Dan Gurney again won the Motor Trend 500 to start 1964, but the Ford XLs ran into trouble at Daytona. Chrysler Corporation brought back its fabled hemi V-8 for the race. It wasn't a production item, but that didn't seem to bother NASCAR.
Ford cried foul. If Chrysler could run the hemi, Ford should be allowed to race its experimental overhead-cam 427. NASCAR said no, but the existing 427 could be tweaked with a high-rise manifold and a higher rev limit. Ford quickly attended to both, and was not at a big disadvantage on the shorter tracks.
The hemis stole the show, winning the Daytona 500, the World 600 at Charlotte, North Carolina, and finishing 1-2-3 at the Darlington 500. Yet in a convincing display of what "Total Performance" was all about, Ford ended up winning 30 of the 62 scheduled events to tie the all-time record for single-season victories set by Pontiac in 1961.
Dodge had 14 wins in all, Plymouth 12. Mercury, which scored only five, abandoned its NASCAR effort at the end of the season after notching just six victories in two years.
Politics prevailed in 1965. NASCAR said the hemi-stockers now had to be full-size. Chrysler walked out, only to come back at mid-season when its intermediates were allowed in short-track events. Nevertheless, the MoPar camp's first win didn't come until Ford had reeled off 32 straight victories. Ford went on to take 48 out of the 55 events on the card, a record never equaled before or since.
The 1966 campaign marked the end of an era. NASCAR finally approved Ford's ohc 427 engine, provided some extra weight was added to the cars that ran it. Ford, feeling this move left it uncompetitive, pulled its factory teams in April, which left the field wide open to the MoPars.
But while they were away, several Ford teams experimented with the Fairlane, which was fully redesigned for 1966 and could now easily accept a big-block engine. Ford relented in the fall and sent its teams back into the fray. Not surprisingly, many of them returned with Fairlanes instead of Galaxies.
By the start of the 1967 season, all the factory squads were running the quicker intermediates, thus ringing down the curtain on the big Fords' NASCAR career.
Find specifications for the 1962-1970 Ford XL in our final section.
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