Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thunderbirds Are Go

The 1961 T-Bird was the third generation and the design departed quite a bit from the original Baby Bird (1955-57) and the Square Bird (1958-60). The projectile front and sleek styling earned the '61 model the moniker "Bullet Bird". 73,051 units were sold in 1961, not sure how many are left. I acquired mine locally but I think it originally hailed from Indiana.

For a car that is about to turn 50, it drives and handles remarkably well. No airbags, anti-lock brakes, or stability control here. The 390 purrs but I doubt if it still generates 300 hp. The 3 speed works great, shifts nicely. The A/C blows cold - imperative in Texas. No original radio but a nice working model is hidden in the trunk.

It has a few items I wish newer cars have: (1) the gas cap is in the middle (over the license plate, hidden in the bumper), which makes it easy when pulling in for gas - you never have to worry which side the cap is on (2) side vent windows - great for air circulation, and (3) the swing-away steering - so easy for the driver to get in and out - just move the steering to the right.

The Swing Away Steering in Action

The '61 Bird is my fourth Ford and maybe my favorite. However, the '72 Mustang was great to drive with top down on a crisp Fall day in Connecticut (see pic on left). The 1998 F150 was a reliable workhorse and the 2005 Mercury Montego has all the modern creature comforts.

It is good to see FoMoCo doing well. The only one of the Big Three to not file for bankruptcy, the company has generated significant public goodwill which no doubt has boosted sales. The Fusion, 2010 Taurus and new Super Duty trucks are all great vehicles. The Mustang has given up some ground to the new Camaro, which I have to admit is a great looking car. For the second quarter 2010, Ford had net income of $2.6B on sales of $31B. Corporate America needs more leaders like Alan Mulally.

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