Ford Thunderbird – Overview and History

Ford Thunderbird Overview & History

Ford Thunderbird is a worth-discussing personal luxury car manufactured in 1955; this state-of-the-art luxury car by Ford is trendy among automobile enthusiasts. The first Ford Thunderbird came as a 2-seat convertible. In the later years, it came in many different configurations, including four-seat convertibles, five-seat convertibles and hardtops, four-seat hardtop coupes, 4-door pillared hardtop sedans, 5-passenger pillared coupes, and six-passenger hardtop coupes. Surprisingly, it started and ended as a two-seat convertible for its last generation was also designed as a 2-seat convertible.

Ford Thunderbird was a response to Chevrolet Corvette; However, it was not marketed as a sports car, unlike Chevrolet Corvette. Ford released it as an upscale model, for the 1958 model was designed with a second row of seats.

It ensures excellent performance and reliability; most of its popularity comes from its use in television movies. The Royals also owned some initial models of Ford Thunderbird. There are a few cars that companies started producing again after discontinuation because of public demand, and Ford Thunderbird is one of them.

The Ford Thunderbird saw a significant variation in this luxury car’s design, configuration, performance, features, and power. Let’s look at the historical perspectives of this iconic nameplate by Ford that earned an international reputation.

The beginning of Ford Thunderbird:

Henry Ford collaborated with Lewis Crusoe, a General Motors executive, to develop a car in response to the Chevrolet Corvette closing off the collaboration, resulting in the Ford Thunderbird production. It had an interior seating position, pedal angles, and steering wheel angle. It was showcased at the Detroit auto show in 1954. 3500 orders were received within the first ten days of the car exhibition. For many reasons, Thunderbird was more successful than its competitor Chevrolet Corvette.

The first-generation Thunderbird:

The Ford 1956 model had some variations compared to the 1955 model with a sportier look. It was advertised as a personal car instead of a sports car and featured a V8 engine below the hood with a 3-speed manual all transmission.

The 1956 model had circular windows in the side panels in its removable hardtop configuration. The change in the spare wheel position to a chromed cradle on the rear bumper led to improved handling and weight distribution. Thunderbird was comparable to the European cars’ speed. The initial Thunderbirds had a bench with two bucket seats that could accommodate only two passengers. The steering wheel was significant, which posed great difficulty for the driver. However, it was a massive success with a more powerful engine.

The 1957 model increased sales with many revisions, including placing the bumper underneath the grille and removing chromed components. The engine choices were the same; however, the supercharger significantly boosted the power.

The second-generation Thunderbird:

People were becoming more aware of luxury cars by 1958, and Ford fulfilled the customer’s demand with added rear seats in their 1958 Thunderbird. The 1958 model had a loose scare styling with a V8 engine that produced 300 horsepower with a 3-speed manual or automatic transmission.

In 1959, Thunderbird got a new look with a chromed grille under the bumper and new rubber protectors. The rear taillights got more expansive, and the interior cabin improved.

There were two engine options in the 1960 model.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th generation of Thunderbird:

The third generation of Thunderbird had a completely new design with a sleeker body style that came in hard top and soft top configurations. It offered a more luxurious look with a lower grille, steep windshield, and curved hood. Moreover, there was a 6.4-liter engine with an automatic transmission under the hood.

The 4th generation models were four-seat coupes that were longer and offered great comfort and performance. The fifth generation focused more on technology and innovation.

The 6th to 10th Generation Thunderbird:

The 6th Thunderbird generation was famous for its enormous engines and sheer size. The sales results were not so great because of oil prices. There were two engine options, including a 7 or 7.5-liter model.

In the next few generations, there was a reduction in the car’s size and dimensions. The car’s braking system was altered, I.e., rear drum brakes and front disc brakes. More engine options and better transmissions were offered. Some models had common built-in problems that the owner could resolve using the Ford Thunderbird Repair Manual.

Ninth to Eleventh Generation Thunderbird:

The 9th generation Thunderbird was not very popular because of its low speed. It was sleek with a long hood and a short trunk that gave away a dynamic look with big horizontal headlights. The front bucket seats were very comfortable, and the wood trims on the dash panel added more to the personal luxury of the car.

The 10th generation Thunderbird was a four-seat coupe with a Thunderbird badge on the hood. The bumper’s lower side had a grille with air intakes that kept the engine at an optimum temperature.

The Thunderbird didn’t make it to market till 2001; the 2001 Thunderbird had a retro design with modern features. It was a two-seat coupe with big round headlights and slopped silhouette. It had a 3.9-liter V8 engine with a standard 5-speed automatic transmission.