Beautifully Restored: 1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Yesterday we took a look at a hot rod “baby-bird” 1955 Ford Thunderbird and today, we’re going to move one generation forward to what is known as the “square-bird” era (’58-’60) and check out a 1960 version. This Thunderbird is in stock/original condition, as opposed to possessing a hot-rod vibe, and is a beautiful example. It is located in Quincy, Illinois and is available, here on BF Classifieds for $29,500. Additional images are available here on classiccars.

The seller refers to this Thunderbird as “super straight and rock-solid body“. It has a very original bearing about itself but it is not completely “as new” since it has been treated to new paint, interior, and a convertible top. Obviously, this 66K mile Ford was a strong candidate for refurbishment because it has turned out exceptionally well and shows as new. No mention is made regarding the chrome and stainless trim but it has either undergone restoration or has well withstood the test of time. The tan convertible top, which matches the interior’s shade, offers an attractive contrast to the deep Monte Carlo Red finish.

This T-Bird packs a punch under its hood in the form of the standard 300 HP, 352 CI V8 engine. The seller lists this car as possessing the optional 430 CI motor but it doesn’t, that’s an error. He also states, that it “runs and drives great“. With only 66K miles on its clock, this ‘Bird should have many miles of authoritative motoring still to enjoy. Along with its three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, this convertible is optioned with power steering, power brakes, and a power top. And yes, it still has its original radio.

The interior mimics the exterior with its attention to clean and original detail. The tan upholstery appears to have been expertly installed and blends perfectly with the center console and door cards. What sets cars from this era apart from their modern descendants are the instrument panels. The aluminum, stainless trim, and bright gauge surrounds are clearly from a bygone time. To lend a bit to this Thunderbird’s performance aura is the 140 MPH speedometer. A bit ambitious? Maybe on circa 1960 bias-ply tires but statistics of the time peg top-end for this big-motored four-seater at about 120 MPH.

While many bemoaned the loss of the two-seat, first-generation T-Bird, the second-generation was an unmitigated sales success with about 200K copies finding new homes, and almost half of that number in 1960 alone. Ford’s instinct around the need to add a backseat was spot on. If you’re in the market for a square-bird, this example’s restoration, and its spectacular result, makes this 1960 Thunderbird one to consider, wouldn’t you agree?

WANT ADS

WANTED 1976-1980 Plymouth volare Looking for Dodge Aspen / Plymouth Volare donor car with good sheet metal for parts for my project Contact

WANTED 1970-1978 Datsun 240z 260z 280z Hello, I’m looking to buy a datsun z car from 1970-1978, project condition or nicer car considered Contact

WANTED 1995 Cadillac Cadillac Eldorado Concertible Classic White Red White Contact

WANTED 1973-1974 Chevrolet Corvette Looking for a 4-speed convertible with A/C in the Los Angeles, CA area Contact

WANTED 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS Have cash in hand. Call 573-541-1970 or email collectorcarsandparts@yahoo.com Contact

Submit Your Want Ad

Comments

  1. Lumpy

    Awesome!

    Like 2
  2. scott m

    Never realized what a rocket ship these were!

    Like 2
  3. Skorzeny

    Ford’s instinct around the need to add a backseat was spot on. Jim, really? Then Chevrolet should have made the Corvette a 4 seater?

    Like 3
    • Turbo

      Were there more Tbirds or Corvettes sold those years?

      Like 7
    • Jay Morgan

      I concur.

      Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      It more than doubled their sales compared to the three years of baby-bird production, so I’d say yes. Apparently, it’s what the buying public wanted.

      As for the Corvette, I can’t answer specifically but it may have been a case of there only being enough market room for one domestic two-seater. Chevrolet was in place with the ‘Vette two-years earlier and was perhaps more committed to making the two-seater work than Robert McNamara at Ford was with the Thunderbird.

      JO

      Like 10
  4. jokacz

    One of these 430 MEL powered T-birds finished second in the 1959 Daytona 500 in a photo finish to Lee Petty. And they even raced convertibles.

    Like 7
  5. LeRoy Murray

    Are there receipts verifying 66k miles?

    • Larry Member

      LeRoy-I have documentation showing that the car has 66,501 original miles

  6. Gord

    Most people don’t think of the Square Birds as high performance vehicles – which they aren’t. But what’s interesting is they had a 112 inch wheelbase and 205 inch overall length and could be equipped with the 430 inch 350 hp powertrain. In comparison a 64 GTO had a wheelbase of 115 inches and overall length of 203 inches and came with a 389 inch engine.

    Like 3
  7. Jcs

    While I have never really cared for these square bodies, I must admit that this one is particularly nice.

    Thunderbird always had some of the coolest interiors around IMO, this one is no exception.

    Like 5
  8. Joe Machado

    Corvette never came close to T-Bird sales from 55-60.
    Bird sales doubled from 57 to 58.
    Vette went up 1/3 third.
    Still, Birds outsold Vettes in 57 by almost 3 times.
    Birds sold 4 times more than Vettes in 58.
    1960 saw 9 times more Birds than Vettes.
    So, yes, Ford got it right, and in a recession, example, Edsel.

    Like 3
    • 1Ronald

      Apples and oranges. Two very different markets. Either you liked one or the other or both. But two very different cars.

      Like 6
  9. Anav8r

    I love these things! I had a automatic 352 turquoise ’59 HT that l was rounding up parts for a manual transmission conversion when Uncle Sam decided he needed my services. I sold it before I went in, I guess I’ve been sorry ever since.
    I really like this car, but a black or white top (probably black) would make it much more desirable in my eyes. The tan interior is great, though!

  10. Frank Vranicar

    I have one for sale in Southern California. Red with a new white top and white interior.

    Like 7
    • Larry Member

      Frank-Why not list your car for sale with BarnFinds, instead of hi-jacking my ad?

      Like 6
  11. C5 Corvette

    I’ve had 6 Thunderbirds in the past, but never one of this era. I like it!

  12. Had Two

    The 430 c.i. was the optional Lincoln engine.
    I do not think it was available with a manual transmission.
    The standard engine transmission for the square birds
    was the 352 with a three speed manual, shifter on the
    column. (Overdrive optional)

    Like 1
    • Anav8r

      Yep, and mine was a 352 with the auto. I had located a mast with all the parts, and was looking for a clutch pedal assembly when I decided to sell it before heading to Ft. Knox.

  13. Richard Van Dyke Sr

    I always thought these had one of the coolest looking rear ends of the era with the possible exception of this cute little redhead down the street

    Like 1
  14. JagManBill

    My first car in 1972 was a 60 coupe with the 430. It had power everything and ac. It also had a 2 speed rear end. I never knew the manufacturer of it. I was told it was a Columbia but I only know of those through 48 or so. It kicked in automatically between 95 and 100 mph depending on load. After I went off to college my Dad was driving it and the rear end locked up. The guy who did the work swapped him the whole job and a replacement “standard’ rear axle just for the one in my car.
    And yes I pegged that speedo many times so 140 was quite doable.

    Like 1
  15. Rick

    This particular car doesn’t have the 430 “M-E-L” V8. The M-E-L engines had the center spark plugs separated by the exhaust ports. This car’s engine has the center spark plugs right next to each other, so if this is the original engine it’s the 352 “FE” big block.

    • Morley Member

      Are you sure about this . Having the 430 engine is a big deal. We need the data plate from the door. This is big!!!!

      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        You are correct! I’ll see if I can reach the seller and find out what’s up. He listed it as a 430 engine with us (Barn Finds) as well as on Classic Cars.

        JO

    • Bill McCoskey

      Rick, you are 100% correct, thanks for catching that!

      Like 1
      • Rick

        No problem.
        I should have added that the 430’s valve covers had 6 bolts per bank while there were only 5 for the 352. And, the 430 never had the FORD lettering like that on the 352.

    • David G

      MEL engines all have the Fuel Pump on top of the Timing Chain Cover (forward of the Intake Manifold). That’s gotta be the most distinguishing difference for me..

      • Rick

        Not only that, the oil filter adapter mounting bolts on the MEL run from the front of the engine toward the rear. On the FE they run from the left hand side of the engine toward the right.

        Another difference, like you mentioned, is on the FE the fuel pump sits low on the timing cover, ahead of the oil filter. On the MEL the fuel pump sits top front and center on the timing cover.

  16. Geo

    430’s has black valve covers; no FORD markings on them. Plus the air scoop was connected to a exhaust manifold for hot air… 352’s had yellow valve covers and said FORD on them. So Rick is correct. I had several ‘Birds inc a 59 352 and a black 60 430 with black leather int and a/c… had it up to 130 on I95 once.

  17. Ray

    I would love to see one with the factory sunroof. Saw the entire roof section of one sitting in a junkyard in a small town in MA about 20 years ago, but not the rest of the car! I’ve read about them but have never seen one out in the wild. Suposedly they had a rain sensor that would clise the roof. Sounds pretty high tech for the time.

    Like 2
    • JagManBill

      no rain sensor. Well, it had one behind the wheel. it said rain is hitting your head and your getting wet so you’d better close the stupid sun roof…

      Mine didn’t leak…much. The rubber was not available but Steele Rubber Products made a piece that was dang close so I put it in and the only time it leaked after that was if you hit it directly with the hose on full power. “Regular” rain it didn’t leak.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Ray,

      I had one of these T-birds come in for repairs many years ago. This one was not electrically powered, and it didn’t have an automatic closing panel if it started to rain. I find it interesting to note that of all the ’60 T-birds I’ve seen with sunroofs, all had factory A/C as well.

      What surprised me, when I did the research on the sunroof before trying to work on it, was it’s European basics. These were designed and built by Golde Cie. in West Germany. Golde also built all the steel panel sunroofs used in most 1960s thru 1990s German cars, including VW, BMW, Mercedes, Ford of Germany [Cologne], and more.

      In my research about 30 years ago, I found that while the sunroofs were made in Europe, Ford took the regular roof panel and cut/pressed the opening in cars ordered with sunroofs, and the sunroof assemblies were installed in the USA.

      I don’t remember the exact parts interchange, but many of the cable operating parts and seals were the same as used on my BMW 2002 sunroof! It was also the same basic mechanism that was in my dad’s Mercury Capri sunroof! The major difference was in width, the T-bird panel being much wider side to side than the European cars. I used my BMW 2002 repair manual’s sunroof section to help me as I removed the sunroof panel and made it operational again. It needed cleaning and new grease, because from not being used for years it had become almost impossible to open.

      Like 2
  18. Larry Member

    Update: Correction, this car does not have the 430 engine, but it does have the matching number 352 engine with 66,501 original miles

  19. Jim ODonnell Staff

    To all who noted the issue with the engine under the hood in this Thunderbird, thanks for your input. As Larry has indicated it is a 352 motor and not a 430.

    I have edited the article to reflect as such.

    Great job guys, Thanks!

    JO

  20. Charles Sawka

    One of these is on my “to do “ list. Perhaps I’ll bite the bullet and buy one already done ! Hmmmmmmmm

  21. JonArd

    My dad had a white ’60 TBird – first car I ever drove …and it would do over 120mph … he raced his brother who had a ’62 Corvette … he won when the Vette’s engine blew …

  22. Had Two

    Those Ford 352 engines were very robust!
    A four-barrel Holly carb could be easily mechanically altered
    enabling all four barrels to open at once. Power load the
    automatic transmission by stepping on the brake pedal hard and
    the throttle at the same time, then, when the stop light changed
    release the left foot from the brake and mash the throttle the
    rest of the way to the floor. The Bird would take off like a rocket
    and just keep pulling strong to 120 mph. Having removed the
    factory mufflers and installed Glass Packs, those duel pipes
    would sing all the way to 120.

  23. Geo

    you could get a 60 Starliner with a 360 horse 352… but not in a T-Bird. these engines had factory headers, racing cam and Holly 4150 carb

    Like 1
    • Larry Member

      Geo, funny you should mention that as I have a 1960 Starliner sitting in my old car salvage yard and I used to have a 61 Starliner light weight

    • Joe Sewell

      There is a ’60 Fairlane HiPo 352/360 two door sedan (ex NC ATF car) for sale locally – been on sale for a few decades now – priced at about 3 times what it’s worth IMO. Very nice, low mileage car that still has my attention. If I had the money I would buy and restomod it. Keep the stock appearance but update it as much as possible while keeping the original motor. My dad’s final car was very similar except it had the 292/auto trans and was nicely equipped.

  24. Geo

    does your 60 Star have 360 horse 352… the headers would be a dead giveaway Larry. (By the way 430 T-Birds were J code… fifth character in the serial # )

    • Larry Member

      Geo, the engine was already gone when I got the car

  25. Joe Machado

    Top Fuel drag team owner retired, Glen Parker, my neighbor, has a Lavender 1960 Starliner in immaculate condition. He bought it new in 1959. Still drives it. We neighbors get to gether and have mini car shows in our back yards. Free to join in on the fun

  26. Wayne Paulekas

    The ‘60 T-bird with the back seat was the first car I remember as a child. i vividly remember the speedometer that went to 140 mph, and wondered if Mom could get it to go that fast.
    My brother and I probably dumped at least a half-dozen McDonald’s milkshakes in the back seat, and I still have a scar on my nose when my mother hit the brakes and I flew from the back seat into the original AM radio (remember those seats did not lock in position).
    Mom’s T-Bird was copper-colored, and it was a hardtop, but damn it was a great car!!

  27. Larry Member

    Price has been lowered down to $28,000

    • Larry Member

      Price has even been lowered more down to $26,000. You couldn’t even restore one of these cars for this kind of money!!!

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.