Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Custom '63 Thunderbird

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The Ford Thunderbird was a brilliantly forward-thinking concept. Launched in 1955, it repackaged the de rigueur formula of two-seater/V8/convertible as a 'personal car' rather than an overt sporting model like the Corvette. As such, it offered GT-like handling and luxurious appointments along with robust firepower; too small to be a luxury car, too big and loose to be a sports car, it was a trailblazer of a new niche genre that paved the way for the Lincoln Continental, Chrysler New Yorker and Cadillac Eldorado.
By the time it had reached its third evolutionary generation, built from 1961-3, the Thunderbird had become a larger four-seater with a face like an angry shark. It was an Indy 500 pace car and a key player in JFK's motorcades - a very visible and thus very popular model. The only engine option was the 390ci (6.4-litre) FE-series V8, although in '63 you could bolster it with the 'tri-power' upgrade, with three two-barrel carbs on a higher-compression engine. The third-gen T-Bird was big, brash, swanky and opulent; dripping in chrome and very much of its era.

I can't tell you much about this particular one, other than that it's jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Although you'd probably deduced that yourself. It's a 1963 model, customised in California, running air-ride to provide that ground-bothering stance. Its acid green paintwork makes it look like it was deposited in the Cali desert by a passing UFO, and it's pretty much the epitome of custom T-Bird perfection. Throw a bit of subtle lace paint on the roof and some super-faint ghosted scallops on the sides and drop it off at my place...

Spotted at Wheels Day 2015 - more photos here.

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