In a production run of any limited edition or special interest car the first and last cars produced hold special interest to most collectors. How many times do you see a car advertised for sale as an “early production” model? It may have been built several weeks after the first car but it is valued (at least to the owner) as being special.
The Ford Talladega production was on the regular assembly line with other Ford Torinos. The Talladegas therefore do not start with 001 but every Talladega VIN is known and recorded in the Talladega Registry. The following information was provided by James Myers owner of the last Talladega ever built.
James purchased the car in 1992 from the car’s third owner. Ironically, the second and third owners of the car never had the pleasure of actually driving the Big T. The car was one of only two sold in New Mexico.
The first owner drove the car 51,883 miles until it apparently developed a problem with the motor. That owner must have suspected the problem was in the carburetor since it had been removed and left off the car for sometime. During it non-running time, a piston became stuck and the engine would not turn over.
The second owner was about to graduate from high school and wanted the car as a graduation gift. The fact that it didn’t even run wasn’t a problem for a young lad in search of a fast car. The car was then moved to its new residence in Hobbs, New Mexico and eventually found its way to a barn. The family later moved to another town and the car was also moved but this time it was unfortunately relegated to a spot in the back yard where it could not be seen except by the curious eyes of a telephone line man.
When the owner was approached about selling the car, the response was luckily yes. The Talladega was purchased approximately six months later and moved to Houston where it sat in a garage for several more years. This is where James stepped in to save the car.
He then began the restoration with the engine. It was disassembled and the only problem found was a bent push rod. Other than this minor issue, the engine was in amazingly good shape other than two Le Mans rods and six regular CJ rods. Just a thought, what do you think would be the story today if the young high school graduate would have simply had a mechanic look at the engine? How would his life been different and what might have happened to this jewel of a car!
The reason for two Le Mans rods and six CJ rods remains a mystery. Anyone have any ideas? The engine was rebuilt but this time, CJ rods were installed on all eight pistons. The result was a severe vibration. This was eliminated when the original torque converter was replaced. The original torque converter had been balanced for the Le Mans rods!
The car is now in West Texas just 60 miles from where it was originally sold and driven.
The car currently has 53,281 miles and has been driven to several local car shows and was a participant at the 25 year reunion at the Talladega speedway in 1994. Other than the engine and transmission rebuild, brakes, paint and some minor interior work, the Talladega is much the same as when it was originally built in 1969. The car even has the originally smog pump and system.
I asked James about some of the rumored differences between early and late production Talladegas. He stated the most unusual items on the car are the decals for the “T” emblem on the outside of the door. It is rumored that the factory ran out of the molded “T” emblems so they substituted the decal on the last few cars. However, it has not been confirmed Talladegas were built with the decals. This car still had the decal on the passenger door so he was able to trace over it and have a reproduction made. Another difference in the last few cars was the aluminum valve covers, rather than the chrome ones found on most Talladega’s.
A three page list of parts used for the Talladega production was found under the back seat of the car. Apparently, with this being the last Talladega to be produced, the factory felt the parts list had served its intended purpose and would no longer be needed.