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Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird (United States of America, 1961-1963)

Ford > Thunderbird > Gen.3 [III]
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In 1961 Ford launched the third generation of the T-bird with improved styling and was even featured in US President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade. This series introduced innovations such as the acclaimed "Swing Away" steering wheel, a floating rear view mirror that is now common in all cars and optionals like white wall tires. During its 3-year run a total of 214,375 units were produced.

It was now much more of a personal luxury coupe than a sports car, and the minting of another nickname for the four-seater, “Bulletbird,” which was assigned for the car’s sharply pointed nose and rounded sides. Sales were strong but slowing by this time, so Ford lent an ear to some dealers’ and customers’ cries for a return to a two-seat roadster-style Thunderbird.

Lee Iacocca appointed designer Bud Kaufman to come up with a fix, and he did: a removable fiberglass tonneau that would both cover up the Thunderbird convertible’s rear seats and incorporate headrests for the front seat occupants. The cover was originally a dealer-installed option, but in 1962, it found its way onto new Thunderbird order forms as part of a Sports Roadster package, which also included a passenger side grab bar, Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels with knock-off center caps, and a rear fender skirt delete, to clear those gaps.



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