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Ford Thunderbird History

1962 Ford Thunderbird

The 1962 Thunderbird Convertible


Legend of the Thunderbird

The Ford Thunderbird's legendary name originates from the Native American folklore of Arizona and New Mexico.

According to myth, Thunderbird ruled the sky and was a divine helper of man. It's great flapping wings - invisible to mortals - created the winds and thunder, providing the desert rains which gave the Native Americans water to live on in the dry wilderness where fate had cast them.

Ever since the first production model was built in 1954, the Ford Thunderbird's appeal has spread from its American roots all over the world. For the best part of 42 years, the ever-evolving "T-Bird" has been adored by everyone from surfers to US presidents. In 1961, the Ford Thunderbird caught the eye of the then newly-elected President of the United States, John F Kennedy, who demonstrated his passion for the car by including 50 of them in his inaugural procession.

1950s All-American Icon

The original Ford Thunderbird, introduced in 1954 as a '55 model, was a sporty two-seater. It's long cowl was set off by elegant round headlamps, an "egg-crate" radiator grille and a wraparound, aircraft-style windscreen. A scoop in the bonnet and a row of chrome-like vents in the bumpers hinted at the car's V-8 power.

In 1956, the famous porthole window was added to Ford Thunderbird's optional removable hard top.

1955 Ford Thunderbird

The Ford Thunderbird shifted from being a two-seater to full-sized coupé amid the economic realities of later years. But, despite 42 years of design and size changes, the unique styling of the original two-seater has come to symbolize an era of American history.

As Ford Vice-President of Design J Mays explained: "The 1955 to 1957 Ford Thunderbirds are as symbolic of the times as rock and roll music and bobby socks. Today's Ford Thunderbird Concept salutes the original but also symbolizes turn-of-the-millennium automotive styling."

Classic Ford Thunderbirds

The original 1955 Ford Thunderbird was a racy two-seater, and first came off the line at Ford Motor Company's Dearborn, Michigan, plant on September 9 1954.

The four-passenger 'Square Bird' was first unveiled in 1958 at a New Year's Eve party at the exclusive Thunderbird Golf Club in Palm Springs, California.

The 'Projectile Bird' - featuring full body-length sculpturing – was first launched in 1961, including automatic transmission, power-steering, power brakes, and a unique 'swing-away' steering wheel.

1963 Ford Thunderbird

The 1962 'Sports Roadster' featured a moulded fibreglass tonneau and padded headrests which turned this four-seat convertible into a two-seater. It also boasted wire wheels, with chrome-plated spokes and rims, simulated know-off hubs caps, and an assist bar for passenger comfort during cornering.

The 1967 Ford Thunderbird was marked by a crisp, deeply inset lattice-work radiator grille, framed by a deep-sectioned bumper, while the headlights were concealed by doors at the outer edges of the grille.

1967 Ford Thunderbird

The 1983 Ford Thunderbird ushered in Ford's new "aero-style" design, paving the way for the revolutionary shape of the 1986 Ford Taurus.

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