The Ford Thunderbird started out as a design competition by Ford that was announced through Motor Trend in 1950. The competition was to design an all-new 2-seater sports car that would be built on the Ford Anglia chassis which was not the ideal chassis for a sports car. A number of people joined the competition but it was until 1953 that a winner was chosen. The design was made by Vincent E. Gardner and was named as the Ford Vega. The Vega name was a simple word play of his name, Vincent E. Gardner.
At the same time when the Ford Vega was announced as the winning design, Chevrolet introduced the iconic Corvette. Ford felt the pressure and wanted to build a car to compete with the Corvette. The Ford Vega was a sports car that was heavily based on the British sports cars that were very popular at that time, this included the Austin-Healey that was very successful in the United States.
To compete with the foreign invaders, Chevy was the first to counter-attack with its Corvette. Ford believe it was not a good idea to meet the enemy head on and so they instead built a 2-seater luxury car that was also sporty in its own way. This created an all-new category, the “personal luxury car”.
In 1955, the Ford Thunderbird was released and Ford’s plan proved successful by outselling the Corvette. For every Chevrolet Corvette that was sold, Ford sold 23 Thunderbirds. A great start for one of the most iconic classics in the American automobile industry.
From 1958 to 1960, the 2nd gen Ford Thunderbirds were built. The 2nd gen Thunderbirds were created after Ford executive Rober McNamara ordered that the Thunderbird needed a complete redesign and turned into a 4-seater personal luxury vehicle. The 2nd gen Thunderbirds had a significant increase in size and it was around 1,000 lbs. heavier than the 1st gen. To compensate for the heavier load, the engine was also updated into a 352 ci 5.3L engine which was able to produce 300bhp. The Thunderbird may not have the same performance as the Corvette, but its luxurious design made it into a popular highway cruiser. It did not take long for the Thunderbird to be an American icon and could be seen on every highway.
By creating its own playing field, the Ford Thunderbird beat its competitors. Robert McNamara’s idea furthered the success of the Thunderbird and sales skyrocketed. The luxurious 4-seater Thunderbird was available in coupe or convertible configuration. It raised the bar for beauty and power in one luxurious package.
The 1960 Ford Thunderbird featured another redesign and became the top-selling model of all 2nd gen Thunderbirds with over 90,000 cars sold. Out of those cars, this low-mileage 1960 Ford Thunderbird is one of the few that remained in almost original condition. With most of its original components intact, it was completely restored to its original factory specification. It spent a significant part of its life at the Milton Robson collection and properly taken maintained.
Its luxurious beauty is impeccable and originality is guaranteed in every detail. It is an excellent proof of why the Thunderbird was able to successfully create its own genre and remained unchallenged for years.
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