Four Unusual Doors: 1968 Ford Thunderbird

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Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

This 1968 Thunderbird has those interesting rearward opening doors in the back. Some call them “suicide” doors! Maybe this will win over those ‘two-door only’ readers? Anyway, it’s located only about 30 miles south of me in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It’s up for sale here on eBay where the buy it now price is $8,900 but lower offers are welcomed.

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One of the most challenging items for the stylists must have been to incorporate the rear door shut line half way into the landau vinyl top! The car really looks nice with the original wheel covers and a period color. The seller says they don’t have time for it anymore as they are deployed (I thank them for their service!) and want to see it go to someone who will appreciate it.

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As a child, I had a ‘68 Thunderbird Hot Wheel that was almost this color, and I remember loving the front end styling even then. I still love it!

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Here’s a better look at those great doors! There’s also a swing-away steering wheel, so there’s really no excuse for not being able to get into this big old car! Unfortunately, you can also see that some upholstery repair or replacement will be needed to get that interior up to snuff.

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Uh-oh! Yes, those bubbles under the vinyl are exactly what you think they are. The seller has already purchased a replacement set of top material, so it’s time to take the step of removing this top, fixing the damage and putting the new top material on. If you don’t want to take that on yourself, most local upholstery shops around here will take it on for you; I’m guessing that’s true in other locales as well.

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If we believe the air cleaner, this is a 429 Thunder Jet engine, which when new meant 360 horsepower and over 420 ft-lbs of torque! Even with a curb weight of 4541 pounds, that’s still enough power to make things interesting on the street! The seller has done a lot of mechanical refurbishment to the car, ranging from engine part replacement to suspension refurbishment. I think this one would be fun; I know I’d be willing to install that vinyl top; how about you?

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Comments

  1. JW454

    Even though how they open is different, the two extra doors are not for me. I do like the swing-away-steering wheel. A friend had it in an earlier T-Bird and it was nice when getting in the car. Nice car.

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  2. Howard A Member

    Even though this is more a baby Lincoln than a Thunderbird, it is a pretty nice car. Look how comfy that interior looks. Bet you could sit in those seats for many an hour. Relatively respectable performance from a heavy car, 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, 1/4 mile 16.2@ 88mph,,,ah, but there’s a price for all that comfy power. These averaged 7 mpg in city and maybe 10-12 highway. Still, Ford knew what they were doing in ’68, and made some great cars, this being one of them. Very nice car.

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    • scooter8

      had a friend? who lived out of his 69T bird, right by the neighbor hood bar. didn’t have far to stumble.dark red int. with wrap around back seat musta’ looked comfortable! get’s cold in chi.didn’t last long, found a stooge to take him in.he’s still alive&well. Tbird ?

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  3. Mark

    By this late in their production run Thunderbird weren’t really Thunderbirds! They had transformed from a sports car to a boat. When they 1st came out they were intended to be competition for the Corvette yet as they grew larger and larger they moved into a completely different category one that they really didn’t belong in!

    1+
    • Tony Catania

      Except That The Square Birds Outsold The 1955-57 Ten To 1.
      They Were More Successful Than The Original 2 Seaters Ever Were Which Show’s That Ford Read The Market Correctly.There Weren’t Enough Buyer’s For 2 Seaters To Be Sales Successful.The Original Birds We’re More Sporty Than Sports Car When Compared To The Corvette.For Invented The Personal Luxury Car With The Introduction Of The Square Birds In 1958.

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  4. grant

    If I were looking for this generation T bird, I would want the 4 door, these are cool. Always liked the way the backseat wraps around also.

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  5. Dave Wright

    When I was in High school one of the girl’s dad had one of these. One day she loaded it up with kids for a sking trip………….on the way out of the mountain, everyone was well alcholed up……a passenger in the back seat opened the door before the car stopped. It grabbed a snow bank, ripped off the door and nearly tore off the rear quarter panal. I think it was totaled…….as a fairly new car.

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    • Mark

      Thus you found the reason they are called suicide doors!

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  6. Blindmarc

    One of these bring back some strong memories with my decested brother in law and his friend Steve Martinez. It got repainted 4 times in 6 months in my sisters backyard. Scary times……

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    • Bill

      What does “decested” mean?

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      • 4-Doors-for-My-Tuba

        I’m guessing deceased.

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      • Blindmarc

        fat fingers spelling.

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      • Neil

        Deaded.

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  7. Rick

    Pretty color, looks like a nice car. Back in ’99 I bought a ’69 4 dr 429 T-Bird from the original owners, was metallic grey with a white top and white interior, looked nice (even though I am not a fan of white vinyl) anyhow it only had like 70,000 mi on it , was bought new from Diehl Ford here in Bellingham. Biggest challenge was keeping the power windows working, I finally gave up and sold it because at the time the car wasn’t worth putting in several hundred dollars in window switches.

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    • Larry

      Power windows are such a problem, many people convert to manual.

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      • M B

        Don’t think you’ll find any “conversion parts” for the windows in these ‘Birds, 2dr or 4dr.

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  8. Pfk1106

    Trying to be more luxury than sporty, into the mid 70s their market was replaced by the mark 111s

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  9. AMCSTEVE

    But that roof. Rust looks bad and prolly through. That’s not a great spot for rust repair, too bad

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  10. Roselandpete

    Love those doors.

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  11. Paul R

    No A/C and black interior would be rough in the summer time!

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  12. angliagt

    I don’t think I’d consider any Tbird a sports car – more of a
    sports touring car.
    I got to ride in the back of one of these,a ’69 I believe,with
    the cloth interior,in Vancouver,BC.It was one of the smoothest,
    quietest,comfortable cars I’ve ever ridden in.

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  13. Marty Wilke Marty Staff

    Love it or hate it, no one can accuse it of looking like anything else.

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  14. Charles H.

    Really, in my opinion, when this generation of the T-Bird was introduced, it really was just a whole new Ford model, that instead of coming up with a new name for it, they just stuck the Thunderbird name on it. It’s like they basically stopped making T-Birds, and replaced it with this, but just gave it the same name……unfortunate, but still a very nice car, but a true Thunderbird, it isn’t!

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  15. ben

    had a few of them not bad cars but this one is gonna need a lot pull that vinal off and I bet swiss cheese they were good for that even the 2doors once mosture got under the vinal rust the rot they made the 4dr 67n 68 69 not two many left but a nice donor engine for a mustang that’s what happened to a lot of them price way to high for my blood like 4500 to 5000 but iam sure some one will grab it ill keep my 64 bird

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  16. Mike M

    These ‘birds were nice, luxury barges back in their day. By early 70’s I worked after school at the local Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership. In Sept, 1971, I was able to acquire a one-owner 1968 Lincoln Continental, as it was traded in on the new ’72 Continental on the showroom floor. With only 42,000 one-owner miles, even then the power windows could be a challenge to keep operational. But that 462 ci MEL motor was so sweet! Coupled with the C6 and 2.80 “directed power” rear axle ratio, it had really long legs. The car was in Huron Blue Metallic with dark blue leather interior. It had the adjustable ‘autronic eye’ to auto-dim the headlights when you met another car, or roll back into town (streetlights would set the dimmer off). Barring any rust issues of this T-bird offering, electrical issues would be my #1 concern.

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  17. CarGuyRick

    A cool detail of this particular body style was the rain gutter runs through the center of the landau bars, only on the four door cars. My dad had a new one of these when I was a kid. I thought the sequential turn signals were the coolest thing on any car. Probably why I have a 1965 Thunderbird now!

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  18. M B

    I never thought too much about these cars when they were new. I found one in a salvage yard (complete!), but apparently had an engine problem. The interior was fantastically done. Great designs and materials. Fix the engine and drive it out, it seemed.

    T-bird transitioned from “sporty” to “personal luxury” with the 1958 model year. CAR LIFE magazine tested a coupe in 1968. High trip to Vegas got about 16mpg, at “those speeds”.

    Wouldn’t mind having one as not everybody else has one. The vinyl roof is an issue, though, but somewhat common. Never knew until you get the top material off and get it cleaned up! Where’s the a/c compressor??

    1+
  19. guggie

    My landloard had one of these same color , sharp car rode great ,terrible in snow upstate NY. His car had air ,I thought it was the lap of luxury !

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