Ford's performance car at the launch of the "classic" muscle car era was the Ford Galaxie 500 XL with the big 427 cu. in. (which actually measured 425 cu. in.), available only with a four-speed. The single four-barrel Holley carb version put out 410 bhp; the dual carb cranked out 425 bhp at 6,000 rpm. The Galaxie was a full size, heavy car though, which was typical of what was on the market at that time. The factory did produce a limited number of "Thunderbolts," which was an intermediate bodied 2-door Fairlaine, built and altered to fit the 427 ci with a high-rise manifold, dual Holley 200 CFM four-barrels, and fiberglass hood. The 100 cars they built were not really streetable, so most went to racers, though they could have been ordered through the dealership. These cars were reported to run high 11 second quarter miles at 120 mph.
The big news from Ford this year was introduction of the Mustang in April, from whence the "pony car" nomenclature for muscle cars was named. The Ford Mustang was designed and marketed to be a low cost sports car, and did not have a serious performance engine in initial introduction. The top engine offered was the 289 cu. in. with a four barrel carb putting out only 210 bhp. In June, however, a 289 cu. in. 271 bhp "Hi-Po" (High Performance) engine was made available. This came with the "Special Handling Package" of suspension upgrades along with 14-inch red line tires and nine-inch rear. Only 7,273 Mustangs were built with these options. Because the Mustang was introduced in early April of '64, many call the early cars "64 1/2s" while some consider them '65 models. For our classification anything sold before August we are calling a '64.
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