Friday, June 21, 2013

Santa Cruz Street Sighting - 1967 Ford Thunderbird Fordor Landau

In the late 1960s, the large personal luxury car made up a popular segment of the new-car market. Mercedes would have you believe that they invented the four-door luxury sports coupe niche in 2004 with their CLS. What does that make this 1967 Ford Thunderbird, then? The Thunderbird was primarily known as a luxury coupe with sporting pretensions, or at least a big plush car with an enormous engine. It would propel you down the road nicely, and into the ditch at the first hard corner. Let's face it, this is not a sports car. It's a luxury cruiser that twelve years earlier had been a sports car with two doors and two seats. The 1967 T-Bird was a body-on-frame car with formal, yet dramatic styling. It was available as a coupe or a sedan with rear suicide doors and a thick C-pillar exaggerated by very small windows and an unusual shape of the window frame, so that the fake landau bars actually follow the shut line of the door. The four-door accounted for 24,967 sales in 1967, nearly one-third of all T-Birds that year.

I've personally always thought this generation of T-Bird was a styling disaster. The sedan in particular is an unusual look. The fighter-jet-intake grille and hidden headlights have an aggressive appearance, let down by a clumsy midsection. These cars have frameless windows for the most part, but it's a pillared sedan rather than a true four-door hardtop like the contemporary Lincoln Continental. I think the Thunderbird would have made a more convincing "four-door coupe" without a bright chrome B-pillar calling attention to the short doors. The T-Bird got a new front end with a pointed "beak" in 1970, and an optional fastback body style. I'd be interested to see someone build a phantom 1970 Thunderbird Sportsroof with 1967 front end sheetmetal.

This one is in great condition and hails from Oregon. If you're familiar with the blog OldParkedCars, you know that Oregon has a great many old and interesting cars in it. I'm guessing it's restored or at least well-kept, and the paint job looks like an approximation of Charcoal Gray metallic. The beauty of a car like this is that it would make road trips a breeze. Huge trunk, smooth and quiet ride, lots of interior space and privacy for rear-seat passengers if they really want it. Just make sure you budget enough money and time for gas stops to keep that big 390 fed. This is one of those cars I don't care much for and would never own, but I'm happy that someone out there loves and enjoys it. I believe that every model should be preserved in some quantity if possible for historical purposes. If owners get actual use and fun out of a relatively obscure car, that's even better.

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