Ford Thunderbird ~ Everything You Need To Know

Dan Kahns' 1962 Ford Thunderbird ~ Photo by Drew Phillips
Dan Kahns' 1962 Ford Thunderbird ~ Photo by Drew Phillips

The Ford Thunderbird was meant to be the Ford Motor Company’s answer to Chevrolets’ Corvette. But unlike the Chevy Corvette, it was not marketed as a sports car — Ford positioned the Thunderbird as an upscale model and it is credited in developing a new market segment, the personal luxury car.

From Square Birds to Bullet Birds to Aero Birds to Retro Birds, this American icon got bigger and bigger (literally) and even shared the same platform as the Foxbody Mustang!

Take flight with James Pumphrey and discover how it all happened and meet the people who shaped it into a National Treasure.


  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 02:55 Lightning, Etc.
  • 06:30 Thundaaa
  • 09:23 Square-Birds & Bullet-Birds
  • 12:24 Turbo Coupes
  • 15:38 Retro-Birds

Ford Thunderbird (colloquially called the T-Bird) is a nameplate that was used by Ford from model years 1955 to 1997 and 2002 to 2005 for a personal luxury car during which there were eleven distinct generations.

Introduced in the 1955 model year as a sporty two-seat convertible, the Thunderbird was produced in a variety of body configurations. These included:

  • four-seat hardtop coupe,
  • four-seat convertible,
  • five-seat convertible and hardtop,
  • four-door pillared hardtop sedan,
  • six-passenger hardtop coupe, and
  • five passenger pillared coupe.

The final generation was designed again as a two-seat convertible.

Ford targeted the two-seat Thunderbird as an upscale model, but the design introduced for 1958 featured a rear seat and arguably marked expansion of a market segment eventually known as personal luxury cars — an American interpretation of the grand tourer.

Personal luxury cars were built with a higher emphasis on driving comfort and convenience features over handling and high-speed performance.

Browse Ford Thunderbird Cars and Project Vehicles for sale.

Unable To Find A Thunderbird?

Look at the sister cars…

From 1968 to 1998, Lincoln-Mercury marketed rebadged variants of the Ford Thunderbird as: