RARE FINDS

Muscle Car Review - - Contents - By Jerry Heasley

1969 Ford Talladega

“In 1983, he got a di­vorce, took off for Alaska, and left it at his mom’s house,” Mike Lat­tin said. “They would come down in the sum­mer, visit his mom, start the car, and the son would al­ways say, ‘Dad, Dad, let’s take the car out.’

“The dad would say, ‘No, not li­censed.’

“The son would say, ‘Let’s take the plate off Grandma’s car.’

“And his dad would al­ways say nope.”

Af­ter two or three years, the fa­ther stopped com­ing back.

The son grew up, moved back, and lives in his grandma’s house, where the Talladega re­mained parked. Re­cently the fa­ther re­al­ized he wasn’t go­ing to do any­thing with the car, which brought about the sale.

Mike Lat­tin runs a shop called Mainly Mus­cle Cars in Gran­ite Falls, Washington. He heard about the Talladega through a friend he calls “Mon­tana Mike” in He­lena.

“Mon­tana Mike found the Talladega on a Face­book ad in a lit­tle town called Big Tim­ber, which is in Mon­tana.”

Be­fore Lat­tin drove 773 miles from Washington State, Mon­tana Mike in­spected the Talladega. Ap­par­ently, the two doors to the garage that housed the Talladega hadn’t been opened in “for­ever,” from the looks of a large pile of tires and “junk” in front of them.

Mon­tana Mike looked at the car and sent pic­tures to Lat­tin. The white Talladega was “su­per solid with day-two speed parts.”

Of course, the dad and son knew what they had, a 1969 Talladega, ev­ery one of which was pow­ered by a 428 Co­bra Jet driv­ing a set of 3.00 gears through a C6 au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

“It had been wrecked at one time, and they re­placed the front door pil­lar, the door, and I think the fender,” Lat­tin said. The Talladega wasn’t run­ning when they picked it up.

At the shop, Lat­tin drained the old oil and re-oiled the 428 be­cause it hadn’t been started since the mid-1980s. He was in­trigued to find a 427 dual-point dis­trib­u­tor. He poured gas in the car­bu­re­tor, which he did not

even take apart.

“I just put gas down the vent, and fresh gas in the tank, and it popped like mad. We did a burnout in our park­ing lot, when the land­lord was here. He said, ‘Well, that put some hair on my chest.’”

Lat­tin’s 17-year-old daugh­ter, Tay­lor, seen here with a 1969 GT500, went with her dad and un­cle on the Mon­tana trip. “When my dad first came to me with the idea of the

“As­ton­ish­ingly, each tire held air”

Mon­tana trip, I was hes­i­tant,” she said. “As a teenager dur­ing one of my last sum­mers be­fore the end of my high school ca­reer, there were sev­eral things I had to con­sider be­fore agree­ing to join them. Pre­vi­ous com­mit­ments and the thought that par­tic­i­pat­ing in the trip might leave me with ma­jor FOMO [fear of miss­ing out.—Ed.] of the plans that my friends might make while I was away made me con­sider my op­tions care­fully.”

She did go, and her com­ments about the find are in the story’s cap­tions.

Read­ers can con­tact Jerry Heasley at jer­ry­[email protected] and fol­low him on Twit­ter @jer­ry­heasley. He is look­ing for rare finds, the “ones that got away,” and sto­ries of cars with prove­nance. He will travel to sig­nif­i­cant rare finds to doc­u­ment them as they are pulled out.

“It had been wrecked at one time”

n “The real ex­cite­ment be­gan for me when we started to roll the tires away from the lazy garage doors,” said Tay­lor Lat­tin, 17-year-old daugh­ter of the man who bought this rare find. “The owner of the place looked at me with wide, sur­prised eyes as I started to un­stack them with the rest of the guys. I wasn’t afraid to get my hands dirty. The sus­pense grew when we got the last tire out of the way and dragged open the first layer of wooden barn doors to un­veil the sec­ond garage door. We slid open the creaky man-door that was nes­tled into the faded sid­ing, sneak­ing past the slum­ber­ing Talladega. It was dark and dusty in­side, and only the car’s sil­hou­ette hit the back of the garage door from the light that shone in brightly from the man-door.”

n Tay­lor said, “The sum­mer Mon­tana sun shone in be­neath the door and climbed lim­berly atop the dirty hood of the Talladega, re­veal­ing the aged 1970s af­ter­mar­ket pin­stripes and pre­served in­te­rior. We were all fueled with a new sense of de­ter­mi­na­tion by the sight of her. The tires had been held up on jacks while be­ing stored, so we de­cided to fill them. We held our breath, and, as­ton­ish­ingly, each tire held air.”

n “My dad and un­cle both rushed to the car like nurses to a new­born, and opened the doors to un­leash the un­pleas­ant per­fume of moth balls.”

n “My heart was rac­ing, and I was just think­ing of how she’d look fully em­braced in the sun’s rays,” said Tay­lor. “We re­moved all the jacks and got be­hind her, push­ing and shov­ing un­til she be­gan to roll out into the fresh air. Once she was out, we all had to stand back and ad­mire her beauty.”

n Ev­ery Talladega came with a 428 Co­bra Jet backed by a C6 au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. None was a Su­per Co­bra Jet or had ram air.

n Talladega Fords came with an oil cooler, which was usu­ally re­served for cars with the Drag Pack op­tion. The Talladega was the one and only au­to­matic car up un­til that point in which the fac­tory in­stalled stag­gered rear shocks. “She only had the af­ter­mar­ket head­ers, air cleaner, and in­take man­i­fold,” Tay­lor said, “but still had the orig­i­nal and very rare Co­bra Jet oil cooler.”

n Tay­lor, seen here with a 1969 Shelby GT500 in her dad’s shop, is 17 and a mus­cle car en­thu­si­ast.

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