The all-new Thunderbird debuted in 1961, and today remains one of the cleanest, most well-designed cars of the 1960s. This 1961 Ford Thunderbird convertible shows why the "Bullet Birds" are still surging in value while all the others seem to stay pretty flat. Great looks, a strong-running 390, and the versatility of two or four seats make this convertible a great hobby car for any occasion.
If you're going to own a flashy convertible covered in chrome, you may as well paint it bright red. Code J Monte Carlo Red is this car's original color and it sure looks right on the smooth fuselage of this long, sleek Thunderbird. Although there's still enough chrome on the car to remind us that the '50s were not so long before this car was built, the long, unadorned flanks speak for themselves and demand top-quality bodywork. No ripples or waves, good gaps, and a great shine on the finish, which sure doesn't look two decades old. The red is exactly right, not too orange and not too pink, but if you want to keep a low profile, this is the wrong vehicle to drive. From the lovely strip of chrome that runs along the tops of the fenders and incorporates the door handles to the intricate grille to the jet-inspired taillights, this car looks like a movie star from any angle. There are a few signs of use and age here and there, but it's ready to enjoy and few cars make better long-distance cruisers than a 4-seater 'Bird.
The appealing code 54 Beige interior is a nice complement to the red, a little softer and more sophisticated than regular white or black. Bucket seats and a console were standard equipment, as was the cool swing-away steering wheel, and you won't find any faux wood inside this 'Bird. Instead you get brushed stainless and anodized aluminum, beautiful round chrome gauge pods with clock-like instruments inside, and a very futuristic look overall. Options include power windows, factory A/C, and an AM radio that's fully operational. The upholstery, carpets, and door panels look almost new and yes, there's a back seat under the removable Sport Roadster tonneau cover that really gives the car a sleek look. You will also be relieved to know that that the complex convertible top is fully operational with updated relays and pumps, and the top itself is new tan Haartz canvas that looks and feels expensive.
The only engine available was a Z-code 390 cubic inch V8 rated at 300 horsepower, and it's more than adequate to move the Thunderbird with authority. These were unit-body cars, so they aren't as heavy as you might think, and the torquey 390 gives them the moves of a smaller car. However, the long wheelbase and soft suspension tuning makes it feel luxurious under any circumstances. It's neatly detailed with correct gray tinwork on the engine, traditional expansion tank for the cooling system, and reproduction decals and labels as needed. The brakes are upgraded with a dual reservoir master cylinder, there's an alternator instead of a generator, the front end was rebuilt, and the A/C system still uses good old R12 for best results. Ford's Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission is durable and unobtrusive, while the 9-inch rear sports 3.00 gears to make it feel relaxed on the open road. A look underneath will convince you that the 20-year-old restoration was both quite thorough and very well maintained, and it sits on simple steel wheels with chrome hubcaps and fresh 215/75/17 wide whitewall radials.
A great-looking car that comes from down south, this Thunderbird delivers everything you want from a vintage cruiser. Add in great documentation and wonderful colors, and you get a car that's a big win from any angle. Call today!