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Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird Image

Ford Thunderbird


The Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 in direct competition with the Corvette. The difference was that Chevrolet rather placed its emphasis on sportiness, while

the Ford factory created a new class that they named “personal luxury vehicles”, respectively focusing on the comfort and convenience features that the T-bird offered

 (in 1955 it already came with air conditioning and electric windows (even the quarterlight)!). The first model year was a huge success story, it outsold the Corvette by more than 23-to-one. Over the years the model increasingly shifted towards becoming a luxury car (while gaining a few hundred kilos and thousands of cm3s (sorry, pounds and cubic inches), then just like every other model in the 70’s it shrank, first in regard to its engine performance, then at the beginning of the 80’s (1980, eighth generation) in its overall size. The years that followed produced nothing worth mentioning, apart from the very last generation manufactured between 2002 and 2005, which, making the most of the retro craze turned out to be a real beauty.

 

The first generation (1955-57) had a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fiber hard top, which, because of the addition of the circular porthole windows from ’56 on, became a trademark of the model. From ’57 the spare tire was moved to a continental-style rear bumper in order to make more storage room in the trunk.

 

1955 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird

 

 

The reason for the introduction of the second generation (1958-60) was that the car’s position as a two-seater limited its sales potential. The new model was redesigned as a unibody construction four-seater gaining almost 500 kilos in additional weight but now also available as a hardtop. Its styling was also changed significantly (resulting in the nickname squarebird) and with the weight gain the performance of available engines also increased to 350 HP (as opposed to the 215 HP that the base engine of the first generation offered)

1958 Ford Thunderbird

1959 Ford Thunderbird

1960 Ford Thunderbird

 

The third generation (1961-63) was again redesigned fundamentally, a horizontal styling line was added that ran from the point where bumper and fender meet back through the door and angled down, which gave the car a distinctively bullet-like appearance (bulletbird). It was available in hardtop and convertible versions but only with a 390 cu in (6.0 L) FE block. The most popular models were the so-called M-Code versions equipped with the tri-power two-barrel Holleycarburetors with 340 HP. The sports roadster version represents the rarest model, in which the closed roof and the rear seats were jointly covered by a special fiberglass cover.

1962 Ford Thunderbird

1962 Ford Thunderbird

 

The fourth generation (1964-66) returned to the squarebird design with somewhat more sophisticated decor. Not much changed really, apart from the fact that on top of the engine range a 428 cu in (7.0 L) FE with 345 HP was on sale for a mere 86 extra dollars – which obviously became a popular option.

1964 Ford Thunderbird

1965 Ford Thunderbird

 

The fifth generation (1967-71) brought major changes again. With the introduction of the Mustang in ’64, Ford created internal competition for the Bird. To prevent the overlap Thunderbird was moved upmarket, shifting towards the luxury segment. The result was the return of the body-on-frame construction and the introduction of the four-door model (at a cost of a few hundred kilograms). One of the most dramatic design elements was the gaping, fighter jet-inspired huge grille opening that incorporated hidden headlights. Another interesting fact: suicide doorswere used for rear seat access. In ’71 the front was again redesigned dramatically to imitate a bird’s beak.

1967 Ford Thunderbird

1967 Ford Thunderbird Ad

1971 Ford Thunderbird

 

The sixth generation (1972-76) models became the biggest Thunderbirds of all time. Built on the same platform as the Lincoln Mark IV and offering a similar equipment level its size and weight (a length of 5.7 m and a weight of 2,100 kg) were not much behind either. In fact, it was nothing less than a somewhat simplified Lincoln. After the oil crisis of ‘73 its popularity declined dramatically (to half of the original sales figures by ’75), while a combination of rising oil prices and rigorous emission requirements drove the last nail into the coffin of the big bird.

1972 Ford Thunderbird

 

The result of the first – not yet dramatic – downsizing was the seventh generation (1977-79). The car, almost identical to the LTD, was some 20 cm shorter than its predecessor, but since its height and width hardly changed, it still seemed pretty big, and was a sight for sore eyes. Its weight was reduced significantly, mostly due to the engine (big blocks replaced by small blocks). It was still not available as a convertible, but T-tops were available as an option.

1977 Ford Thunderbird

 

The eighth generation (1980-82), at the height of the downsizing rage really touched bottom. Not even the years that followed could do little to reverse this. While the ninth (1983-88) and tenth (1989-97) generation still offered relatively big cars by European standards, until 1990 no proper (V8) engines were available as an option. The model ceased without a successor, so the last T-bird rolled off the assembly line on 4 September 1997.

1980 Ford Thunderbird

1983 Ford Thunderbird

1990 Ford Thunderbird

 

Yet in 2002 the model was brought back. The eleventh generation (2002-05) returned to its roots in regard to both appearance and technology (a single V8), but after the first model year sales plummeted, so in 2005 the name Thunderbird disappeared from what Ford offered for good…

2002 Ford Thunderbird

Before I forget, let me present a rock classic with a first generation T-Bird as a finale…

Ára: €-tól | Közzétéve: 2017-03-03 | Kategória: Dream cars