Thunder Hawk Mustang
John Gunnell - April 09, 2014 10:18 AM
Thunder Hawk Mustang...only 8 existCourtesy of John Gunnell
Delonzo Rhyne is a 65-year-old craftsman with a warm smile, an infectious laugh and the mind of an inventor. As proof, he brought his inventive Thunder Hawk Mustang as one of 60 vehicles that Steele Rubber Co. (www.steelerubber.com) sponsored for the annual Hot Rod & Restoration Show.
It took Rhyne two-and-a-half years to create his first Thunder Hawk, which he considers to be the series prototype. After he completed it, a customer came to his shop looking for help with a ‘66 Mustang convertible project. He asked Rhyne to convert it into a Shelby. Rhyne started telling his client that he couldn’t build him a car with the name “Shelby” on it. The man saw the Thunder Hawk in the shop. "What is that?" he asked. "That's my personal answer to the Shelby,” Rhyne told the man.
The Thunder Hawk uses a Jasper Stage II crate engine crate with Roush heads, Eagle Claw exhaust headers and a GT exhaust with resonators to pump out 330-plus horsepower.
Rhyne recently took a deposit from a customer for his ninth Thunder Hawk order. A combination of special appearance features and add-on performance bits make it easy for Rhyne to attract attention and realize sales.
The Thunder Hawk derives its name from the combination of the power and rumble of thunder with the predatory nature of the hawks he saw on the farm where he grew up. "We had chickens on our Tennessee farm,” he says. “Big hawks with gold feathers on their chest would swoop down and prey on our chickens.”
The twin gold stripes seen on Thunder Hawks’ hoods were used to represent the gold breasts of the hawks. Rhyne trademarked the name of his model and the logo. "Creating this car reinvigorated me,” he noted. “I can't wait to go to work in the morning so I can build the next car."