Life with a classic T-Bird and why you should follow your dreams
Here is a story to encourage you to follow your automotive dreams just like I did by purchasing a classic
We have all heard the news by now about DT coming to an end but I wanted to give you a little encouragement in this difficult time to keep going strong. I will do my best to encourage you with the story of my T-Bird "Lucy" and why you should never be afraid of making a big step. That part will be at the end, so be patient with me.
It was the end of 2020 when my wife and I were talking about wanting to get a fun car again. We used to have a Challenger a few years back but with the arrival of our daughter we wanted something more practical at the time. We knew we wanted a classic car of some sort since you just see a good bit of modern cars at all the car meets and on daily endeavors. We just didn't know what to get for our budget. Most American cars that were of interest were unreasonably priced (thanks Mecum auction) and the European ones are harder to find, source parts and have serviced where I live. We always loved big land yachts from the 50s and early 60s, fortunately for us that market is overshadowed by the muscle era.
Deciding on a Thunderbird and finding the one
It was somewhere between the holidays that we were browsing online late at night looking at Ford Thunderbirds, in particular the 3rd generation (1961-1963, Bullet bird) as it ticked off all the right boxes: Chrome, tail fins, jet age design, reasonably priced and four seats. My wife is actually the one that found the one we have now. I was looking at a red one, restored for a higher price. She convinced me to get this one and I am glad she did.
Picture from the dealership
Making the decision and taking delivery
It might surprise you but my wife played the biggest role in purchasing the car. I am a natural worrier so I was reluctant to actually make an offer and buy the car. What if it isn't what we thought it would be? What are the operating costs? Do we want to make this investment? Well she did finally convince me and we bought the car from a classic car dealership in Illinois, right outside of Chicago. We did not go up and inspect the car before hand which was quite the gamble I guess. It took a few weeks to get the car delivered as there were severe snow storms across the Midwest. But we finally took delivery on MLK day 2021. The car was filthy from all the road grime and such but we were happy when the truck arrived and she was all we hoped for.
The design and 1960s
As I have mentioned the design is really what gets me about the car. Just think about it, the car is from 1962, that was 30 years before I was born. The car was build a few months before the Cuban missile crisis, lived through the space exploration (hence the design), civil rights movement, oil crisis and so on. The car was there for all of those major events. The front is slanted like bullet, hence the name bullet bird and features a chrome strip along the crease of the body, from front to back, the two round tail lights look like boosters from a space rocket or jet plane. The interior features a swing away steering wheel to make getting in and out easier, especially when woman still wore a lot of dresses it made it easier. Inside you will find a vinyl interior with very comfortable seats and a wrap around dashboard.
Some people have asked about the handling of the car. Well, it is an American car from the 60s so it isn't exactly a canyon carving monster. However, I actually like the handling. These types of cars were made for suburb America, you exit your neighborhood and jump on the parkway to go to your job as a banker, marketing guy or jet engineer. The car was made for comfort as it is a persona luxury vehicle. The interior is very spacious for 4 people, yes, even 4 adults. The car has a FE390 ci (6.4L) engine under the hood, mounted to a 3 speed cruise-o-matic. The car will go if you really want to, and it moves the +4,000 lbs. body effortlessly. The engine does have some decent performance, 300 hp and 427 lb-ft/579NM, but of course it is a cruiser. The car sits on giant leaf springs on the back and shocks up front which give the car some body roll in corners. But boy is it a smooth ride. The car also has drum brakes all around which aren't the greatest but I do not want to upgrade due to preserving the car. If you understand that the car was build for the great American road trip or interstate travel then you will find the handling nice and relaxing.
Get to the point...
Ok, now to the point and conclusion. We had the car for almost a year now and it had been a blast. Sure some work was needed on the car but I love sharing the car with others. Driving around puts a smile on other peoples faces. People come up to talk about the car, telling you how they remember these cars from their childhood. One lady even cried becuase her grandmother had one very similar to ours and it reminded her of her childhood. It is fun for the whole family in our house too. My 3 year old daughter loves the car and is always sad when we don't take it out.
Here is your encouragement though: If you are debating on buying a car, new, classic, project, etc. but have doubt in your mind. Do it. Jut do it. Be wise and do your homework but sometimes you just have to go with it. You will love every moment of it. Even if it isn;t a car and you are looking at a collectible, diecast or if ou should fly across the county to go to an event. The momories made are always worth it and outweigh the what ifs or doubts. I am saying this to you because DT is shutting down and I want you to pursue your automotive passion. I hope you enjoyed my little review of Lucy and get some motivation to pursue your dreams. I am sure we will somehow somewhere stay in touch. until then let the screen at the drive in tell the story. Have a wonderful time and here is to you guys!
Here is to you guys, an ice cold root beer (not actual beer). Cheers