Star Wars fans: is this the reincarnation of the X-34 Landspeeder or what? OK, maybe this wasn’t the inspiration for George Lucas’s take on how ground transportation looked during the glory days of the Rebel Alliance but a ’64 Thunderbird convertible equipped with a back seat cover nacelle and wire wheels was, in its time, sci-fi you could drive. The idea to re-convert the T-bird into the two-seater it had been when launched in 1955 was carried out on ’62 and ’63 Thunderbird Sports Roadster. The option was not all that popular, no huge surprise in the wake of Thunderbird sales having rocketed skyward after the original two-seater was replaced in the big, four-place “Square Bird” in ’58. It featured a distinctive formal angular roof line which became a Thunderbird hallmark until the “jelly bean” shaped generation that came along in 1983.
The intergalactic glory of that ’64 is in sharp contrast to this sorrowful ’80 ‘bird that does little to disguise its very pedestrian Ford Fairlane underpinnings. “Real” Thunderbird people didn’t accept it as such despite all manner of zooty advertising and gratuitous badging.
The C-pillars were ultra-thick, in the absence of any rear side windows, on this ’66 coupe, captured by Feral Cars Field Scout Rip Masters. It’s comforting to recall that fender skirts made a comeback at that time
We encountered a flaming version of the same car. Classy, no?
Real T-bird elegance and grandeur is reflected in this sweet ’67 Thunderbird Landau Coupe. The vinyl roof and decorative “S” bar adorning the C-pillar gave notice that the sporty pretense of the original ‘birds had truly flown the coop.
These things have presence with a capital “P” and were also offered with four doors, the rear two of which opened out, “suicide” stye. Check out this one that was captured in the wilds of the Highland Park barrio in Dallas by Feral Cars Field Scout John McCollough. Please note what else is sharing a driveway with this rare non-vinyl topped four door, reputed to have been owned by alarmist radio newsman Red Alert. A Pucci-esque mod-style 1968 commercial heralds the new choices in Thunderbird body styles, though it neglects to mention that a convertible was no longer one of them.
The “S” bar connotes old world elegance and serves to break up the blank mass of the thick pillar aft of the back windows just as the “porthole” cutouts had in the ’56 and ’57 hardtops.
You really can’t get much more formal than this ’68 Landau “triple black” four-door sedan. Its massive front grill and covered headlights conjure up the look of the top end of an electric razor to some but don’t try shaving with one of these babies.
One of the most iconic eras of the big ‘birds ran from ’61 – 63; these “bullet ‘birds,” so designated because of the shape of their pointed front fenders, were extremely popular during the Kennedy era. Talk about a time of hope: you could buy your very own ground-to-ground air missile from your neighborhood Ford dealer!
We captured a massive ’70 Thunderbird “sport-back” rumbling through town. Some have criticized its neo-Pontiac styling but we thinks it’s an awesome sight, especially “in flight.”
Not quite as impressive is this ovoid mid-’90s Thunderbird LX equipped with a rear spoiler that does could double as a handrail for vertigo sufferers. Meh.
We close our paean to a car that seemed to be dealing with a succession of identity crises with another look a that ’64 that dropped in from Star Wars and the one that started the whole ‘bird craze: a very rough, but original, ’55 shot by Feral Cars Scout Andy Schwartz in bucolic Tannersville, NY.
And that dear readers is proof that “the ‘bird is the word.”
This ’64 Thunderbird convertible is for sale and we think it’s a great despite the fact that its back seat is visible. We think it’s just the thing to transport the wisest man in the universe and a “humanoid protocol droid” which we like to think of as a nattering robot. Set to the tune of Weird Al’s “Too White and Nerdy” is this video clip of a home-built X-34 Landspeeder replica.
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