Automotive Mileposts Home  

1970 Ford Thunderbird
Tridon Show Car

Skylight panel was inspiration for later production roof design

Image: 1970 Ford Thunderbird Tridon Show Car

The 1970 Ford Thunderbird Tridon Show Car got its name from its tri-element design, and was based on a production 1970 Thunderbird Two Door Hardtop. This was the third year in a row for a concept car design based on the Thunderbird, and this one was way out there! The new production Sportsroof design was already a racy design, and the Tridon used the sloping rear roof structure to full advantage. Over the years, Ford stylists were always trying to do something unique with the Thunderbird's roof. For years, flipper panels were part of styling sketches, but were never seriously considered for production due to cost and complexity. Nevertheless, year after year they kept appearing in styling sketches for the Thunderbird. A bit of uniqueness came for 1960 with the Sun Roof Hardtop option, but that only lasted one year. A 1964 Thunderbird Golden Palomino Show Car included flipper panels in the roof, but this may have been done more to appease the designers, as the design still wasn't a serious contender for production. The Power Sunroof option was offered for the 1969 model year, and would continue to be offered going forward.

1970 Ford Thunderbird Tridon Show CarStill, designers longed for something on the roof that would make the Thunderbird stand out. The 1970 Tridon may have finally been a step in the right direction for a unique roof feature for the Thunderbird that could actually go into production. The Tridon featured a tinted skylight roof strip panel that stretched across the roof of the car from one side to the other. Located behind the rear quarter windows, the panels gave rear seat passengers a clear view overhead.

The Tridon also included a small recessed rear window and fully-enclosed rear wheels. Up front, a three-piece nosepiece featured a very prominent center section that jutted out in front, much like the production Thunderbirds of the time, but more dramatic. Concealed headlights were hidden behind grilles that featured five horizontal chrome bars against a blacked-out background. The grilles were separated by the center section of the nose, and front parking and turn signals were tucked in each outboard end of the grilles. Engine cooling slots ran horizontally below each grille, and between the grille and cooling slots was a thin black rubber rub strip, which ran from end to end.

The front and rear bumpers and front nosepiece assembly were made of a plastic material that was designed to absorb minor impacts and bounce back into position, without damage to the car. All glass on the Tridon was tinted in an amber shade, to complement the interior and exterior finishes.

The exterior was finished in a color called Moongold Mist, a creamy yellow that had a pearlescent effect to it. Inside, the interior was upholstered in a ginger-colored synthetic lambs wool. High back front bucket seats were separated by a full-length center console.

It is said that the wrap-over roof panel was the inspiration for the Brushed Aluminum Wrapover Tiara and Opera Window roof design included as part of the popular 1977-1979 Thunderbird Town Landau models. Check it out, the similarity is uncanny! We guess the stylists finally got their way.