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The Ford Thunderbird was introduced to the American publics at the 1954 Detriot Motor Show. A two door roadster to compete against the European Sports cars that had proved popular with American Servicemen returning home.
Although a roadster the car came with a detachable hard and was available in five colours: blue, black, white, yellow and red with matching vinyl upholstery. The 1956 model was similar to the 1955 but had the distinctive portholes in the hardtop and the spare was placed at the rear of the car. 1957 saw the spare returned to the trunck and the rear of the car was re-styled yet again.
Ford introduced the four seater Thunderbird in February 1958 and was an instant success. The new Thunderbird was two feet longer. The car was completely different both externally and internally from earlier models. There were now 12 single colour options and 34 two-tone colour options.
The 1959 convertible model now came with an automatic top. In 1960 it was the roof in the news again with the introduction of a manually operated sliding sunroof. Thunderbird news in 1960 focused on the available sliding sunroof in the hardtop, which was operated manually. The colour choices increased even further with 19 single colours and 28 two-tone colours.
The 1961 underwent a major change with more rounded styling. A new range of engines was offered. There was a standard 300 bhp. In the Thunderbird Special was a 375 bhp engine and in the 3-Carb Thunderbird Special was a 401 bhp version.
The big news for 1962 was the addition of a hardtop called the Landau and a special convertible called the Sports Roadster. The Sports Roadster has a tonneau cover which effectively turned the car into a two passenger roadster when in use. 1963 saw only minor changes as Ford prepared for a new generation of Thunderbird.
The new Thunderbird of 1964 had a longer hood and shorter roof. The interior was completely restyled with ‘Flight-Deck’ instrument with instruments mounted in separate pods and illuminated by a green light.
1965 saw the introduction of disc brakes and a few minor cosmetic changes. The 1966 model is easily distinguishable by a single rear taillight that stretches across the width of the car. An eight-track stereo was also made available for the first time.
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