Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1963 Ford Thunderbird

For those readers who cringed at the 1961 Thunderbird I featured last time, rejoice! Here's a beautiful 1963 T-Bird I found in sunny Santa Cruz. This car is nearly perfect and I'd wager it's been restored. For some reason I love 1963 Ford products in metallic beige. I have a diecast display model of a '63 Ford Galaxie 500XL painted this color, which I chose because it was subtle and elegant compared with the bright reds and blues of the time period. Mind you, I complain about modern beige cars but I don't see it as too much of a double standard. Modern cars are boring to start with and beige makes them even worse!














Back to the feature vehicle. This car is a really beautiful example, and unlike the other two Bullet Birds I've photographed, this one rolls on chrome Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels (a factory option) with knock-off hubcaps and thin whitewall tires. I've seen very few of these equipped this way and I really like the look. The tires are Sears branded, with the old logo from the early '80s, leading me to wonder just how old the rolling stock really is. One of the interesting details about the '63 T-Bird is the hockey-stick-shaped side rib that extends from the front fender point and curves down toward the rear of the door. Three decorative fake vents complete the accent. This is an interesting styling move given that it required re-tooling new fenders and doors for 1963 only, but I suppose it was a way of keeping the three-year-old design fresh without altering anything major (or expensive). The roof is another interesting styling touch, as it features a curious woodgrain-type texture instead of being smooth metal or padded vinyl. The decorative landau bars look a little silly, but they were a new feature for 1963 and would remain an option on Thunderbirds for several years. On this car the center of the bars incorporate a V-shaped aqua bird design encased in clear plastic that replaced the scaled-down version of the hood emblem that decorated the C-pillar on the 1961-62 cars. The large bird emblem on the hood lacks the bluish plastic insert found on the 1961 car but is otherwise identical. Virtually all I see missing on this T-Bird is the swiveling keyhole cover on the trunk lid (which should form the head of the bird on the rear badge). The left front wheel also needs a lug nut replaced. Other than that, it's perfect. This is a truly magnificent Bird and one of the best specimens of this generation I've found on the street.

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