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Ford Thunderbird

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A sports coupe produced by Ford originally sold from 1955-1957 as a response to the Chevrolet Corvette, the second through tenth generations would be sporty four- and five-seat coupes known as a "personal luxury car." The eleventh generation (2002-2005) would be a return to the two-seat model, a "retro" homage to the original first generation Thunderbird.

Awards and acknowledgements include:
A Complete Guide to Used Cars (1995 Edition) Best Late-Model Bet in the Mid-size Car category (model years 1985-1988)

AMT created a model kit by putting an Allison diesel engine in a 1968 Thunderbird dragster, calling it the Allison Thunderland.

The Ford Thunderbird was the car of NASCAR Winston Cup (the series that would eventually become Sprint Cup) driver's champions Bill Elliott (1988) and Alan Kulwicki (1992).

The back of a pink 1956 Ford Thunderbird with a continental kit appears on the cover of the 2017 book Soon To Be Ex by Jacqueline Newman.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Ford Thunderbird page on 23 May 2017, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Ford Thunderbird is a rear wheel drive automobile which was manufactured by Ford in the United States over eleven model generations from 1955 through 2005. The Thunderbird created a market niche that eventually became known as the personal luxury car.

A smaller two-seater sports roadster was created at the behest of Henry Ford II in 1953 called the Vega. The completed one-off generated interest at the time, but had meager power, European looks, and a correspondingly high cost, so it never proceeded to production. The Thunderbird was similar in concept, but would be more American in style, more luxurious, and less sport-oriented.

The men and their teams generally credited with the creation of the original Thunderbird are: Lewis D. Crusoe, a retired GM executive lured out of retirement by Henry Ford II; George Walker, chief stylist and a Ford vice-president; Frank Hershey, chief stylist for Ford Division; Bill Boyer, designer Body Development Studio who became manager of Thunderbird Studio in spring of 1955, and Bill Burnett, chief engineer. Ford Designer William P. Boyer was lead stylist on the original 1955 two-seater Thunderbird and also had a hand in designing the future series of Thunderbirds including the 30th Anniversary Edition. Hershey's participation in the creation of the Thunderbird was more administrative than artistic. Crusoe and Walker met in France in October 1951. Walking in the Grand Palais in Paris, Crusoe pointed at a sports car and asked Walker, 'Why can’t we have something like that?' Some versions of the story claim that Walker replied by telling Crusoe, "oh, we're working on it"...although if anything existed at the time beyond casual dream-car sketches by members of the design staff, records of it have never come to light.

Walker promptly telephoned Ford's HQ in Dearborn and told designer Frank Hershey about the conversation with Crusoe. Hershey took the idea and began working on the vehicle. The concept was for a two-passenger open car, with a target weight of 2525 lb (1145 kg), an Interceptor V8 engine based on the forthcoming overhead-valve Ford V8 slated for 1954 model year introduction, and a top speed of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Crusoe saw a painted clay model on May 18, 1953, which corresponded closely to the final car; he gave the car the go-ahead in September after comparing it with current European trends. After Henry Ford II returned from the Los Angeles Auto Show (Autorama) in 1953 he approved the final design concept to compete with the then new Corvette.

The name was not among the thousands proposed, including rejected options such as Apache (the original name of the P-51 Mustang), Falcon (owned by Chrysler at the time), Eagle, Tropicale, Hawaiian, and Thunderbolt. Rather, it was suggested to the designer and, in the hurry-up mood of the project, accepted. It is rumored that Jack Austen Crabbs of Davenport Iowa was the owner of the Thunderbird name. Ford acquired the name from Mr Crabbs requiring him to rename his car the "black flame". The word "thunderbird" is a reference to a legendary creature for North American indigenous people. It is considered a supernatural bird of power and strength.

Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California also lays claim to being the inspiration for the name of the car. Ernest Breech, a Thunderbird Country Club member, who was then chairman of Ford Motor Company was supposedly deeply involved in the creation of the Thunderbird. Breech asked the Club’s permission to name the new model after the Club and the club consented to the use of the name.

First generation (1955–1957)

The Ford Thunderbird began life in February 1953 in direct response to Chevrolet's new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before. Under rapid development, the Thunderbird went from idea to prototype in about a year, being unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. It was a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fibre hard top and a folding fabric top. Production of the Thunderbird began later on in 1954 on September 9 with the car beginning sales as a 1955 model on October 22, 1954. Though sharing some design characteristics with other Fords of the time, such as single, circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins, the Thunderbird was sleeker and more athletic in shape, and had features like a hood scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer hinting a higher performance nature that other Fords didn't possess. Mechanically though, the Thunderbird could trace its roots to other mainstream Fords. The Thunderbird's 102.0 inches (2,591 mm) wheelbase frame was mostly a shortened version of that used in other Fords while the car's standard 292 cu in (4.8 L) Y-block V8 came from Ford's Mercury division.

Though inspired by, and positioned directly against, the Corvette, Ford billed the Thunderbird as a personal car, putting a greater emphasis on the car's comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness.

Second generation (1958–1960)

Although the 1955-57 Thunderbird was a success, Ford executives—particularly Robert McNamara – were concerned that the car's position as a two-seater limited its sales potential. As a result, the car was redesigned as a four-seater for 1958.

The new Thunderbird began a sales momentum previously unseen with the car, selling 200,000 units in three years, four times the result of the two seat model. This success spawned a new market segment, the personal luxury car. It was the first individual model line (as opposed to an entire company) to earn Motor Trend "Car of the Year" honors. It was offered in both hardtop and convertible body styles, although the latter was not introduced until June 1958, five months after the release of the hardtop.

Third generation (1961–1963)

The Thunderbird was redesigned for 1961 with sleeker styling that gave the car a distinctively bullet-like appearance. A new engine, the 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8, was the standard and only engine initially offered in the Thunderbird. The V8 produced 300 horsepower (220 kW) and was mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission. The new Thunderbird was immediately well received with 73,051 sold for 1961.

The car was 1961's Indianapolis 500 pace car and was featured prominently in US President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade, who appointed Ford executive Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense. It also benefitted from product placement, notably on the popular television series 77 Sunset Strip.

A vinyl-roofed Landau option with simulated S-bars was added to the Thunderbird for 1962 as was a Sports Roadster package for convertible models. The Sports Roadster included 48-spoke Kelsey Hayes-designed wire wheels and a special fiberglass tonneau cover for the rear seats which gave the car the appearance of a two-seat roadster like the original Thunderbird. The Sports Roadster package was slow-selling due the high price of the package and complexity of the tonneau cover, resulting in few Thunderbirds being equipped with it.

Fourth generation (1964–1966)

For 1964 the Thunderbird was restyled in favor of a more squared-off appearance, which was mostly evident when viewing the car from the side or rear. Hinting at its roots in the previous generation Thunderbird that it evolved from, the new model retained a similar grille design with dual headlights and a 113.2 inches (2,875 mm) wheelbase. As before, the new Thunderbird continued to be offered in hardtop, convertible, and Landau versions. The 300 horsepower (220 kW) 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8 continued as the standard engine for the Thunderbird. It was paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission. For 1965, sequential turn signals were added, flashing the individual segments of the broad, horizontal tail lights in sequences from inside to outside to indicate a turn. Also new for 1965 were standard front disc brakes, and doubled sided keys.

Fifth generation (1967–1971)

The Thunderbird's fifth generation brought the second major change in the car's design direction since its debut in 1955. From 1958 to 1966, the Thunderbird had remained fundamentally the same in concept as a sporty two-door coupe/convertible with two rows of seating. However, the introduction of the Ford Mustang in early 1964 had created a challenge to the Thunderbird's market positioning for it, like the Thunderbird, was also a two-door coupe/convertible with two rows of seating. Where the Mustang had an advantage was in the point that it was substantially cheaper. To prevent overlap between the two cars, Ford's response was to move the Thunderbird upmarket. The result, introduced for 1967, was a larger Thunderbird with luxury appointments more in line with a Lincoln.

The new Thunderbird abandoned unibody construction in favor of a body-on-frame construction with sophisticated rubber mountings between the body and frame to reduce noise and vibration. A pair of significant departures from the previous generation Thunderbird was the elimination of a convertible model and the addition a four-door model, which used suicide doors for rear seat access. The available four-door design would remain a unique feature to this generation as it was not carried on after 1971. One of the most noticeable design elements of the fifth generation Thunderbird was the gaping, fighter jet-inspired grille opening that incorporated hidden headlights.

The 1970 Thunderbird continued with the same platform and many of the same parts and styling cues used in the 1967 to 1969 models, including the sequential turn signals incorporated into the full panel tail lights in the rear of the vehicle. The most noticeable change was in the front fascia where there was now a large prominent projection resembling a bird or eagle's beak that was in line with long angular lines in the hood. Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen, the former GM man now President of Ford, is said to be responsible for this dramatic change. The T-bird was offered in coupe or sports-back models for these two years, the latter being a further distinction from the '67 to '69 models.

In 1971, Neiman Marcus offered "his and hers" Thunderbirds in its 1970 catalog, with telephones, tape recorders and other niceties. Sold only as a pair, they retailed for a total of $25,000 USD. The 1971 Thunderbird was mostly a carry-over from the 1970 model as Ford prepared to release a new, larger Thunderbird for 1972. It was also the last year to offer a four-door.

Sixth generation (1972–1976)

The sixth generation Thunderbird debuted in the fall of 1971 as a 1972 model. With a 120.4-inch (3,058 mm) wheelbase, an overall length of 214 inches (5,436 mm) (growing to 225 inches (5,715 mm) by 1974), and a curb weight of 4,420 pounds (2,005 kg) (over 4,800 pounds (2,177 kg) when equipped with a 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8), it was the largest Thunderbird ever produced by Ford, sharing the body and frame of the Lincoln Mark IV. Matching the large size of the car were large engines, including a standard 429 cu in (7.0 L) V8 and an optional 460 cu in (7.5 L) V8 (standard after 1973). Though offering two of the largest displacement V8 engines ever installed in a production vehicle by Ford, the car's considerable weight combined with low horsepower output caused by restrictive emissions technology resulted in modest performance. As might also be expected from installing a large displacement V8 in a heavy car, fuel efficiency was poor. The big Thunderbirds were popular with sales peaking at over 87,000 units in 1973 in spite of the 1973 oil crisis, but sales had slumped to less than 43,000 by 1975. Finishing off the generation, sales saw an uptick to almost 53,000 units for 1976. Acknowledging increasing fuel prices and more stringent federal emissions standards, a new, down-sized Thunderbird would appear for 1977.

Seventh generation (1977–1979)

For 1977 the Thunderbird was shifted to the smaller 114 inches (2,896 mm) wheelbase chassis that underpinned the 1972–76 Ford Torino and its replacement, the LTD II which also debuted for 1977. Even with the nearly 8 inches in length from the 1975 Thunderbird (only 1.2 inches 217.7 vs 218.9 from the 2nd model year 1973 of 6th generation) it still looked large to the eye. It was not till the next generation 1980 model that it had a dramatic downsize of 17.3 inches from 217.7 to 200.4 inches in length. In 1977, Thunderbird outsold the Oldsmobile Cutlass to become America's top selling personal luxury sedan. It was Ford's first effort at downsizing the Thunderbird, reflecting rising demand for more fuel efficient cars. In essence, this generation was a continuation of the 1974–76 Ford Elite, Ford's first attempt at competing in the market created by the Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Compared to the previous generation Thunderbird, the new car lost nearly 8 inches of overall length at 217.7 and 900 lb (408 kg) of weight, although height and width were relatively unchanged . A substantial component of the weight reduction was in the drivetrain, where a small-block V8 replaced the heavier big-block V8s of previous years and proved to be an outstanding performer. The standard engine outside California was the 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8, while the larger 351 cu in (5.8 L) 351M and 400 cu in (6.6 L) and T-tops were available as options along with the 351W. In California, the 351 was required, and the 400 optionally available. For the first time, a wide fixed "B" pillar was used, reflecting Detroit's abandonment of pillarless hardtops in the mid- and late-1970s. However, the door window glass remained frameless.

Eighth generation (1980–1982)

Reflecting a further industry-wide adoption of smaller vehicle designs in the interest of improved fuel efficiency and emissions compliance, the Thunderbird was redesigned for 1980 on the compact Ford Fox platform, which first appeared only two years prior as the basis for the Ford Fairmont. Compared to the previous Torino-based Thunderbird and its large 114 inches (2,896 mm) wheelbase and 217.7 inches (5,530 mm) overall length, the new Thunderbird lost 5.6 inches (142 mm) of wheelbase and 17.3 inches (439 mm) in overall length. The squarish styling seen in the previous generation Thunderbird was favored for the new model, but the small car platform resulted in a poor translation with a distinctly upright appearance. Frameless door glass was no longer used; a chrome metal frame was used, making this car more like a two-door sedan.

Ninth generation (1983–1988)

In response to the lackluster reception of the eighth-generation 1980–1982 Thunderbird, Ford executed a significant redesign for 1983. Though based on the Fox body like the previous Thunderbird, the new Thunderbird featured a radically sleeker, more aerodynamic body and a slightly shorter wheelbase of 104.2 in (2,647 mm). To power the new Thunderbird, the 3.8 L Essex V6 and 5.0L (302 cid) V8 were carried over from the previous generation with the V8 engine gaining CFI electronic fuel injection in 1983, and the V6 in 1984 for US models, 1985 for Canadian models (which was in turn replaced by multipoint fuel injection on the V8 in 1986 and the V6 in 1988). All-new, and a Thunderbird first, was a turbocharged 2.3 L OHC 4-cylinder engine featured in the 1983 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. The engine initially produced 142 horsepower (106 kW), but by 1985 power was increased to 155 horsepower (116 kW). Another first was the availability of a 5-speed manual transmission with the turbocharged four. In 1983, the higher trim model was the Heritage; this was renamed the elan in 1984. There was also a Fila-branded model. In 1985, a special 30th Anniversary edition was available, with special Medium Regatta Blue Metallic paint, special graphics, and trim.

Even though Ford was already at work on the next Thunderbird generation by 1986, the company sought to continue to cash in on the existing generation's success. As such, for 1987 the Thunderbird received a significant refresh complete with new sheetmetal and a revised front fascia with more aerodynamic single-piece headlamps. Mechanically the car was mostly unchanged. V6s models carried over port fuel injection from 1986 while the Turbo Coupe's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gained an intercooler, increasing output to 190 horsepower (140 kW) and 240 lbs of torque. 1988 was this Thunderbird generation's last as Ford prepared to unveil an all-new Thunderbird for 1989.

Tenth generation (1989–1997)

On December 26, 1988, a completely redesigned Thunderbird was introduced as a 1989 model alongside its sister car, the Mercury Cougar. The new Thunderbird was developed on Ford's MN12 (Mid-Size North American Project 12) platform, which had been in development since 1986. Featuring a nine-inch (229 mm) longer wheelbase than the previous generation Thunderbird and a short-long arm (SLA) four-wheel independent suspension, the car offered excellent handling and ride quality. Significantly, the 1989 Thunderbird was the first in the car's history not to offer a V8 engine, instead offering two different versions of Ford's 3.8 L Essex OHV V6. Standard versions of the Thunderbird received a naturally aspirated version of the V6 producing 140 horsepower (100 kW) while the high performance Super Coupe (SC) model received a supercharged and intercooled version of the engine producing 210 horsepower (160 kW). The naturally aspirated V6 came with an AOD 4-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The AOD was optional on the Super Coupe and a M5R2 5-speed, Mazda-derived manual transmission was standard in the SC model.

The Super Coupe came with an engine having the same displacement (3.8 L) as the naturally aspirated V6, though most all internal components were upgraded to handle the increased torque and temperature generated due to the addition of a supercharger. Among the modifications, the engine block and heads were modified to enhance coolant flow, the crankshaft was upgraded to a fully counter weighted forged unit, the billet roller cam had a unique profile, and the pistons were made of a stronger hypereutectic alloy. The supercharger utilized was an Eaton M90 roots-style, designed for mounting atop the intake manifold. Boost pressure during hard acceleration under ideal conditions is approximately.

In 1990 for the 1991 model year, a V8 was offered in the Thunderbird once again, slotting in between the standard and supercharged versions of the 3.8 L V6. The V8 was the revered 5.0L engine produced at the Cleveland Engine Plant #1, now with more power and torque relative to the last time the engine was used in the Thunderbird in 1988.

For 1992, there was a one-year only Thunderbird Sport model featuring the 5.0 liter V8 engine, the Super Coupe front fascia with fog lamps and colored coordinated lower bodyside stripes.

In 1993, the 1994 model year Thunderbird received a substantial refresh, including stylistic changes inside and out and mechanical enhancements. In particular, the Windsor 5.0 was replaced with Ford's new Modular 4.6 L OHC V8 while the Super Coupe's supercharged V6 was enhanced to produce more power and torque. The performance increase is largely attributed to the tighter gap tolerance of the supercharger rotors allowed by the use of resin coating and a new high flow supercharger case. Simultaneously, the AOD automatic transmission was replaced by the also-new electronically controlled 4R70W 4-speed automatic in all instances where the AOD was previously used in the Thunderbird.

By 1995 Ford began to reduce its investment in the tenth generation Thunderbird. While the Thunderbird received minor changes for 1996, the Super Coupe model was discontinued the previous year and the options list for the remaining models was condensed. In the mid-1990s, Ford decided to discontinue the tenth generation Thunderbird with the last example of the car rolling off the assembly line in Lorain, Ohio on September 4, 1997.

Eleventh generation (2002–2005)

After a hiatus of several years, Ford introduced a new Thunderbird for 2002. Returning to the original formula for the Thunderbird, the latest version had a two-seat coupe/convertible layout like the first-generation Thunderbird and retrofuturistic styling to match. The eleventh generation Thunderbird was built at Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant and was based on the company's DEW98 platform, which was shared with the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type. Though the Thunderbird's exterior styling was unique relative to its platform mates, the instrument panel, steering wheel and other trim pieces were borrowed from Lincoln LS. The sole engine of the Thunderbird was a Jaguar-designed AJ-30 3.9 L DOHC V8, a short-stroke (85mm) variant of the Jaguar AJ-26 4.0 L V8, making 252 horsepower (188 kW) and 267 lb·ft (362 N·m) of torque. The engine was mated to Ford's 5R55N 5-speed automatic transmission. The AJ-30 V8 was replaced by the AJ-35 in 2003 and later Thunderbirds, bringing with it variable valve timing (VVT) and electronic throttle control (ETC) as well as 280 horsepower (210 kW) and 286 lb·ft (388 N·m) of torque. Complementing the extra power and torque provided by the AJ-35 V8, a manual shift feature for the 5-speed automatic called SelectShift was available as an option in 2003 and later Thunderbirds. With sales dropping off significantly after its first model year, Ford decided to make the 2005 model year the Thunderbird's last with no scheduled successor. The last one rolled off the assembly line on July 1, 2005.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1993 Book1993 Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar Service Manual by Ford Motor Company
1994 BookThunderbird: Ford's High Flier by Jay Schleifer; Crestwood House
2003 BookStandard Catalog of Thunderbird 1955-2003 by John Gunnell; Krause Publications


Images

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Ford Thunderbird Drawing Premier Model Kit Box
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2002 AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet (Hershey) Poster - 1956 Ford Thunderbird 2002 AACA Fall National Meet at Hershey
Artist: Ken Eberts
Car: 1956 Ford Thunderbird (foreground)
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1997 AACA Eastern Division National Fall Meet (Hershey) Poster - 1957 Ford Thunderbird 1997 AACA Fall National Meet at Hershey
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Ford Thunderbird Scary Canary Drag Race Car  Model "Scary Canary" Drag Race Car
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1960 Ford Thunderbird 1960 Ford Thunderbird
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1960 Ford Thunderbird 1960 Ford Thunderbird
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View photo of Custom 1966 Ford Thunderbird Model - 2,168KB
1967 Ford Thunderbird 1967
for $7,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1967 Ford Thunderbird - 3.2MB
1967 Ford Thunderbird 1967
for $7,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1967 Ford Thunderbird - 3.4MB
1967 Ford Thunderbird 1967
for $7,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1967 Ford Thunderbird - 3.1MB
1967 Ford Thunderbird 1967
for $7,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1967 Ford Thunderbird - 3.6MB
1967 Ford Thunderbird 1967
for $7,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1967 Ford Thunderbird - 3.5MB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 5,523KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,822KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 4,045KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,286KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,506KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,372KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,445KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,794KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 4,659KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 5,004KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,268KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Fatboyz Cafe Cruise Night:  August 2, 2008
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 3,213KB
Ford Thunderbird Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
September 27, 2009
View photo of Ford Thunderbird - 2,481KB
1978 Ford Thunderbird 1978
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Woodstock on the Square Benefit Car Show
View photo of 1978 Ford Thunderbird - 3.6MB
1978 Ford Thunderbird 1978
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Woodstock on the Square Benefit Car Show
View photo of 1978 Ford Thunderbird - 2.1MB
1978 Ford Thunderbird 1978
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Woodstock on the Square Benefit Car Show
View photo of 1978 Ford Thunderbird - 2.1MB
1978 Ford Thunderbird 1978
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Woodstock on the Square Benefit Car Show
View photo of 1978 Ford Thunderbird - 2.9MB
1978 Ford Thunderbird 1978
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
2018 Woodstock on the Square Benefit Car Show
View photo of 1978 Ford Thunderbird - 2.3MB
1979 Ford Thunderbird Heritage 1979
Ford Public Relations Photo
THUNDERBIRD HERITAGE - One of Ford's most popular and prestigious nameplates, the Thunderbird has a bold new grille, redesigned taillamps and distinctive new paint finishes for 1979.  The new Thunderbird Heritage, shown here, offers top-of-the-line luxury with a long list of standard features including a formal padded-vinyl roof; exclusive monochromatic paint schemes; speed control; leather interior trim; 36-ounce cut-pile carpeting; an AM/FM stereo-search radio; power windows, locks, and six-way driver's seat; air conditioning, and adjustable tilt-wheel steering.
View photo of 1979 Ford Thunderbird Heritage - 2.7MB
1979 Ford Thunderbird 1979
Photo by "ChiemseeMan"
July 2006
View photo of 1979 Ford Thunderbird - 321KB
1979 Ford Thunderbird 1979
Photo by "ChiemseeMan"
July 2006
View photo of 1979 Ford Thunderbird - 274KB
1986 Ford Thunderbird 5.0 1986 5.0
Photo courtesy Photo ©John Walczak.  All Rights Reserved.  Used with permission.
September 1986
View photo of 1986 Ford Thunderbird - 1,412KB
1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine 1987 NASCAR Race Car
Davey Allison Show Car
Photo courtesy Photo ©John Walczak.  All Rights Reserved.  Used with permission.
View photo of 1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine - 1,274KB
1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine 1987 NASCAR Race Car
Davey Allison Show Car
Photo courtesy Photo ©John Walczak.  All Rights Reserved.  Used with permission.
View photo of 1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine - 1,344KB
1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine 1987 NASCAR Race Car
Davey Allison Show Car
Photo courtesy Photo ©John Walczak.  All Rights Reserved.  Used with permission.
View photo of 1987 Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Engine - 1,439KB
1990 Piggly Wiggly Ford Thunderbird Model Car 1990 Piggly Wiggly Stock Car (not an actual paint scheme)
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of 1990 Piggly Wiggly Ford Thunderbird Model Car - 4.0MB
1990 Piggly Wiggly Ford Thunderbird Model Car 1990 Piggly Wiggly Stock Car (not an actual paint scheme)
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 Summer NNL hosted by GTR Auto Modelers
View photo of 1990 Piggly Wiggly Ford Thunderbird Model Car - 4.1MB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,387KB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,587KB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,663KB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,429KB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,276KB
Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model Modified Stock Car
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Cedarville Model Car Contest and Swap Meet
View photo of Ford Thunderbird Modified Stock Car Model - 3,679KB
2002 Ford Thunderbirds 2002s
Photo ©2002 Heidi Walczak
2002 Chicago Auto Show
View photo of 2002 Ford Thunderbirds - 827KB
2002 Ford Thunderbird Modified 2002
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 2002 Ford Thunderbird - 3.9MB
2002 Ford Thunderbird Modified 2002
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 2002 Ford Thunderbird - 3.8MB
2002 Ford Thunderbird Modified 2002
Photo ©2012 Bill Crittenden
2012 The Cars Time Forgot
View photo of 2002 Ford Thunderbird - 3.5MB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
6 October 1966NHTSA Recall 66V004004 1967 Ford Thunderbird
SEATS:FRONT ASSEMBLY:POWER ADJUST
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
15 November 1966NHTSA Recall 66V024000 1967 Ford Thunderbird
SERVICE BRAKES, HYDRAULIC:POWER ASSIST:VACUUM
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
22 February 1967NHTSA Recall 67V019000 1967 Ford Thunderbird
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
March 2005On-Site Child Safety Seat Investigation
Vehicle - 1990 Ford Thunderbird
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 1,324KB - 18 pages
February 2000Veridian On-Site Air Bag Related Child Passenger Fatality Investigation
Vehicle - 1995 Ford Thunderbird LX
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 237KB - 12 pages
3 March 2008NHTSA Recall 08E019000 Intercontinental Auto Parts ALG 44/1, Purolator F10024, 1978-1980 Ford Bronco, 1977 Ford Country Squire, 1977-1980 Ford E-Series, 1978-1982 Ford F-Series, 1980 Ford Fairmont, 1979-1980 Ford Granada, 1977, 1979-1980 Ford LTD, 1980 Ford Mustang, 1975 Ford Pinto
1979 Ford Ranchero, 1977-1980 Ford Thunderbird, 1980 Lincoln Versailles, 1975 Mercury Bobcat, 1977, 1979-1980 Mercury Capri, 1977, 1979-1980 Mercury Colony Park, 1977-1980 Mercury Cougar, 1977, 1979-1980 Mercury Grand Marquis, 1979-1980 Mercury Monarch, 1980 Mercury Zephyr
FUEL SYSTEM, GASOLINE:DELIVERY:FUEL PUMP
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page


1983 Specifications

ModelTurbo Coupe
0-60 mph*9.7 seconds
80-0 mph*282 feet
Cornering Capability*0.788g
Interior Noise @ 70mph*76 dBA
*=Test conducted by Road & Track, January 1983 issue

Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Metal Body Model Kit Revell 85-1582American Dreams '56 ThunderbirdAqua 1:25 scale
Model Kit - AMT T3921957 ThunderbirdModern Classics, 1:25 scale
Pre-Painted Model Kit - Revell 383951957 Ford ThunderbirdProShop, 1:25 scale, Light Blue
Die Cast - Matchbox 96089-09101957 ThunderbirdGreat Drivers, 1:63 scale, Yellow
Die Cast - Matchbox K9483-09101957 ThunderbirdMBX Metal, 1:63 scale, Yellow
Model Kit - Monogram 2904La Bamba Ritchie Valens '58 T-BirdRockin' Rods, 1:24 scale
Model Kit - Monogram 85-4280'58 Ford Thunderbird Convertible 2 'N 1Car Show, 1:24 scale
Model Kit - AMT 30081'62 Thunderbird1:25 scale
Die Cast - Hot Wheels 18543-0910G1'63 T-Bird1998 First Editions, small scale, Metallic Teal
Gunze Sangyo Model Kit'63 Thunderbird1:32 scale
Model Kit - AMT 8042Buddy Baker Thunderbird Stock Car1:25 scale, #21 Valvoline
Model Kit - AMT 8046Dale Earnhardt Thunderbird Stock Car1:25 scale, #15 Wrangler
Model Kit - Monogram 2727Frank Iaconio's Budweiser-Motorcraft Pro-Stock T-Bird1:24 scale
Model Kit - Monogram 0761Alan Kulwicki's Quincy's ThunderbirdAK Collection, 1:24 scale, 1985-1986
Model Kit - AMT 6457Maxwell House Thunderbird1:25 scale, #22 Sterling Marlin
Model Kit - AMT 6740Coors Light Bill Elliott Ford Thunderbird1:25 scale, #9
Model Kit - AMT 8191Raybestos Thunderbird1:25 scale, #8 Jeff Burton
Model Kit - Monogram 2430#10 Tide T-Bird1:24 scale, Ricky Rudd
Model Kit - Monogram 2442McDonald's Thunderbird1:24 scale, Jimmy Spencer #27
Model Kit - Monogram 2469Bill Elliott's #94 McDonald's Thunderbat1:24 scale, Jimmy Spencer #27
Model Kit - Monogram 247810 Tide Thunderbird1:24 scale, Ricky Rudd #10
Die Cast - Hot Wheels 55040-E910 G1T-Bird StockerSmall scale, Dark Blue #4 Hot Wheels Racing
Die Cast - ActionLake Speed 1994 T-BirdPlatinum Series, 1:24 scale, Ford Quality Care #15, production 2,508
Die Cast - Hot Wheels 18088-0912Team Hot Wheels Pro Racing, small scale, #21 CitgoFord Thunderbird, 1st Edition Short Track 1997


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
18 February 2008Legendary Ford T-Bird, TheRonald Firquain
23 September 2012Spotted - 1961 Ford Thunderbird and 1961 Chevrolet Corvette Matt Hubbard, Speedmonkey


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