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It has been 50 years since the 1964 Ford Thunderbolt tore up the drag strips in America. Today it is one of the most recognized drag cars from the glory days of drag racing. However, in 1940 there was another Thunderbolt that was shocking the American automotive community. It was the Chrysler Thunderbolt!

This Chrysler machine was way beyond its time. Compare this shape to a 1940 Ford or a 1940 Chevrolet, heck compare it to a 1940 Chrysler (below) and you will likely not find a single bit of similarity.

1940 Chrysler

The Chrysler Thunderbolt was first shown at the 1940 New York International Auto Show and later toured the US through 1941. There were a total of 8 cars planned but only 5 were ever completed of which 4 remain. The shocking part of this car’s history is that after the show circuit they were all sold to wealthy private citizens! If only the factories would do that today with some of the wildest concepts they produce.

The car was created to educate the public about the benefits of aerodynamics in automotive design and how form follows function. There was great fanfare about the shape having been extensively tested in the wind tunnel.

This car marks the first use of electrically operated concealed headlamps and a retractable hardtop. Ford’s famed 1957 Retractable was preceded by this car by 16 years.

We photographed this example of the Chrysler Thunderbolt at the Atlanta High Museum during its exhibition of concept cars in 2014. Its red color is far more attractive and modern looking than the example below.

This Chrysler Thunderbolt was photographed by us at the Chrysler Museum in 2012 prior to its closing.



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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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