The Ford Thunderbird is without doubt one of the most revered names amongst traditional automotive and muscle automotive followers alike. Sadly, the automotive has been out of manufacturing for practically 20 years, however that does not imply we will not admire the historical past and racing pedigree of one in all Ford’s most iconic traditional muscle automobiles. From its unique rivalry with the Chevrolet Corvette to it is time on the NASCAR oval, the Ford Thunderbird has had an attention-grabbing historical past that the majority have forgotten about.
So for those who’re a fan of the T-Chook or simply wish to brush up in your traditional muscle automotive historical past, listed here are 10 issues solely true gearheads know concerning the Ford Thunderbird.
10 11 Generations Of The Ford Thunderbird Have been Produced
The Ford Thunderbird was first bought in late 1954, for the 1955 mannequin 12 months. The automotive was a smash hit, and was bought underneath the Ford model for 11 generations, spanning practically 50 mannequin years.
The Thunderbird spun a number of spin-off automobiles, together with the publish 1973 Mercury Cougar and the Lincoln Mark Collection. Who knew a sports activities coupe would have such an impression on the Ford model?
9 The First-Technology Thunderbird Competed Towards The Chevrolet Corvette
Although the Thunderbird is generally remembered as a private luxurious automotive right this moment, it really started life as a light-weight roadster, particularly geared in the direction of the C1 Corvette.
Each automobiles had been related, packing small-block V8s making just a little underneath 200 horsepower and solely bought in convertible type. The Thunderbird caught on just a little faster because of its luxurious options, which it embraced to create a brand new automotive section.
8 The Thunderbird Began The Private Luxurious Section
Patrons flocked to the Ford Thunderbird, leaving the Corvette behind each on the racetrack and on the showroom flooring, however why? Luxurious choices. The bare-bones sports activities automotive and the brutality of the muscle automotive did not fairly catch on within the Fifties.
Individuals nonetheless desired creature comforts like a delicate trip, heating, and plush leather-based seats. This mixture of luxurious and efficiency birthed the non-public luxurious section. You possibly can thank the Ford Thunderbird for different private luxurious automobiles just like the Buick Riviera and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
7 Tempo Automobile For The 1961 Indy 500
For the reason that race’s inception in 1911, there has at all times been a tempo automotive on the Indianapolis 500. Ford was honored with producing the tempo automotive for the fiftieth operating of the race.
The tempo automotive version of the Thunderbird featured a white delicate prime, brown paint, and the venerable 390 cubic-inch V8. Solely six are recognized to exist right this moment.
6 The Fifth-Technology Thunderbird Featured Suicide Doorways
The Thunderbird turned extra luxurious because the Sixties went on, and Ford even added two further doorways for the fifth-generation Thunderbird.
Ford determined to make them suicide doorways in an try to save lots of house and produce a way of refinement to the Thunderbird. This automotive would not have been practically as cool with out the addition of suicide doorways.
5 Poor Thunderbird Gross sales All through The Malaise Period
Excessive insurance coverage premiums, strict emissions rules, and report excessive gasoline costs successfully killed the muscle automotive period. The Ford Thunderbird was not resistant to the hunch in efficiency automotive gross sales, and suffered all through the Malaise Period.
Gross sales had been practically reduce in half by 1975, and the eighth technology (1980-1982) is usually thought of one of many worst automobiles ever produced by Ford, because of Malaise period engineering.
4 The Thunderbird Turned The NASCAR Chassis Beginning In 1977
The Ford Torino was Ford’s NASCAR chassis from 1968 to 1976, profitable Ford two NASCAR cups within the course of. The Torino was killed off by the Malaise Period, leaving Ford and not using a chassis for the 1977 season.
The Thunderbird was downsized for the 1977 mannequin 12 months, and took the Torino’s spot within the Ford racing line up. The automotive was shortly tailored for NASCAR, however discovered little success.
3 The Aerobird
The Ford-Fox Platform was launched in 1978, and Ford constructed the primary fox physique Thunderbird in 1983. This Thunderbird introduced new aero-styling, incomes it the nickname “Aerobird”. The Aerobird might both be had with a turbocharged 2.3-liter straight-four or the venerable 5.0-liter V8 discovered within the Mustang GT.
The “Aerobird” battled the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, and put up a great combat. Chevrolet managed to cling on to their profitable streak, although, with Ford not profitable a NASCAR championship for practically 30 years.
2 The Thunderbird Turned A Pressured Induction Legend
The Thunderbird title turned synonymous with compelled induction because of the Turbo Coupe of the Nineteen Eighties and the Tremendous Coupe of the Nineties.
The Turbo Coupe featured a turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four good for 155 horsepower. The Tremendous Coupe used a supercharged 3.8-liter V6 good for 245 horsepower.
1 Cancelation, Rebirth, And Cancelation Once more
The Thunderbird was canceled in 1997 because of slumping gross sales of V8 coupes, and the general failure of the non-public luxurious section. Ford introduced the automotive again simply 5 years later, making an attempt to money in on the retro design pattern that was all the fad within the early 2000s.
The brand new Eleventh-generation Thunderbird was primarily a Jaguar S-Kind with 50s styled physique panels, and an inexpensive American inside. The automotive was a gross sales flop, and the Thunderbird was discontinued for good after the 2005 mannequin 12 months.