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Ford Classic Cars

Updated on June 15, 2016

Every car lover has a list of their favorite classic cars that they either own or would like to own. Chrysler Corporation, GM and Ford each made many classic cars that are sought after by collectors more today than ever before.

Ford built some of the coolest classic cars of the day especially with the first and second generation Thunderbirds and the always classic Ford Mustang, especially the 2+2 model. Those early T-Birds with those great portholes were instant classics. And the Mustang, which took the car world by storm in late 1964, is still a hot item with collectors.

For me personally, I was always more partial to the classic Dodges and Plymouths of the day, but even I have to give a nod to these classic Fords.

Please see below for some thoughts and photos on these great cars!

Ford Classic Cars - 1957 Ford Thunderbird
Ford Classic Cars - 1957 Ford Thunderbird
Ford Classic Cars - 1957 Ford T-Bird
Ford Classic Cars - 1957 Ford T-Bird

First Generation Ford Thunderbird

The Thunderbird, also called "T-Bird", was built by the Ford Motor Company through different generations from 1955 through 2005. The first generation from 1955 to 1957 turned out some of the most classic of all automobiles.

The idea for the Ford Thunderbird began in 1953 when Ford wanted a car that could respond to Chevrolet's new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form earlier that same year.

The Thunderbird was to be developed very quickly, going from idea to prototype in about a year. It was unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show in February 1954.

Both the Thunderbird and Corvette were two-seat coupe/convertible layouts. Production of the Thunderbird began later on in 1954 with the first T-bird's coming out in late 1954 for the 1955 model year.

Even though the Ford T-Bird shared some of the characteristics of other Fords of the time, such as single, circular headlamps and tail lamps along with modest tailfins, the Thunderbird still had an overall sleeker design than anything Ford had on the road at that time. The Thunderbird also had a cool hood scoop and a 150 mph speedometer.

Though the T-Bird was competing with the Corvette, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a personal luxury car, instead of going the sportiness route.

The Ford Thunderbird sold exceptionally well in its first year. In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by a wide margin in the 1955 model year.

The T-Bird was considered a big success so few changes were made to the car for 1956. Probably the most notable was moving the spare tire to a continental-style rear bumper in order to make more storage room in the trunk. It was changed back in 1957. Another addition that came along was the the addition of circular porthole windows in the fiberglass roof to improve rearward visibility. Also available was a 312 cu. in. V8.

Ford did revise the Thunderbird for 1957 by reshaping the front bumper, along with changing the grille, tailfins and including larger tail lamps. The 312 cu. in. V8 (now producing 245 horsepower) became the Thunderbird's standard engine. Other, more powerful versions of the 312 V8 were available with Holley carburetors, while others were supercharged.

Ford Classic Cars - 1960 Ford Thunderbird
Ford Classic Cars - 1960 Ford Thunderbird
Ford Classic Cars - T-Bird with tonneau cover
Ford Classic Cars - T-Bird with tonneau cover

Second Generation Ford Thunderbird

The second generation of Thunderbirds produced from 1958 through 1960 and are commonly referred to as the "Squarebirds" by T-Bird enthusiasts, due to their design.

Even though the Thunderbird had been considered a huge success, Ford executives felt that being a two-seater restricted the car's sales potential. The T-Bird was redesigned as a four-seater for 1958. The new Thunderbird was considerably larger than the previous generation, with a longer (113.0 inches) wheelbase to accommodate the new back seat. The increase in size of the new Thunderbird also increased the weight of the car by almost 1,000 pounds.

Part of the new styling included dual headlights, bigger tailfins, and a newly designed chrome grille. Also included was a larger, cool-looking, but non-functional hood scoop. The T-bird also had a new power plant, a 352 cu. in. V8, producing 300 horsepower and was available with a 3-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Ford Thunderbird sales continued to climb, selling 37,892 T-Birds in 1958, 67,456 in 1959 and Ford closed out the second generation of Thunderbirds by selling 92,843 units for 1960.

1957 Ford Thunderbird

Ford Classic Cars - Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback
Ford Classic Cars - Ford Mustang 2+2 Fastback
Ford Classic Cars - 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2
Ford Classic Cars - 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2

1965 Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang was built by the Ford Motor Company and hit the market in late 1964. It was Lee Iacocca who championed the car as Ford division's general manager.

Specific goals were given to the Mustang design team. The Mustang should weigh 2,500 pounds or less, be no longer than 180 inches, seat four, have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter. It should also have numerous options in the areas of power, comfort and luxury.

In order to save money during the development phase, Ford used the chassis, suspension, and drive train from the Ford Fairlane and Falcon.

The Ford Mustang was introduced five months before the normal start of the production year and was referred to as the 1964½ model, but "early 1965" is probably more accurate because the car underwent significant changes at the beginning of the regular model year and was marketed by Ford as 1965 models.

The hardtop model came with a 170 cu. in. straight-6 engine and three-speed manual transmission. The cost was $2,368. Later engine options included, a 200 cu. in. 120 hp T-code" engine, a 200 hp "C-code" 289 cu. in. engine with a two-barrel carburetor that became the base V8, an "A-code" 225 hp four-barrel and a "K-code" 271 hp 289 cu. in. V8.

The Mustang was originally available as either a hardtop or convertible, but it wasn't long before the Mustang 2+2 fastback made its debut with its swept-back rear glass and very cool and distinctive ventilation louvers, which could be manually controlled from the back seats.

The standard interior features of the 1965 Mustang included adjustable front bucket seats, an AM radio and a floor-mounted shifter. Ford added additional interior options during the 1965 model year, such as a mechanical remote-operated mirror, a floor console and a bench seat. An under-dash air-conditioning unit became another interior option. It seems odd to think of a car in today's world without back up lights, but they were an option in 1965 for the Ford Mustang.

There were a few changes to the 1966 Mustang, which included a new grille, side ornamentation, wheel covers and so on. Ford also offered a large number of new paint and interior color options, an AM/eight-track sound system and one of the first AM/FM mono automobile radios.

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