Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

1 of 455: Rare 1963 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster

In 1961, somebody within the walls of the Ford Motor Company had the idea of recapturing some of the “roadster” mojo of the original two-seater Thunderbird without shortening the car (which was 30 inches longer and over 1,000 pounds heavier than the first generation T-Bird ). So, for the 1962 model year, Ford added the Sports Roadster to the Thunderbird lineup. It featured a removable fiberglass tonneau cover that was positioned across the back seats. It was supposed to give the illusion of a somewhat sporty two-seater, and beautiful Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were also added to bolster the sporty illusion. But, between the cost (Sports Roadsters were $651 more than a Convertible and $1,118 more than the Hardtop) and the buying public not buying the “illusion” that a two-ton luxury coupe was a roadster, the limited-edition Sports Roadster only sold 1,427 units in 1962, and a mere 455 were sold in 1963. This definitely puts a Sports Roadster in the “Rare Bird” and collectability categories and here’s one of the surviving 455 units produced in 1963 for your consideration. It’s located in the Kalispell, Montana area and is for sale here on craigslist for $47,500. Another feather in his cap for T.J. for his fine bird watching abilities and for sending this tip to Barn Finds.

Zero history or background of this Rare Bird is provided. It’s described as a VIN-matching “real deal” – not a clone -driver-quality Sports Roadster that’s had one repaint. The seller says “everything else is original as far as I can tell.” The ‘Bird’s current Corinthian White paint looks shiny and presentable and the body looks very good overall (the seller says the body has a few blemishes but doesn’t give details). The chrome, trim, glass, Sports Roadster badging, and factory Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels all look very good as does the black convertible top. No major issues spotted.

The black interior also appears to be in very good condition and I’m not seeing any glaring flaws. The seller confesses that he “thinks” everything else is original except for the one repaint, which I find a bit odd. I’m no Bullet Bird expert, so I’m not sure if everything in this ‘Bird’s interior is how it left the factory. If so, it is in remarkable condition for a 60-year-old car, especially the black leather bucket seats and rear seat. And that ultra cool space-age dash is probably my favorite design of all the classic Thunderbirds. I’d love looking at that cockpit every time I drove it.

Here’s a view of the distinctive fiberglass tonneau which covered the area behind the front bucket seats. It’s kinda funny that Ford’s advertising team used a selling feature of “having more room for luggage and storage in the back seats with the tonneau cover in place.” Ah, those Don Draper’s of the 1960’s ad world.

There’s only one photo of the engine bay that show’s the ‘Bird’s 390-cubic inch V8 which generated 300 horses when new. It’s mated to the Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission and the mileage is listed at 15,543, although their’s nothing stated about documentation if that’s the actual mileage. The seller says, “the car runs smooth…trans works just fine…I guess the engine bay could stand a detailing but, to be honest, it shows just how unmolested the car is.” So what do you think? The seller says it’s the real deal, not a clone, and not priced at $75k and up. I would definitely recommend doing due diligence on this one. Hagerty’s values a ’63 Thunderbird Sports Roadster in #3 condition at $53,900 and a #2 at $79,200. If what is claimed in the ad is true about this Rare Bird, the $47,500 asking price seems reasonable.



  1. Tbone

    This generation Tbird is growing on me as I enter geezer-hood. Really like the interiors and the rocket ship taillights

    Like 18
    • Joe

      My ultimate favorite of all birds.

      Like 12
    • BigDaddyBonz

      Have to agree with you T-bone. Love the looks. Friend’s big brother had one when I was a young teen. All of us kids wanted to ride in it.

      Like 1
  2. Bob Gerometta

    Must have body code 73B rather than “A” and normally would have sported the “M” 3 2-barrel 340 HP 390 CID

    Like 11
    • Gord

      Only 120 1962 and 37 1963 Sports Roadsters were ordered with the M series tri power

      Like 8
    • al

      the tri power 390 was rated at 401 HP

      Like 4
      • jokacz

        There was a 340 horse tri-power 390 with hydraulic lifters that went in these T-Birds. The 401 horse engine had solid lifters and never went into a Thunderbird. They both shared the big valve heads, the 340 was pretty much a 390 cube Cobra Jet with 3 deuces..

        Like 8
    • Douglas Wildey

      That always came with the M series motor there would be an M instead of a z in the VIN number. But for people that know roadsters first of all it should not have fender skirts the Kelsey and Hayes Wheels never cleared the fender skirts second of all it doesn’t have to grab bar it should be on the passenger side dashboard

      Like 1
  3. That AMC Guy

    I mainly remember these from the old “Outer Limits” TV show.


    Like 0
  4. al

    Jokacz you are right the 401 HP had solid lifters the one I had was in a 1961 star liner you remember the 406 ford’s with tri power and 405 HP always liked them

    Like 4
  5. RichardinMaine

    Even as a British and Italian car obsessed young teen I thought this was pretty cool. But white paint makes it look like even more of a whale

    Like 2
  6. Malcolm Greer

    The presence of a grab bar on the passenger side dash was a part of the Sports Roadster package. Also, because of the Kelsey-Hayes’ propensity for trashing the fender skirts, most were driven with them off. I’m not sure if the factory included the skirts because of that, but most brochures of the SR’s show the skirts deleted. Or, if the owner was savvy enough, he could remove the knock-off on the rear wheels.

    Like 3
    • Bob Mck

      There were no skirts on the SR’s. The wheels stick out too far for them to fit.

      Like 0
      • Jim Ayres

        The seller states “the fender skirts were recently added and i have taken them off they can go with the car but thats not how it came factory plus they interfeard with the knock off wheel spinners..”

        Like 0
  7. Kenn

    Rare doesn’t always translate to valuable. Else Yugo’s would be valuable today.

    Like 1
  8. William Maceri

    While the 61-63 Thunderbirds aren’t my favorite years, that doesn’t mean I don’t like them, I do. I was 8 years old in 1963, but I do remember them quite well. The styling was unique and good looking. The front grill and headlights resemble the Lincoln Continentals. The knife blade sides toped with a chrome molding set the design well. The afterburner taillights and small fins was one of Ford styling ques found on most Fords of the era. The dashboard resembles a cockpit with pods in front of the driver and passenger, rose high enough to make you feel surrounded in a capsule the instrument clusters were very well designed and center console fit the look. Ford used that same design on the 69 – 70 Mustangs, I had a 69 Mach I, and I loved that. Even as a kid the entire interior was finished really well, the materials used added a high quality feel to it, in fact all the Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns all had that same feel. Much better than the GM and Chrysler built cars. That was a very big deal to me, I knew that I would own a Ford some day because of the fit and finish of Ford’s interiors. From then on I have only driven Fords. Mustangs, Mercurys and Lincolns, Explorers and F-Series trucks. As I got older, my cousin had a Thunderbird S.R. he let me drive it all the time, when I did, I felt like I was really something.

    Like 2
  9. Beauwayne5000

    Exact same car R&D CLASSICS in germany. but in RED sold out of Missouri to Germany 300hp V8 Roadster Convertible mint condition 56k$-Euro about 60k$ U.S.
    The Roadster look is good but Ford needed to Lose 1200lbs off the car w/a Aero Jag/Ferrari style and backbone chassis.

    Like 0
  10. Heartbreaker AL

    I have owned bullet Birds for 60 years, all of the models ever made. This is a gorgeous example of Fords ultimate sports/luxury car, but it is not a Roadster. Real ones are becoming so hard to find they are exceeding the six figure range for collectors who can afford them, and know what they are looking at. A trashed barn find Roadster is 50k and up. My only tip from an experienced Bullet-Bird restorer is: Rebuild that front suspension or you will be putting your, or someone else’s life, in pearl. I know from tragic experience.

    Like 0
  11. jokacz

    I just noticed the name plate on the counsel that the original owner received. My mother got one with her new 1961, also a set of crystal tumblers with the T-bird etched into them. Funny how I can remember that stuff, but not why I just walked into a room. lol

    Like 1
  12. Keith

    Always liked these T-Birds since the Christmas my brother and I got a slot car track set. He took the Jag XKE and I took the T-Bird roadster. The Bird would spin the rear tires so hard on take off that it would fish tail. Gotta love it.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.