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1964 Ford Thunderbird
Golden Palomino Show Car

Roof panels flipped up and out of the way to provide more room

Image: 1964 Ford Thunderbird Golden Palomino Show CarIn order to promote the new 1964 Ford Thunderbird styling, Ford created the Golden Palomino Show Car to tour the auto show circuit in 1964. Beginning with a production Landau model, the Golden Palomino was fitted with a vinyl half-roof in dark brown over the rear section of the roof, and included two roof "flipper" panels over each front bucket seat. The "flipper" roof design was one that Ford Styling had suggested for some time, and it had appeared on prototype vehicles from 1958-1964, although it was never seriously considered as a production feature due to its complexity and cost.

The thought behind the "flipper" roof was that it would give the Thunderbird a unique roof treatment, as well as provide greater entry and exit room. A better solution that was just as unique (and less expensive) came for 1961 with the introduction of the Swing-Away Steering Wheel.

The "flipper" roof panel first appeared on a sketch by Bill Boyer, dated November 11, 1955 for the Thunderbird 195H project. From that point on, the unique roof design would be submitted on various proposals for years, almost like the idea that just refused go away. Did anyone ever say they didn't have a sense of humor in Ford Styling?

The Golden Palomino was finished in a metallic golden brown shade, somewhat similar to the Prairie Tan color offered during the first half of the 1964 Thunderbird production run. The interior featured custom appointments in a Medium Palomino shade.

Flashy Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels with knock-off spinners and rear fender shields were fitted to the show car, something that wasn't even offered to typical Thunderbird customers of the time due to clearance issues with the spinners and fender shields.

The Golden Palomino was intended to increase interest in the Thunderbird, as well as evaluate public reaction to certain designs and features being considered for future production cars. The Golden Palomino was a big hit at custom car shows around the country, and also appeared in dealer showrooms.

Unlike some of the show cars created for 1964, the Golden Palomino was completely road worthy and fully functional. The 1964 Lincoln Continental Town Brougham Show Car, which was also designed to serve duty at shows around the country, was cobbled and not designed to be driven. While the Town Brougham could move under its own power, it was recommended that this be done very carefully, and at low speeds.