1961 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
Beehive hairdos, Balsa wood airplanes, banana seats, barbie dolls, and Beetlemania are just a few of the trends that were happening in the early 1960's. The jet age was upon us and was a huge influence in the design of automobiles of the time. Jet engine taillights, aerodynamic windswept design lines, and pushbuttons were going to be the wave of the future, so they thought.
The beneficiary of a restoration 10 years ago which included new paint, and an engine and transmission rebuild this “Bullet Bird” or “Rocket Bird” has flown into our hallowed halls and landed in the main showroom at Classic Auto Mall. Consigner states that a mere 13,471 miles have been clocked and it does look the part. This California car has some history a mile high, and with the options, and color it's in rarefied air.
From its smoothed over bullet shaped front featuring a matching curved bumper, good forward-looking chrome, dual headlights and Thunderbird centered badge, we are just taking off with this beauty. From its chrome trimmed intake bump in V form on the hood, to its chrome trim topped fenders, doors and rear quarters, everything appears straight and nicely painted in red. Looking at it from the rear, the round taillights capped by 45-degree mini fins, we definitely have landed in the jet age of design. Stylish rear fender skirts in matching red, hover over wide whites with chrome spoked wire hubcaps. Upfront we see the swooped back cut fender wells with pristine wide whites and more chromed spoked wire hubcaps. A electrically actuated convertible top in white canvas and a clear plastic window, retracts effortlessly into the trunk…a sight worth the price of admission.(BTW Classic Auto Mall has no admission!) Paint appears in very good condition and has just a few faults that barely catch even the discerning eye. You are clear for takeoff on runway 25E.
Peering into the future by way of swinging the doors open we are seeing wonderful curved aluminum panels on the dash front as they make their way to the doors. In the middle there is a seamless downward dive of more curved aluminum that forms a center console. Above this curvaceous aluminum are two rounded over cowls which form the red padded vinyl dash top. 3 round gauges float just below this padding, as well as several knobs and levers for all the essential controls. A nice original design tilt away steering wheel fronts this sexy dash and sports a delicate half round horn ring. The buckets are covered in red vinyl and sport white inserts in a tuck and roll pattern and appear in good condition. A nicely curved bench imitates the design of the buckets, but now fused together. This is hidden due to the dual rear cowl which integrates the front buckets and will make you look even more like a fighter pilot. Bogies!! 1 O'clock!
As true for any quality restoration, plenty of attention has been paid to the engine bay. It has been fully restored, and the engine rebuild took the liberty of chroming the valve covers, painting the air cleaner cover black, as well as radiator overflow and fill reservoir. Nice supple shiny hoses and wiring abounds under here and the original FoMoCo windshield wash bag hangs in there on the passenger's side. Specs are a 390ci V8, single 4-barrel Autolite carburetor, a 3-speed MX Cruise-O-Matic, and a Ford 9” 3.00 geared rear. Watch out for the flotsam and jetsam….
Looking as nice as can be expected from an undercarriage, we see straight steel, no rust, and good mechanicals. These would include independent front suspension, and rear leaf spring suspension, as well as 4-wheel power drum brakes.
In a nutshell very nice, smooth idle, easy automatic shifting, and a great ride. This car has still got it on the power end as it will put out 300hp.
Overall rebuild work on the mechanicals and a nice respray certainly done with care, as we have a really nice “Bullet Bird”. We are now ready to hear the safety announcements, so make sure your setbacks and tray tables are in the upright position and pay attention to your flight attendant. Hold on, as off we go into the wild blue yonder. Barrel roll please, let me grab my air sick bag!
Y-Wixom, MI Assy Plant
Z-390 ci V8 4bbl 300hp
162131-Sequential Unit Number
BODY 76A-Thunderbird Convertible
TRIM 85-Red Leather
DATE 20F-June 20th Build
TRANS 4- Cruise O Matic 3 Speed
AXLE 6-3.00 Conventional