Spotted: Rare Four Door Thunderbird
Ford's baby Lincoln Continental that is mostly shunned by enthusiasts
For the 1967-1971 5th generation of Ford's iconic personal luxury coupe, you could buy one that wasn't a coupe at all! Through all of its 11 generations stretching from 1955 to 2005, they never tried a four door again. The Thunderbird moved upmarket to allow space for the sportier Mustang, having the side effect of the four door being close to the Lincoln Continental in both form and function.
When I saw this car back in May of 2020, I didn't realize what it was. All I saw were these Continental-esque suicide doors. Additionally, the rear windows are a lot smaller than the door openings, making the rear seem smaller than it actually is.
There's a good foot of the white painted roof that comes away with the doors. Not sure why they did it like that as it must make the rear a little claustrophobic. Still, the four doors weren't supposed to be super practical so it makes sense.
I might just like this better than the coupe! But people who collect 60s cars tend to shun anything with four doors and even this novel take on a luxury sedan isn't enough to catch their interest. It's really a shame because there's a lot to like about this underappreciated and undervalued head turner.
Also note the opposed wipers
One of the most striking features of the 5th gen Thunderbird other than a choice of the number of doors is this gaping maw on the front with hidden headlights. The covers are designed to look like part of the grille but flip up when the lights are turned on.
This particular example has only a claimed 33,000 miles, but 50 years has definitely taken its toll. Still, you can see how swanky the inside of this generation of Thunderbird was. Swathes of cream colored leather and chrome are everywhere. This car has a lot of style for sure.
I love how the console elegantly sweeps up to outline the gauge cluster with chrome detailing. A sporty bucket seat with center console combo like this would have seemed pretty novel in the late 60s so I've surprised to see it so well integrated with the dashboard.
Ford was pretty proud of this innovation, but it didn't sell super well. We take rakish four door luxury "coupes" for granted nowadays, but Ford was about 40 years too early with this car. The market just didn't embrace the four door like they did the coupe.
Perhaps the four door would have sold better if it had been given the totally-out-there-man advertising applied to the two door. I'd argue the coupe was less remarkable in its era but it sure got better ads. What exactly is happening here?
Some say if you accidentally spill just the right amount of coffee on the radio of an old Thunderbird while the radio is set to preset #5 at just the right volume, you will activate an ancient spell that will transport you and your car to the unholy dimen...
Reminds me of this gem from the other Oppo site. That's where we mostly hang out nowadays.
So, tell me, is the four door Thunderbird a criminally overlooked classic? Or can it just not stand up to the legend of the four door? Personally, I'd totally rock one.