Automotive Mileposts  
1973 Thunderbird
Production Numbers
Thunderbird script
INTRODUCTION DATE: September 22, 1972
$5,577.00 Before June 11, 1973
$6,414.00 From June 11, 1973*
Body Style Code: 65K - 2-Door Hardtop
VIN/Body Serial Code: 87
Thunderbird Opera Window
Thunderbird Opera Window
*Note: On June 11, 1973, the following items were added as standard equipment to all Thunderbirds: Vinyl Roof, Opera Windows, Power Side Windows, SelectAire Conditioner, Tinted Glass, and Automatic Seat Back Release. The addition of these items as standard resulted in the $837 price increase.



429 Cubic Inch V-8 Engine (Net Horsepower 201)
4-Barrel Motorcraft Carburetor/Single Exhaust System (25,046 built—28.7%)

460 Cubic Inch V-8 Engine (Net Horsepower 219)
4-Barrel Motorcraft Carburetor/Single Exhaust System (62,223 built—71.3%)

SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic (Automatic, 3-Speed)
SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic (Automatic, 3-Speed Special)

2.75:1 Traction Lok
3.00:1 Traction Lok
3.25:1 Traction Lok
The Elusive Standard 1973 Thunderbird

Exterior view of 1973 Thunderbird without vinyl roof or opera windowsThunderbirds have always been well-equipped cars. From the very beginning, Ford added new features to the cars, and updated standard equipment based on customer orders. For instance, in 1961, Ford added automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and backup lights to the standard features on all Thunderbirds. This was based on customer orders from previous years. It just didn't make since to provide manual transmissions when 98 percent of the customer orders for Thunderbirds in 1960 were for cars with automatics. Same for power steering (97 percent), and power brakes (89 percent). The Swing-Away Steering Wheel, optional in 1961, was made standard early in the 1962 production year because 77 percent of the 1961 models sold had it. In 1963, an AM radio and the heater-defroster were made standard, again because most Thunderbird customers wanted these items.

Over the years, the standard equipment list grew, although a few items were added, then deleted. In 1965, rear fender shields appear to have been standard for a period of time, but they became optional again during the year and continued to be an option in 1966. The Safety-Convenience Control Panel was standard in the Town models for 1966, but optional in 1967. Front cornering lamps made a brief appearance as a standard equipment item in 1970-1971, but became optional in 1972.

By 1973, the Thunderbird was recognized as one of the top prestige cars available, and although well equipped in standard form compared to other cars, most T-birds were ordered with a long list of luxury options and creature comforts to satisfy the desires of their owners. It is rare to find a "standard" or "base model" 1973 Thunderbird, due to the heavy options most of these cars were ordered with. You just don't commonly see 1973 Thunderbirds without vinyl roofs, Opera windows, power windows, power seat, stereo, etc.

View of 1973 Thunderbird interior not equipped with optional opera windows and power windowsHere's an interior picture of an early production '73 T-Bird without opera windows or power windows, two items that became standard features during the production run. Notice that no provision was made for the rear seat reading lights/courtesy lights, either. Outside, a Thunderbird emblem was placed on the roof quarter, down low and somewhat offset forward on the panel instead of centered.

1973 would place third in production numbers to date, making this model year one of the most popular in Thunderbird's history. Unknown to most at the time, cars of this size and weight were about to become outdated, as fuel shortages and the soaring cost of fuel due to the shortages, would make them quite expensive to operate. This body style would continue on through 1976, with changes between the years becoming a bit difficult to spot, but we'll show you how to spot those differences.

In the 1973 Thunderbird sales catalog, Ford stated "...we believe the 1973 Thunderbird to be the finest ever built." At the time, it was certainly one of the most distinctive, and one of the most popular cars on the road. Ford was right when it said: Thunderbird '73. Still unique in all the world.

"" "" ""