Automotive Mileposts  
Production Numbers
Thunderbird hood ornament TOTAL PRODUCTION: 52,935
INTRODUCTION DATE: October 3, 1975
Body Style Code: 65K - 2-Door Hardtop
VIN/Body Serial Code: 87

Last Day of Production: July 9, 1976

Creme and Gold Luxury Group: (Researching)
Bordeaux Luxury Group: (Researching)
Lipstick Luxury Group: 768

Code A 460 Cubic Inch 4V V-8

Code U XPL Automatic (C6, 3-Speed)
Code Z XPL Automatic (Special, 3-Speed)

Code K 2.75:1 Limited Slip  Code 2 Conventional
Code L 2.79:1 Limited Slip  Code 3 Conventional
Code M 3.18:1 Limited Slip  Code 4 Conventional
Code M 3.40:1 Limited Slip  Code 4 Conventional
Code N 3.07:1 Limited Slip  Code 5 Conventional
Code O 3.00:1 Limited Slip  Code 6 Conventional
Code P 3.40:1 Limited Slip  Code 7 Conventional
Code R 3.25:1 Limited Slip  Code 9 Conventional

Some of the codes/ratios listed above may not have been used on Thunderbirds, but the information available does not indicate they were not. We will continue to investigate and update in the future.
WHEELBASE: 120.4 Inches

Length: 225.7 Inches
Height: 52.8 Inches
Width: 79.7 Inches
Weight: 4,808 Pounds

The End of An Era

Eras are only eras, they aren't the end of time. But the end of the line was finally upon the Thunderbird in 1976. Time had run out for large, heavy luxury cars. Consumers purchasing personal luxury transportation in the late 1970's wanted more efficient cars. Efficient in fuel use, space utilization, and maintenance requirements. The Thunderbird was not able to meet these demands in the 1972-1976 package, so it would have to evolve once again into the car everyone would love to own.

1958 Ford Thunderbird HardtopLEFT: 1958 Thunderbird Hardtop
This would not be the first time change had been required, nor would it be the last. But never again would the Thunderbird represent what it had from 1958-1976. These cars were all different. But they met the need for luxury personal transportation as no other car could during this time. Each Thunderbird was unique, yet retained the basic qualities that captured the attention and the imagination of all who saw it, and the Thunderbird became an icon, a symbol of the good life. Few other automobiles can attest to that, and no other automobile has a more dedicated customer base. No ordinary car turns heads like a Thunderbird.

Over the years, Ford used many clever advertising tag lines to promote the car. Was the Thunderbird America's most wanted car? Was it really the car everyone would love to own? Was it truly unique in all the world? Did the private world of Thunderbird really exist? The Thunderbird became America's personal luxury car. In a bold move it presented personal luxury car buyers with four doors to the good life. Three door and five door Birds came along when the sunroof was offered once again as an option to give occupants that "wide open spaces" feeling. And it grew, to satisfy the demand for large cars that were in vogue at the time.

1963 Ford Thunderbird LandauLEFT: 1963 Thunderbird Landau
Change was a part of the Thunderbird's personality, yet at the same time, it remained true to the traits that sparked a fire within its owners. People who discovered over the years that other cars you drive...this one you Thunderbird! It's a special feeling that only Thunderbird drivers know. Many competitors have challenged the T-Bird over the years, and most of them are gone now. And even when the competitors were at their peak, Ford almost always still sold more Thunderbirds. Why? What is it about this automobile that makes it so special? Why do people restoring these cars today spend hour after hour on the smallest detail, making sure every single part they use is correct?

Perhaps it's the feeling of pride they have behind the wheel, the admiring glances of passersby - the knowledge that many of them would love to trade places, if only for a few minutes, so they too could understand what it's like to drive a Thunderbird. Maybe it's the comfort of knowing they have an investment that won't depreciate every year. The chances of seeing another just like yours are remote. Few SUV drivers have that satisfaction. Of course what Thunderbirds say about their drivers is obvious: they are unique, they are just a bit more discerning, they're uncommon. And they recognize a good thing when they see it. They know that time does not diminish Thunderbird's spell, for the Thunderbird is timeless, a classic in its own time.
1965 Ford Thunderbird Landau
RIGHT: 1965 Thunderbird Landau
Thunderbird drivers know that roads straighten, hills flatten, and hours spent behind the wheel are fond ones to cherish for many years. It only happens this way in a Thunderbird. Take a look at the pictures on this page. You will see a different look to each model, for they are all different, yet they are all the same. They are all expressions of the people who worked tirelessly to design a modern classic. To build an automobile that copied nothing from any other. And to know the satisfaction of creating a masterpiece that has changed the way people look at the cars they drive forever.

Fortunately for collectors today, the Thunderbird over the years shared many parts with other Ford Motor Company products. This has made restoration and maintenance much easier. Much of the credit must go to the enormously popular Ford Mustang, but the fact that many suspension, engine, transmission, and drive line components were shared with other Fords has driven the after market parts industry to continue to provide items they might not have otherwise kept in their product line. Reproductions of interior trim, door panels, carpeting, and other soft trim items that are susceptible to damage from exposure are also readily available, although the level of quality can be sketchy.

1968 Ford Thunderbird Fordor LandauLEFT: 1968 Thunderbird Fordor Landau
The Thunderbird has evolved over the years, with each new model retaining something from the previous ones. And each model in turn has left something special to remember it by. Try to pick a favorite year. Does any one year really stand out from the rest? No. Each is special, each is unique in its own way. And each and every one of them are admired and loved by the owners who work so diligently to keep the legend alive. Can a mere car generate such loyalty and dedication? Not all of them can, but Thunderbirds do.

What other car inspired and motivated the motoring public as the two passenger Thunderbird? This attraction grew even stronger as the car itself grew to accommodate two more passengers. And when that was no longer adequate, sheer inspiration on the part of the Ford designers created the first four door personal luxury car in 1967 with the Fordor Landau, a model surely ahead of its time.

Thunderbird people understand that there is more to these cars than transportation. They are works of art. They deserve to be preserved and maintained. Compare them to a landmark historic building. Both have many things in common. Both were designed by artists who had to answer to the demands of functionality, while being alert to the creative process. Both provide a means of shelter from the elements, and serve mankind. And just as a painting is a reflection of the artist, the T-Bird is a reflection of all who have worked so hard all these years to keep the legend alive.

1970 Ford Thunderbird Two Door LandauRIGHT: 1970 Thunderbird Two Door Landau
You may have your favorites, and you may wish Ford had done a few things differently over the years. Maybe if the little two seater Birds had been allowed to fly a little longer, or perhaps the Sports Roadsters would have caught on had they been given more time. The Thunderbird Convertible was such a glamorous car with the top down, how could it have been discontinued? And why in the world would a company that created such a special car in 1955 turn it into a four door sedan in 1967. The Thunderbird grew over the years. It became big in a time when bigger was better, and now it must go through change again in order to survive. To continue the tradition.

In the future, Automotive Mileposts will cover the Thunderbirds not included in this phase of the Web site. But for now, we must continue to tell the story of the personal luxury car. No one can truly understand this story without all of the information, and that is what we intend to provide. [Editor's note: The 1977-1979 Ford Thunderbirds were published in 2009 as part of Phase Two of the site.]

If you've been with us from the start, we hope that you've learned a few new things along the way. We will, of course, continue to update and add new information to what we currently provide. Photos will also be changed from time to time, and we have many ideas for new features that will expand your horizons. So please come back again often. We are so very happy to entertain and inform you.

1972 Ford Thunderbird
Above: 1972 Thunderbird—first year of what would be the biggest T-birds ever
Roads are never quite the same once Thunderbird comes their way. Miles seem all too brief when behind the wheel...and it happens this way only in a Thunderbird. There is no equivalent.
Automotive Mileposts
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Classic Thunderbirds

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