1969 Ford Talladega, an Introduction

1969 Ford Talladega; How and Why was it Built?

Cover of Talladega dealer brochure.

Unlike today, in 1969 NASCAR raced Stock Cars; race cars built from cars straight off the show room floor! The Daytona 500 in 1969 was the beginning of the AERO WARS on the new NASCAR Super Speedways.  This automotive war resulted in the Ford Talladega, Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, Dodge Daytona, and Plymouth Super Bird.

In 1968 Ford showed up at the NASCAR races with a new Fairlane/Torino body style. It was an all new aerodynamic fastback body and it put the MOPAR and Bowtie fans to shame. Fighting back in 1969, the Dodge Boys modified a stock 1969 Dodge Charger to be a little more aerodynamic. The result was the limited production 1969 Dodge Charger 500. With a flush mounted grill and reworked rear window it had much less aero drag. The Dodge Boys were so excited with their new creation they couldn’t keep it a secret or stop talking about it. Meanwhile, after David Pearson in his #17 Ford Torino won the NASCAR Championship, Ford quietly went back to the drawing boards with help from the Holman and Moody race shop. These guys were wizards and came up with some new aerodynamic tricks for the already slippery Ford and Mercury fastbacks.

Katrina and Richard Fleener in Winner’s Circle at Bristol Motor Speedway after completing out “Hot Laps” in their Talladega!

Each Talladega had 15.5 inches of new sheet metal added to the front fender of the car. Contrary to common beliefs the Talladega was built on the regular assembly line along side the more traditional Torino. Prior to assembly, the original Torino front fenders were modified by cutting the front portion off just in front of the wheel well and grafting on an entirely new, sloped nose front section. Another critical change missed by most observers is the modified rocker panels. They were “re-rolled” to provide a shallower rocker panel. Why was this done? Well, to determine how close a race car could sit to the race track NASCAR inspectors measured the distance from the bottom of the rocker panels to the pavement. Due to the re-rolled rocker panels the Talladega (and Spoiler II) could sit 1″ closer to the track making it more aero dynamic and, giving it a lower center of gravity and thus better cornering ability. Holman and Moody took the Torino rear bumper and placed it up front but not before sectioning it in three locations. This allowed the new bumper to tuck in close to the fenders catching less passing air and acting as a front spoiler.

 

In January and February of 1969, using its Atlanta plant, Ford produced only 754 Talladegas. (6 Prototypes of various colors; 5 Pilot cars, all white; and 736 Production cars in three colors: Royal Maroon, Wimbledon White and Presidential Blue plus one special for Ford President Bunkie Knudson in yellow.) The Production interiors were all black vinyl, with cloth bench seats, no tach or clock, and just an AM radio. Talladegas were given special “T” plates on the doors just above the handles, a “T” in a circle on the rear fake gas cap, and “Talladega” nameplates inside on the door panels. All regular Production Talladegas were identical except for the paint. All Production Talladegas received the 428 cubic inch Cobra Jet engine rated at 335hp, a C6 automatic transmission, staggered rear shocks, and non-posi 3.25:1 rear end. Talladegas are the only automatic equipped Torinos to receive the Drag Pack staggered shocks.

Ford won the NASCAR Manufactures Cup in 1969; David Pearson won the Driver’s Season Championship. Richard Petty finished second and won his 100th race behind the wheel of his blue Talladega. It was the only year that Petty raced a Ford.

There is more to know about the Talladega history but this information provides you with a quick overview of the rare and historically significant Ford Talladega.

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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.

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  1. Alan Miller says:

    Thank you for the article. Now Talledega owners can buy new quarters , wheel housing , floors and more .

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