The Distinctive Ford Thunderbird of the Early Sixties
The third generation of the Ford Thunderbird made its debut in 1961 and remained on the market through 1963. It featured a much sleeker, more striking design than the prior generation and over 100 improvements including several automotive firsts. The projectile-style body gave it a long, lean look that made it thinner than previous versions of the car. It also came in two new models, a two-seater roadster and a vinyl-covered hardtop coupe. Standard features included an automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes which were often pricey options in other cars. RELATED: See More of the 1963 Ford Thunderbird
There was also an optional swing-away steering wheel that nearly 77 percent of buyers chose. This unique steering wheel shifted about 18 inches to the right when the Ford Thunderbird was in park so that the driver could more easily exit the vehicle. A floating rear view mirror was also standard. That's no big deal today, but this was an automotive first at the time.
A new, larger, 6.4-liter FE-Series V8 provided plenty of power. The car was popular enough to be selected as the Indianapolis 500 pace car and even earned a spot in President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade. Its innovative features and prominence at events help make the third generation Ford Thunderbird as desirable today as it was back in the 1960s.
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