The 1969 Ford Talladega arose from Ford's traditional rivalry with Chrysler, which wasn't limited to battles at the showroom but extended onto the stock-car ovals. In order to enter NASCAR Grand National races as a "production" vehicle, Ford had to build 500 streetable examples. Thus arose the Talladega (often called Torino Talladega), named for a new speedway in Alabama.
At the start of 1969, Ford closed its Atlanta plant for two weeks to focus on this special model, which started life as a base SportsRoof. Enhanced aerodynamics were the key, led by a streamlined front end and flush-fit grille that stretched the body to 206 inches.
Among the many alterations, Ford had to re-roll the rocker panels to develop the lower body needed for racing, which required modification of the front fenders to match. Aero extensions were welded to each front fender, whose leading edges mated with the grille.
Beneath the flat-black hood, NASCAR racers would get a Tunnel-Port 427-cid V-8. Talladegas sold to the general public carried the 428 Cobra Jet mill, with Cruise-O-Matic and a 3.25:1 Traction-Lok axle. Staggered rear shocks were part of the Talladega's competition handling suspension.
Only three colors were sprayed: Royal Maroon, Presidential Blue, and Wimbledon White -- with one exception. A single bright yellow preproduction example was built for president Knudsen. Inside was nothing special: a black-upholstered bench seat, ordinary column gearshift, standard instruments.
By the time Ford was finished, 754 street Talladegas had been built, including prototypes. It would not return for a second season, making this "one-year wonder" a rare find today.
Read about the specifications for the 1969 Ford Cobra and Talladega on the next page.