For sometime now there have been numerous discussions about would anyone every clone a Talladega. Generally, the conclusion has been, no. The thinking being that the cost to clone a Talladega with the staggered shocks and re-rolled rocker panels would just be cost prohibitive since a real Talladega is not that pricey. Well, now that we are seeing prices increase on these cars is that still true?
One of our Team Members has done a Talladega clone even though he owns a real one. The clone does not go so far as to include the revised rocker panels or staggered shocks but is rather convincing just the same. We should note that this VIN has been added to our Talladega Registry and is listed as a Clone. (We have done this previously with a Spoiler II with the hope that it will discourage some future owners who might try to pass them off as real cars.)
Here is Michael Hendricks is going about it.
His Talladega clone was rebuilt from a wrecked one. The original Talladega was Royal Maroon with a 428 CID Cobra Jet engine with 335 HP. The Vin: 9A46Q189780 and was purchased new from Delagrange Ford, in New Haven, Indiana in April of 1969 by a local resident. The original owner owned the car approximately 5 years. It was an everyday driver up until when gas prices shot up in the early 70s gas crisis. At that time, he parked the car behind a local bowling alley. It sat there for about one year.
The car was then purchased by another Fort Wayne resident. The second owner only had the car about one year. While traveling home one night he struck a deer. The car was damaged enough to need a front-end replacement. As was the case with too many Talladegas in similar situations, a regular 69 Fairlane front clip was installed. The car was then involved in a second accident and the insurance company “totaled” the original Talladega. Unfortunately, the car was sent to the crusher and destroyed.
In tribute to that only Ford Talladega sold in the Fort Wayne area, Michael Hendricks took a pristine 1969 Torino GT with a VIN: 9K42H189915 and began his quest for a Talladega clone. He purchased this car in 1973 from Delagrange Ford in New Haven, Indiana. He is the second owner.
In 1976, he acquired the parts from the Talladega. He received everything the original owner had from the car when it was wrecked. This included the outside door emblems, both front fenders, front valance panel, all the inner supports, the inner door emblems, the hood latch and cable, the pull handle on the cable, all the nuts, bolts and washers. Also included was the rear “T” on the chrome emblem. The only thing he did not get that was Talladega specific was the hood. Although the left front fender was damaged some and the front header panel was bent. Rather than repair the fender he decided to purchase a new one.
He visited his friendly Ford dealer, Allen County Ford, to see if he could order one. The parts guy looked it up in the price book and a price was listed. That meant it was available! Michael says the dealerships billing for the fender came from Holman-Moody. Before you run down to your Ford dealer and try this remember, this was 30 years ago.
The maroon fender hanging on the wall is the original Talladega fender that was damaged, was recently pulled from his attic, cleaned, buffed and added to his garage’s decor.
Since he had the parts Michael decided to turn the 351 Windsor powered Fairlane GT into a Talladega. It took about a year to do the conversion. The clone was painted the original color of the GT, Spring time yellow. The cloned Talladega became a daily driver. After some time on the street it was stored for a few years before being put back on the road. It remained that way for over 40 years.
Then he decided to freshen the car and change the color to Wimbledon White and add an AOD 4 speed transmission. The car now resides at the North-Eastern Indiana Racing Museum, in Auburn, Indiana. The car is displayed around the corner from Michael’s real Talladega.
How did Michael get the front clip?
Michael used to own a Marathon Service Station, Mike’s Marathon, in FT. Wayne IN. The person he got the original Talladega parts from was a friend of an employee of his. One day at the station the two friends were talking cars when the employee mentioned to his friend that Michael liked Fords. The friend stated he had seen a Talladega at his high school. The conversation rapidly progressed from there.
It seems the owner of the Talladega was an 18 year old high school kid. He and a friend had gone together and bought the car. They bought it because it had a 428 CJ in it. They knew nothing of a “Talladega”, they just bought a fast car to beat, and beat it they did. His employee told Michael they bought more tires than one could imagine. They would take it out on gravel roads to “drift” with it. More than once it wound up in the ditch and, or a cornfield. One fall night while they were going down a country road a deer ran in front of them. They hit the deer with the side of the car, or the deer hit them in the door. They replaced the door. Then, same road a few months later another deer. This time it got the front end, left front fender, and header panel. It really was not that bad the grill, headlight doors, etc. were all ok. Even the rubber filler around the grill to block wind was ok. (Missing on this clone are the re-rolled rocker panels, staggered rear shocks, oil and PS coolers.)
Obviously, the boys could not find a Talladega fender or front header panel for that car in the local junk yard. They could find a regular Torino, or Fairlane in the yard, so they installed a Fairlane front end. They were not interested in a Talladega; they just wanted a fast car. Also, Michael doesn’t believe they were turning all this in to the authorities or their insurance company. When the boys finished there body work on the Talladega the original parts were left just laying in the kid’s side yard; just thrown there. He was going to take it all to the junk yard, just to get rid of it.
When Michael’s employee told him about it. As on older wiser man might do, Michael told the employee to see if he might save the high school dare devils a trip to the junk yard. Michael offered to clean up the yard for the parts. The answer was “yes”. With help of his brother Michael quickly went to this kid’s house and there the parts were, all over the yard. They gathered them all up loaded them intp his pickup and went back to the station to see what treasures they had salvaged. The rare parts then sat stored away in the station for a while, until he decided to change his GT into a Talladega.
The kids’ maroon Talladega had visually become a “regular” Fairlane, powered by a 428 CJ. They continued to beat it, and finally wrecked it bad enough to require it be towed to the kid’s home. This time it was turned into the insurance company and they declared it “totaled”. The insurance company paid the kid his money, towed the car away and sold it for junk. Sad story for such a wonderful car.
Michael Hendricks’ Real Talladegas
Michael did buy another Royal Maroon Talladega from a guy in Missouri. A couple years later. When he bought the real Talladega the mice had eaten the interior. He repaired that and drove it for a while, and then sold it to a guy in the Air Force. He drove it to his duty station in Nebraska. He and his wife divorced. She got the Talladega. From what he knows. her new boyfriend and her moved to California and the Talladega has never been heard from again.
Today, Michael owns another real Talladega which was a former drag race car. It has a 427 side oilier with dual tunnel port heads. That is another story for another day.