A recent visit home saw me rifling through hundreds and hundreds of old family photographs. Pictures of vacations and Christmases and family and friends and beloved pets and bad haircuts and worse clothing had my little sister and I laughing and reminiscing. Equally interesting were some of the old photographs my father had taken of his various automotive projects and treasures. The best find was a series of shots of his restoration of a true classic, a 1960's Ford Thunderbird!
I remember hearing about this car, but was too young to remember it when he restored it. I had no idea from what condition he had started, but I can see by the pictures that some major work took place to get it back into showroom condition. Unfortunately I do not recall any of the details of the car, but checking online I found out that it was a third-generation model, made from 1961 to 1963. This long and sleek convertible was painted a rich shade of red and had a white folding top and matching white interior with red accents.
According to the pictures it was clearly a very thorough restoration. The drivetrain was out of the car at some point, and the rear quarter panels saw some serious patching. My dad always enjoyed sanding an old car; he would spend hours going over the curves and creases to get them perfectly smooth, and the beautiful finish suggests that he took the same pleasure with this Thunderbird. He seems to have taken alot of pride in this project, as I don't recall ever seeing so many pictures of one of his restorations. As a matter of fact, I'm a little miffed to see that there are more of this car than there are of my science fair projects and kindergarden macaroni artwork...
The interior and roof were obviously completely revamped as well, because the end result looks nothing like the starting state! The 1961 to 1963 Thunderbird convertible really is a legendary car. It carried on some of the traits of the original model, but stretched and streamlined the lines. One of the most interesting features was the famous tonneau cover; these fiberglass panels sat over the rear seats and created a 2-seater feel and look. As with most cars of the era, the engine was a V8 and the transmission was a stout 3-speed automatic. The T-Bird was more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car, and I think that it really had the look to fit the role.
Over the years I remember my dad talking fondly of his red Thunderbird, and I am so happy not only to see pictures of it, but to be able to share it with other automotive fans that can appreciate such a wonderful restoration!