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History - T-Bird Mileposts (The Sixties)
The Sixties
Ford Thunderbird 1961-1969 Timeline

with Advertising Taglines, News Events, and Trivia
(Position cursor on photo for description)

1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969

The Fifties | The Seventies
1961 Select Another Year
Unmistakably New, Unmistakably Thunderbird

President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his "Farewell Address To The Nation" on January 17, 1961; Roger Maris hit his 61st homer of the Season at half-empty Yankee Stadium, with only 23,154 fans present to watch. "West Side Story" won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Maximilian Schell won Best Actor in "Judgement At Nuremberg," and Sophia Loren won Best Actress for "Two Women." A specially-painted Gold 1961 Thunderbird Convertible served as the Official Pace Car [opens in new window] of the Indianapolis 500 Race.

Rock Hudson, Doris Day, and Tony Randall starred in "Lover Come Back", the second of three movies the trio made together. It was a huge hit, and a young Ann B. Davis, who would later portray Alice on TV's "The Brady Bunch" had a supporting role.
1961 Thunderbird Convertible

1961 Ford Thunderbird Power-Lift Windows
Swing-Away Steering Wheel option introduced
Thunderbird 390 Special V-8 engine introduced
Standard power steering, power brakes, back-up lamps,
  glove and luggage compartment lights, and
  Cruise-O-Matic transmission
Full Wheel Covers standardized
Electric Windshield Wipers
Foot-operated parking brake release with warning light
Optional AM Radio is fully transistorized
First use of PCV system (California delivery only)
1962 Select Another Year
Four New Thunderbirds

On January 17, 1962 television quiz show contestant Charles Van Doren and others were convicted in New York of game show fixing; President John F. Kennedy learns of Soviet missile deployments in Cuba on October 16, 1962, and demands their removal. The United States and Russia were on the brink of thermonuclear war before Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles on October 28, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1962 Thunderbird Sports Roadster

1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster in Rangoon Red
Landau and Sports Roadster [opens in new window]
  models introduced
Thunderbird 390 High Performance Sports
  V-8 engine option
Kelsey-Hayes Wire Wheel option (standard on
  Sports Roadster)

Swing-Away Steering Wheel added to standard
  equipment list early in production
Instrument and door trim panels revised in April 1962
  to achieve a better fit where they meet. The new design is
  NOT interchangeable with the previous parts
1963Select Another Year
Unique In All the World

On April 6, 1963, Skeeter Davis started a 4 week stay at the number one position on the Top 30 Radio charts with "The End Of The World", which kept Andy Williams' "Can't Get Used To Losing You" from rising above the number three position on the charts. On Friday, November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas during a motorcade. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the killing. Oswald was shot and killed at the Dallas City Jail garage by nightclub owner Jack Ruby 2 days after Kennedy's assassination, and was never brought to trial.
1963 Ford Thunderbird Landau

Swing-Away Steering Wheel

1963 Ford Thunderbird AM-FM Radio
Simulated Walnut woodgrain introduced on steering
  wheel, console, instrument panel, door and rear
  quarter trim panels, and seat back emblems on
  Landau models
Dark Blue and Dark Brown vinyl roof colors
Deluxe Wheel Cover with Simulated Knock-Off
  Spinner option
Automatic Door Lock option
AM Radio standardized
MagicAire Heater-Defroster standardized
Hydraulic Windshield Wipers
AM-FM Radio option
Rear Seat Speaker option
Sports Roadster and Sports V-8 engine option quietly
  discontinued mid-year
Limited Edition Landau [opens in new window]
  debuts February, 1963 (2,000 built)
Exterior hood release
Remote Control Left Exterior Rear View Mirror
Hand release parking brake
Courtesy lights in door trim panels
Tachometer option
Alternator introduced as standard (testing began on
  some late 1962 models)

Optional SelectAire Conditioner vent regulator
  featured new toggle controls
StudioSonic Sound System option
1964 Select Another Year
So Different...So Beautifully Different!

The 1964 Fall television schedule featured several popular new shows, among them "Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea," airing on ABC Monday nights at 8:00; "Shindig!" was also on ABC at 8:30 on Wednesday nights; NBC offered "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." at 8:30 on Tuesday night; and two ghoulish families appeared for the first time: "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters," both of which put the Ward Cleaver's in a very separate class. If you were driving your new Thunderbird the week of May 2, 1964, chances are you heard Louis Armstrong's "Hello Dolly" on the radio. It was the number one song in the land that week, its first of three weeks at the top spot. Dean Martin closed out 1964 with his new chart debut "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You" on December 26, 1964.

1964 Ford Thunderbird coved rear seats

1964 Ford Thunderbird optional Sports Tonneau Cover and Sports Wire Wheels
Automatic Parking Brake Release
Coved Rear Seats with Center Fold-Down Armrest
Retractable Front Seat Belts with Reminder Light
  introduced as standard
Rear Seat Speaker option on Convertible
Windshield Washers standardized
Gauges for oil pressure, fuel level, engine
  temperature and ammeter
Front fender tip turn indicators
Reclining Passenger Seat option
Automatic Speed Control option
Crank operated vent windows introduced as standard
Silent-Flo Rear Ventilation System introduced
Safety-Convenience Control Panel option
Transistorized Ignition System option
Last year for Sports Tonneau Cover and Wire
  Wheel options
Courtesy lights no longer in door trim panels on
  Hardtop models only
Low profile tires
15 inch wheels (except Wire Wheels)
1965 Select Another Year
The Private World of Thunderbird

The number one box office hit of the year was "The Sound of Music," starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it won five of them for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Score, and Best Film Editing. "The Sound of Music" became the biggest box office hit of all time, surpassing "Gone With the Wind." Motown artists held two of the top five songs on the charts at radio station WTRY in Albany, New York. "Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops was number one, and The Supremes were at number five with "Back In My Arms Again" for the week ending June 11, 1965.
1965 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

1965 Ford Thunderbird Special Landau
Sequential Rear Turn Signals introduced as standard
Power Front Disc Brakes introduced as standard
Reversible keys introduced
Keyless Door Locking introduced
Special Landau [opens in new window] model
  introduced Spring, 1965 (4,500 built)
Power Antenna option
Remote Deck Lid Release option
Power Vent Window option
Rear Roof Bow Courtesy Light introduced as standard
  on Convertible model
AM/FM Radio pushbuttons can be set for either AM
  or FM stations for the first time
Headliner color-keyed to interior for first time
Courtesy lights in door trim panels return to Hardtop
  models as standard
Floor console trim has black finish on Hardtop and
  Convertible models
Final year Hardtop was most popular model
Switch added to "Fasten Seat Belts" light during
  production to extinguish light when driver's side
  retractable seat belt was pulled out
Whitewall Tires with Red Band option
1966 Select Another Year
America's Personal Luxury Car

ABC launched the biggest hit in its history in the Fall of 1966, with "Batman." Adam West and Burt Ward starred in this offbeat show as the "Caped Crusaders", protecting the fine citizens of Gotham City from fiendish criminals like Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and King Tut.

If one campy show was good for the ratings, two must be better. "The Green Hornet" also debuted, but lasted just one year. The Surveyor One Probe was launched on May 30, 1966, and landed on the Moon June 2, 1966. It was the first U.S. spacecraft to make a safe landing on the Moon, and its purpose was to obtain close-up images to determine if the terrain was suitable for manned landings in the future.

On the radio, Petula Clark was riding high on the charts with hits "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" and "My Love", and The Mamas and The Papas continued their popularity with "Words of Love" and "I Saw Her Again Last Night".
1966 Ford Thunderbird Overhead Safety-Convenience Control Panel for Town Hardtop and Town Landau models

1966 Ford Thunderbird center console
428 V-8 Engine option
390 Special V-8 receives horsepower increase
  to 315, up from 300 in 1965
AM Radio/StereoSonic Tape Player option
Highway Pilot Automatic Speed Control option
Full-width tail lamps with integral back-up lamps
Town Landau and Town Hardtop models
  introduced (Town Hardtop 1966 only)
Safety Warning Flasher standardized on all models
Overhead Safety-Convenience Control Panel
  standardized (Town models only)
Contoured Headliner (Town models only)
Chrome trim on wheel openings (1966 models only)
Convertible model discontinued at end of model year
Rear Seat Belts introduced as standard
Parchment and Sage Gold Levant Grain Vinyl Roof
  colors introduced (available in 1966 only)
6-Way Power Seat option
Grille-mounted Thunderbird emblem
Reclining Passenger Seat option mandatory with
  Leather trim option (1966 only)
Pleated and biscuit-design upholstery pattern
Timer added to "Fasten Seat Belts" light circuit
  during production to extinguish light automatically
First time for painted sheet metal below front bumper
1967 Select Another Year
Did You Know We Make a 4-Door Thunderbird?

The movie "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" was released in 1967. It starred the popular acting team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their ninth and final film together. Tracy, in poor health for several years, had to limit his work days to just a few hours at a time. He died of heart failure in his Hollywood Hills home on June 10, 1967—just three weeks after completing the filming of this movie. Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton (Hepburn's real-life niece) co-starred as an interracial couple wanting to marry, a very controversial topic in 1967.

Hollywood goddess Jayne Mansfield was killed in an automobile accident in Mississippi around 2:00 AM on June 29, 1967 on her way from Biloxi to New Orleans. Best remembered for her figure, on the set of one of her movies the chair reserved for her—in lieu of her name—simply said: "40-21-35½." She was the most publicized actress in the world in 1957, beating out Marilyn Monroe. Tony Randall once commented he preferred working with Jayne, because she was more professional than Marilyn.
1967 Thunderbird Hardtop with new concealed headlamps

1967 Ford Thunderbird Bucket Seats and Console

1967 Ford Thunderbird Tilt-Away Steering Wheel
Thunderbird Fordor Landau introduced
Concealed headlamps
Automatic Tilt-Away Steering Wheel introduced as
  standard (1967 only; optional 1968-1969)
Rolling Power Door Lock option
AM-FM Stereo Multiplex System option
Dual Brake System with warning light
Unipane Side Windows introduced as standard
Articulated Accelerator Pedal introduced as standard
First year for in-dash glove compartment since 1960
Lane changing turn signal indicators introduced as
Final year for standard fold-down rear center armrest
Final year for contoured headliner (2-door models)
Door pull assist straps introduced as standard
  (1967 only)
Return to coil spring rear suspension
Return to body on frame construction
Final year for deluxe color-keyed seat belts as standard
  (Black buckles/webbing standard in 1968)
Front seat belts incorporated into bucket seat frame
One rear vent used in Comfort Stream ventilation system
  instead of the two used previously
1968 Select Another Year
New Thunder From the Bird

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., 39, was assassinated on the balcony of a motel in Memphis on April 3, 1968; Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968. Fearing for the safety of her children, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis on October 20, 1968, and moved to an island near Greece.
1968 Ford Thunderbird Tudor Hardtop

1968 Ford Thunderbird Full-Width Front Seat
Full-Width Front Seat introduced as standard
Front side marker lights and rear reflectors
  introduced as standard, lights added to rear
  markers on January 1, 1968
Shoulder Belts for front seat outboard passengers
  (on January 1, 1968)
AM-FM Stereo Radio option
SelectAire Conditioner with Automatic Climate
  Control option
Rear Window Defogger option
Automatic Tape Eject and radio station push button
  presets introduced to StereoSonic Sound
  System option
High Level Rear Stop Lamp option
Rear Lamp Monitor option
Cayman Grain vinyl roof introduced on Landau
  models (Alligator grain)
Front Cornering Lamp option
Final year for 390 Special V-8 engine (early
  production only, only a couple built)

Thunder Jet 429 V-8 engine option introduced (made
  standard on January 1, 1968)

Dark Green Cayman Grain Vinyl Roof color introduced
Exterior Remote Rear View Mirror head enlarged
Sequential instrument panel turn indicator (early
  production only)

Remote control driver's rear view mirror enlarged from 1967
Final year for Aqua-colored interior trim
First year for VIN tag riveted to instrument panel
First year for factory Radial-Ply Tire option
1969 Select Another Year
3-Door and 5-Door Birds for 1969

This was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. On July 20, 1969, Astronaut Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the Moon. His famous statement, "That's one small step, one giant leap for mankind" was not actually what he said. Because of static, that's what the world heard, but he actually said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

Bethel, New York was the host of Woodstock, an outdoor concert that attracted 500,000 people, and caused a traffic jam up to 20 miles long. The concert ran August 15-17, 1969. "Midnight Cowboy" won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The X-Rated movie starred Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, and dealt with topics never before addressed in a motion picture.

On September 2, 1969 a group of students and a professor at UCLA in an engineering lab linked two computers together, creating the first network. Today, it's known as the Internet.
1969 Ford Thunderbird Concealed Headlamps
Ever seen a Bird wink?
Mouse over photo above.

1969 Ford Thunderbird Tudor Landau with factory power sunroof
Sure Track Brake System option (introduced mid-year)
Interval Windshield Wipers introduced
  (very rare option)
Electric Power Sunroof option for Tudor and Fordor
  Landau models
Electric Defrost Rear Window option
Thunderbird emblem added to Rear Side Marker Light
Transistorized Turn Signal Sequencer introduced as
  standard (mid-year)
Last year for concealed headlamps
Last year for optional front bucket seats and console
  in Fordor models (Brougham option required)
Last year for Whitewall Tires with Red Band option
Internal spring in headlamp door motor raises doors
  automatically if vacuum system fails
1969 only year in classic era to not have "Thunderbird"
  script appear on exterior body or interior of car
Front seat headrests become mandatory standard
  item (January 1, 1969)
Dark Brown Vinyl Roof color re-introduced late in year
Color-Keyed Simulated Styled Steel Wheel Covers
  (available in five colors) (1969 only)
Front Cornering Lamps standardized early in production
Interior door lock plungers on 2-door models moved
  forward for easier access from front seat
Optional Power Seat controls relocated higher on seat
  side shield (Production change on 3/17/69)
Door pulls/power window control panels in armrests
  made wider on late production units
Oil pressure gauge normal band was offset to high side
  of gauge, instead of being centered
Front seat belts moved back to floor mounting position
First year for lights on warning light and buzzer in
  Convenience Check Panel
Front and rear door arm rests modified during production
  (From December 15, 1968 new C9SZ parts used)
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