Media in category "Ford Thunderbird in NASCAR". The following 61 files are in this category, out of 61 total. Built for NASCAR, this Thunderbird is a lone street survivor instead Most Ford racing enthusiasts know about the Pete De Paolo-modified. In , Nascar fans could go to a Ford dealership and buy a similarly styled, V8-powered Thunderbird with rear-wheel drive. That all changed in when.
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Hershey took the idea and began working on the vehicle. Crusoe saw a painted clay model on May 18, , which corresponded closely to the final car; he gave the car the go-ahead in September after comparing it with current European trends. The name was not among the thousands proposed, including rejected options such as Apache the original name of the P Mustang , Falcon owned by Chrysler at the time ,  Eagle, Tropicale, Hawaiian, and Thunderbolt.
It is considered a supernatural bird of power and strength. Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California, also lays claim to being the inspiration for the name of the car. According to it, Ernest Breech, a Thunderbird Country Club member who was then chairman of Ford Motor Company, was supposedly deeply involved in the creation of the Thunderbird. Breech, it is claimed, asked the Club's permission to use the name, which was granted. The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in February as a response to Chevrolet 's new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before.
It was a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fiber hardtop and a folding fabric top. It used mechanical components from mass-market Ford models. The Thunderbird's Though inspired by, and positioned directly against, the Corvette, Ford billed the Thunderbird as a "personal luxury car personal car", putting a greater emphasis on the car's comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness.
In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by more than to-one for with 16, Thunderbirds sold against Corvettes, and 2, Studebaker Speedsters. The most notable change was moving the spare tire to a continental-style rear bumper to make more storage room in the trunk and a new volt electrical system.
Among the few other changes were new paint colors, the addition of circular porthole windows as standard in the fiberglass roof to improve rearward visibility with a delete option , and a cu in 5. When in "Drive", it was a two-speed automatic transmission similar to Chevrolet's Powerglide. The low gear could also be accessed with wide open throttle. In , Ford also added its new Lifeguard safety package.
The Thunderbird was revised for with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The instrument panel was heavily restyled with round gauges in a single pod, and the rear of the car was lengthened, allowing the spare tire to be positioned back in the trunk.
Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21, units for , company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for Although the —57 Thunderbird was a success, Ford executives—particularly Robert McNamara —were concerned that the car's position as a two-seater limited its sales potential. As a result, the car was redesigned as a four-seater for The new Thunderbird began a sales momentum previously unseen with the car, selling , units in three years, four times the result of the two-seat model.
This success spawned a new market segment, the personal luxury car. It was offered in both hardtop and convertible body styles, although the latter was not introduced until June , five months after the release of the hardtop. The increased size also increased the car's weight by lb kg. Along with a new, more rigid unibody construction was new styling, including quad headlights, more prominent tailfins, a bolder chrome grille, and a larger, though nonfunctional, hood scoop. Powering the Thunderbird was a new, hp kW cu in 5.
In the model year in which the car was introduced, sales were 37, units, outselling the previous model year's 16, units. For , the car received a new grille and a newly optional, hp kW cu in 7. For , the Thunderbird was given another new grille and other minor styling changes along with a newly optional manually operated sunroof for hardtop models. Dual-unit round taillights from to were changed to triple-units after the fashion of the Chevrolet Impala. Sales increased again with 92, sold for The Thunderbird was redesigned for with styling that gave the car a unique bullet-like body side appearance.
A new engine, the cu in 6. It was rated at hp kW and was mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. The new Thunderbird was well received, with 73, sold for Kennedy 's inaugural parade, who appointed Ford executive Robert McNamara as secretary of defense. A vinyl-roofed Landau option with simulated S-bars was added to the Thunderbird for as was a Sports Roadster package for convertible models.
The Sports Roadster included spoke Kelsey-Hayes-designed wire wheels and a special fiberglass tonneau cover for the rear seats, which gave the car the appearance of a two-seat roadster like the original Thunderbird. The Sports Roadster package was slow-selling due to the high price of the package and complexity of the tonneau cover, resulting in few Thunderbirds being equipped with it. The M-Code version of the cu in 6. M-Code V8 Thunderbirds are exceptionally rare, with only being sold between and Few other changes were made to the Thunderbird for , as Ford prepared to introduce a new version for A horizontal styling line was added that ran from the point where the bumper and fender meet back through the door and angled down.
Small diagonal chrome bars were added in this area on the door. Alternators rather than generators were a new feature on all Thunderbirds. For , the Thunderbird was restyled in favor of a more squared-off appearance, which was mostly evident when viewing the car from the side or rear.
Hinting at its roots in the previous generation of Thunderbird from which it evolved, the new model retained a similar grille design with quad headlights and a As before, the new Thunderbird continued to be offered in hardtop, convertible, and Landau versions. The hp kW cu in 6. It was paired with a three-speed automatic transmission. For , sequential turn signals were added, flashing the individual segments of the broad, horizontal tail lights in sequences from inside to outside to indicate a turn.
Also new for were standard front disc brakes , and doubled-sided keys. Though it was the last year of the generation, had a stylistic revision for the Thunderbird highlighted by a new egg crate-style grille with a large Thunderbird emblem at its center and a single-blade front bumper. The rear bumper was restyled to include new full-width taillamps.
Engine choices were also revised for The standard cu in 6. Newly optional and taking the top position for performance was a hp kW cu in 7. The Thunderbird's fifth generation brought the second major change in the car's design direction since its debut in However, the introduction of the Ford Mustang in early had created a challenge to the Thunderbird's market positioning for it.
The Mustang had an advantage in that it was substantially cheaper. To prevent overlap between the two cars, Ford's response was to move the Thunderbird upmarket. The result, introduced for , was a larger Thunderbird with luxury appointments more in line with a Lincoln. The new Thunderbird abandoned unibody construction in favor of body-on-frame construction with sophisticated rubber mountings between the body and frame to reduce noise and vibration.
Two significant departures from the previous generation of the Thunderbird were the elimination of a convertible model and the addition of a four-door model, which used suicide doors for rear-seat access. The available four-door design remained a unique feature to this generation, as it was not carried on after One of the most noticeable design elements of the fifth-generation Thunderbird was the gaping, fighter jet-inspired grille opening that incorporated hidden headlights.
The Thunderbird continued with the same platform and many of the same parts and styling cues used in the to models, including the sequential turn signals incorporated into the full-width tail lamps. The most noticeable change was in the front fascia , where a large, prominent projection resembling a bird or eagle's beak was now used, in line with long, angular lines in the hood. Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen , a former GM executive now president of Ford, is said to be responsible for this dramatic change.
The T-bird was offered in coupe or sports-back models for these two years, the latter being a further distinction from the '67 to '69 models. In , Neiman Marcus offered "his and hers" Thunderbirds in its catalog, with telephones, tape recorders, and other features. The Thunderbird was mostly a carry-over from the model as Ford prepared to release a new, larger Thunderbird for It was also the last year to offer a four-door. The sixth generation of the Thunderbird debuted in the fall of as a model.
With a Matching the large size of the car were large engines, including a standard cu in 7. Though offering two of the largest displacement V8 engines ever installed in a production vehicle by Ford, the car's considerable weight combined with low power output caused by restrictive emissions technology resulted in modest performance.
As might also be expected from installing a large-displacement V8 in a heavy car, fuel efficiency was poor. The big Thunderbirds were popular, with sales peaking at over 87, units in in spite of the oil crisis , but sales had slumped to less than 43, by Finishing off the generation, sales had an uptick to almost 53, units for Acknowledging increasing fuel prices and more stringent federal emissions standards, a new, downsized Thunderbird was to appear for For the model year, the Thunderbird was shifted to the smaller inches 2, mm wheelbase chassis that underpinned the —76 Ford Torino and its replacement, the LTD II which also debuted for Even being nearly 8 inches shorter than the Thunderbird only 1.
It was not dramatically downsized, from In essence, this generation was a continuation of the — Ford Elite , Ford's first attempt at competing in the market created by the Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Compared to the previous-generation Thunderbird, the new car lost nearly 8 inches of overall length at The standard engine outside California was the cu in 4. In California, the was the standard engine, and the was optionally available. For the first time, a wide, fixed "B" pillar was used, reflecting Detroit's abandonment of pillarless hardtops in the mid- and late s.
However, the door window glass remained frameless. In , Ford offered the "Diamond Jubilee Edition" Thunderbird to commemorate the company's 75th year as an auto manufacturer. Naturally, it included every option available except for a moonroof and an engine block heater. A similar option package, called "Heritage", was available for Though this generation was the most successful in sales with over , examples produced in its three-year run,  Ford sought to downsize the Thunderbird further, due to fuel-efficiency and emissions concerns, leading to a redesign for For the model year, the cu in engine was no longer available.
Reflecting a further industry-wide adoption of smaller vehicle designs in the interest of improved fuel efficiency and emissions compliance, the Thunderbird was redesigned for on the compact Ford Fox platform , which first appeared only two years prior as the basis for the Ford Fairmont. Compared to the previous Torino-based Thunderbird and its large inches 2, mm wheelbase and The squarish styling seen in the previous generation of the Thunderbird was favored for the new model, but now using a smaller car platform.
Frameless door glass was no longer used; a chrome metal frame was used, instead, making the car look more like a two-door sedan. Combined with the poor-performing 4. The available cu in 4. Significantly, though failing to generate any new interest for the Thunderbird, a six-cylinder engine was made available for the first time in the Thunderbird's history in , the cu in 3. For , this was followed up with the replacement of the straight-six engine with a more modern V6, the 3.
It came equipped with a Motorcraft 2V carburetor. Hurting the Thunderbird's sales performance further, the V8 did not return for , leaving the cu in V8 as the only alternative engine. At , units produced between and , the eighth generation of the Thunderbird was barely more successful than the final model year of the previous Thunderbird generation.
In response to the lackluster reception of the eighth-generation — Thunderbird, Ford executed a significant redesign for Though based on the Fox body as the previous Thunderbird, the new Thunderbird featured a radically sleeker, more aerodynamic body and a slightly shorter wheelbase of To power the new Thunderbird, the 3.
All-new, and a Thunderbird first, was a turbocharged 2. The engine initially was rated at hp kW , but by , power was increased to hp kW. Another first was the availability of a five-speed manual transmission with the turbocharged four. In , the higher trim model was the Heritage; this was renamed the Elan in Also, a Fila-branded model was introduced.
In , a special 30th Anniversary edition was available, with special Medium Regatta Blue Metallic paint, special graphics, and trim. For , the Thunderbird received a significant refresh complete with new sheet metal and a revised front fascia with aerodynamic composite headlamps. Mechanically, the car was mostly unchanged.
The V6 models carried over port fuel injection from , while the Turbo Coupe's turbocharged four-cylinder engine gained an intercooler, increasing output to hp kW and lb of torque. On December 26, , a completely redesigned Thunderbird was introduced as a model along with the similar Mercury Cougar. The Thunderbird was the first in the car's history not to offer a V8 engine, instead offering two different versions of Ford's 3. Standard versions of the Thunderbird received a naturally aspirated version of the V6 producing hp kW , while the "Super Coupe" model received a supercharged and intercooled version of the engine rated at hp kW.
The naturally aspirated V6 came with an AOD four-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The Super Coupe's engine had the same 3. Among the modifications, the engine block and heads were modified to enhance coolant flow, the crankshaft was upgraded to a fully counterweighted forged unit, the billet roller cam had a unique profile, and the pistons were made of a stronger hypereutectic alloy. The supercharger used was an Eaton M90 Roots style , designed for mounting atop the intake manifold.
Boost pressure during hard acceleration under ideal conditions is approximately 12 psi 0. In for the model year, a V8 was offered in the Thunderbird once again, slotting in between the standard and supercharged versions of the 3. The V8 5. For , the one-year-only Thunderbird Sport model featured the 5. In , the model year Thunderbird received a substantial refresh, including stylistic changes inside and out and mechanical enhancements. In particular, the Windsor 5.
The performance increase is largely attributed to the tighter gap tolerance of the supercharger rotors allowed by the use of resin coating and a new high-flow supercharger case. The car was reportedly refurbished by Bill Elliott Racing Enterprises in and campaigned in various historic racing series before being acquired by the seller in Subsequent work consisted of race preparation, engine removal and replacement in , and maintenance.
Features include a rear spoiler, hood and trunk pins, safety straps affixed to the windshield and rear window, and side-exit exhaust pipes. The seller notes that rubber marks are visible on the bodywork. AFCO brake ducts are installed to assist with brake cooling, and braking is handled by unassisted AP Racing discs up front and Brembo discs out back.
The seller notes that the chassis was a road course specialty tube frame example and that the shocks were rebuilt and tuned during current ownership. The cockpit features a full roll cage with BSI padding along with a NASCAR safety fixed-back aluminum racing seat, a multi-point harness, a suit and helmet cooling system, and window netting.
The dashboard is signed by Bill Elliott and a photocopy of a letter of authenticity from Bill Elliott is included the sale. The three-spoke PRP steering wheel frames a column-mounted Autometer tachometer and four auxiliary gauges mounted to the dashboard.
A panel of eight switches is mounted on the dashboard to the left of the column, and a kill switch is mounted to the right of the gauges. The ci V8 was built and dyno-tuned by Steve Rolenc Enterprises of Tucson, Arizona, and features a single four-barrel carburetor, Edelbrock Victor intake manifold, and tubular headers.
The car is fitted with an aluminum Fluidyne radiator with an electric fan and a gallon fuel cell. An engine dyno sheet is shown in the gallery. The Ernie Elliott-built ci V8 engine was removed in and is included in the sale. The seller notes that the engine should be refreshed before usage. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a G-Force four-speed manual transmission and a nine-inch rear axle.
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Bill Elliott 1987 Ford Thunderbird startup at Simeone Foundation 2/13/16