Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Twofer Tuesday returns with 'birds of a feather

THUNDERBURGS
Usually I try to pair up almost identical vehicles for Twofer Tuesday. However, today I am offering up 2 vastly different rides sharing the same name and color to show the evolution of a nameplate. I present to you a brace of Ford Thunderbirds in burgundy:
First off we have this beauty; a 1965 convertible in Royal Maroon Vintage Burgundy Poly (easily the longest factory color name I've seen to date!). This model is from the 4th generation Thunderbird, which ran from '64-'66. I'm not alone in considering this generation and the one before it (3rd gen from '61-'63) as being the high water mark for Fords personal luxury car. There are plenty of fans of the smaller mid-'50s design, but these rides were more brash.
For 1965 this was a seriously capable car! The standard engine was the 390 V8 good for 300 horsepower. Incredibly, front disc brakes were standard in '65 as well. Disc brakes were rare in those days and were typically available as a high-cost option on the few cars that offered them.
Look at that 1965 face! Four round headlights, downward-sloping catfish mouth of a grill, stylized thunderbird emblem on the leading edge of the hood, and a prominent but fake hood scoop all combine for a very '60s look. This generation sold extremely well thanks to its somewhat formal/somewhat aggressive design. The suspension was all big-car though with a wishy-washy overly cushioned ride as opposed to a taught sports car feel.
The bold lines were the one constant for the Thunderbird from the '50s through the late '70s. Even the design missteps such as the bloated beached whale of the late '50s could never be called uninspired or boring. The generation after this one was one of the most daring, with a full-width grill hiding concealed headlights and the only 4-door T-bird ever produced, with suicide rear doors no less!
This forward-leaning chrome decoration just behind the front wheel well is the quickest way to identify this as a '65.
This car is about as close to mint condition as any classic parked on the street. Here we can glimpse the interior including the convertible top mechanism complete with chromed hinges. Check out those wraparound rear lounge seats! Above the fold-down armrest in the back is a center speaker. In the age of mono sound this was plenty. 
Here we have the signature feature of the '65; sequential taillights. When you used the turn signal the squares of the taillight would light up in twos from the center of the car outward in the chosen direction. This would reappear on Mercury Cougars of the late '60s/early '70s before being forgotten to the ages.
But enough of this classy chrome spear of decadence and power! On to the next chapter:
Oh MAN! "Where has the time gone?" this T-bird seems to say as it squints through blind eyes. This, ladies and gentleman, is a 1980 Thunderbird in what seems to be Medium Bittersweet Poly with a White "Valino Grain" vinyl landau top. You can tell definitively that this is the '80 due to that bit of simulated grill on the front bumper.
I featured a car identical to this one in the early days of this blog but that post was about a blue car in truly horrific condition. To find one this nice anywhere at all is ridiculous! I feel like there must be a story behind it along the lines of it sitting in the window of a Ford dealership since new for it to be in such nice shape.
 This generation T-bird was built on the Fox platform along with the Mustang and the Fairmont. Unfortunately for customers still holding on to the belief that this was Fords flagship of luxury the 8th generation 'bird was really a heavier, tarted-up Fairmont. 
A wing? Dude, seriously? You have the only museum-condition 1980 Thunderbird in the world and you screw a black plastic wing on it? That wing is holding NOTHING down as this ride could barely reach 99 mph (that's the official score too! Ford wouldn't even fudge the 1 extra mile per hour for glory). With the woeful (and now thankfully rare) 4.2 Liter 255 V8 as standard the only way you'll ever see those sweet full-width taillights is to park behind one.
Okay I found a flaw on this car; the faux chrome housing on that last bit of taillight that wraps its way around the corner is flaked off or missing. That's it! Looking at this pics now I feel foolish for not checking the tires to see if they're factory originals because that is how perfect this ride is. Whoever installed that wing should feel very bad.
Enough is enough this is the worst Thunderbird ever made by far. Still, it's an interesting time warp and a fine comparison to the earlier Burgundy Bird. To think this was offered to the public a mere 15 years after the 1965 is mind boggling, but those years were some of the most difficult to navigate in automotive history. This small square of a ride is indicative of the year Reagan was elected and the U.S. boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow, and the Kansas City Royals lost their first of 2 World Series (so far). Go Royals!

3 comments:

  1. Where'd you see this? How close is it to 119 Hasely St Brooklyn?
    I wan't to buy it off the owner. Thanks

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    1. Hey New York, that '80 T-bird was parked in front of a lot on South 2nd Street between Wythe & Kent. It was 2 and a half years ago though so good luck with the hunt!
      PS - I have seen it since driving or parked somewhere but I forget where

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  2. The 1980 T-Bird with that silly wing.

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