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1957 Ford Thunderbird - Battlebird

This car and another like it were specially prepared for Ford by Peter De Paolo Engineering in Long Beach, California, to compete in the 1957 Daytona Speed Weeks events. The cars were heavily modified, with aluminum skins for hoods, doors, trunk lids and custom tonneau covers. Engines were moved lower and further back in the chassis, suspensions were strengthened and four-speed Jaguar transmissions were used. With a supercharged Ford 312 cubic-inch V-8, this car was clocked at over 200 mph, but mechanical problems prevented a second run, eliminating the mandatory averaging of two runs to determine an official speed. With a quick change of engine, the car then competed in an airport road race in New Smyrna, just north of Daytona. Driven by Marvin Panch, the car beat the Corvettes in the race, which was its mandate, but finished second to Carrol Shelby in a 4.9 Ferrari. A racing ban by the Automobile Manufacturers Association of its members was soon instituted, ending the car’s racing career after one race.