ford Talladega at the 40th Reunion in Talladega

 

Retired From Ford 1985

Bill Holbrook

Next up we will tell you about the meeting to set the design criteria for the Talladega.

Filed Under: FeaturedFord TalladegaHistorical Paperwork and MemosMercury Spoiler IIRace Cars and Drivers

Tags:

About the Author: Some of my first and strongest memories from my childhood relate to cars. I still remember when things happened based on what car I was driving at the time. I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I was a Corvette fanatic for years but then re-discovered vintage American Muscle. My wife, Katrina, and I decided we wanted to focus on unique and rare muscle cars. After a lot of research we fell in love with the Ford Blue Oval Aero Cars. These were only built in 1969 and and aerodynamics became an important part of winning races. The only purpose of these limited production cars was to win NASCAR races using the Boss 429 and 427 power plants complimented with a special, wind cheating, aerodynamic body. The Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are terrific and historic cars. This site is devoted to these car and their owners past and present. We provide an Online Registry for recording the long term history and ownership of every remaining Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II.

Comments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

*

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software