Saturday, July 16, 2011
Vintage Thunderbird Club of Kansas City cook some pretty birds in the Thoroughbred Ford parking lot
Unlike the Corvette, the T-Bird didn’t try to be a purebred sports car. It was more of a personal luxury vehicle. It had the heavy, chrome-drenched feel of the full-sized ’55 Ford, and in fact shared many of the same components.
In 1958, Ford tried something completely different to increase sales even further. The second-generation, or “Square-Bird” style, featured more chrome, more glitz, and more room. The two-seat T-Bird was no more, as now the personal luxury vehicle was a little less personal with the addition of a backseat.
Thunderbirds rolled with the times in the 1970s. The continued to grow; and they continued to sell. During this time, T-Birds competed with the likes of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. They were big, floaty, and plush. But they were also tough and reliable. Even today, it is not uncommon to see one of these big, old land barges living out their second or third lives on dirt tracks throughout the country.
The Thunderbird was again redesigned in 1989, with a more modern, less flamboyant appearance. These cars quietly sold in the background of the automotive landscape until 1997, when the Thunderbird looked to fade off into obscurity.
As we were leaving the 1990s, people started to crave retro-styled, historical vehicles. In 1999, Ford revealed a new two-seat T-Bird concept car at the North American International Auto Show that made it seem like they never added those back seats in 1958. It was as if the T-Bird continued on the same path as it had in 1955, ’56, and ’57, skipping every generation and iteration of T-Bird in between.
Objectively, these cars were very nice. They had beautiful leather interiors. They had great details and jewelry. They came in some of the best color combinations of anything built in the last 20+ years.
The Thunderbird was quietly discontinued in 2005 for the last time. But that doesn’t mean that they still don’t hold a place in the hearts of the American people. The early cars are still bringing big money at auctions. The last cars are starting to turn up at the local car cruises. Every Thunderbird served a purpose in its day, and they all have special meaning to someone.
It was extraordinarily hot Saturday for this show, and it had to impact the number of nut-burgers willing to show up with their cars. The die-hards that were there huddled under a couple of tents to soak up that limited, precious shade. Glad they did, though, because there were some neat cars to check out.
Check out the slideshow below for more pictures of the beautiful cars that the VTKC had on display at Thoroughbred Ford. And if you own or love Thunderbirds, and want to get together with like-minded people, check out the Vintage Thunderbirds of Kansas City website.