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Funny-Sounding Thunderbird: Veebird Kit Car

If you had been passed by this (apparent) ’57 Thunderbird back in its heyday, you might have noticed an uncharacteristic engine note—coming from the wrong end of the car, no less. That’s because what looks like a T-bird is in fact a Veebird, a clever mashup of the kit car craze and ’50s nostalgia wave of the ’70s, and the Vee in Veebird means it’s based on that gold standard of kit car platforms, the humble Volkswagen. That would explain why this Veebird project car, shared with us by reader Ian C., is listed for sale on VW enthusiast site TheSamba.com! The (negotiable) asking price is just $2,500 and it’s in Sierra Vista, Arizona; let’s take a look.

Image: Jalopnik.com

The effect isn’t totally convincing when bumpers, trim, and the headlight bezels are missing, but as this period Veebird brochure shows, the finished product was a pretty remarkable likeness. An actual Thunderbird windshield was used, as well as Ford taillights; door hardware, instruments, and the steering wheel were VW giveaways.

Most of those pieces seem to be missing from this example, so it’s lucky they won’t be too hard to replace. I wonder if this kit was ever actually completed, or if it’s been unfinished for the last 40 years or so. The Veebird was originally offered from 1977-1980 by a Colorado Springs company, Veebirds, Inc. In 1980, the molds were sold to Bradley Automotive, which promptly filed for bankruptcy protection and, according to the son of the owner of Veebirds, Inc., never paid for them. It is unclear whether any Veebirds were made by Bradley, but it seems only about 10 were made in the original run. If the comments on this article are any indication, either a remarkable percentage of them survive or the actual number was higher.

Veebird boasted that the engine compartment could accommodate “any engine from VW to V-8;” this one has clearly gone the VW route. It seems to be missing a few pieces and probably hasn’t been run in a while—but hey, you never know. This would be the easy part of this project; while the Thunderbird resemblance is strong, I wouldn’t count on Thunderbird pieces actually fitting where this car is missing parts, and good luck finding another Veebird for parts or to make patterns. Still, the seller owns a paint shop and is willing to paint for a new buyer, the porthole-equipped hardtop is included, and the price seems realistic for one of these rare birds. Could you be the one to make this Veebird fly again?

 

Comments

  1. Fred W

    Potential here, problem is, you would pay $2500 for the car which is reasonable, but what will you have to pay for the bumpers and headlight bezels once you find them?

    Like 2
  2. Dave brennan

    Bumpers? We don’t need no stinking bumpers!

    Like 9
  3. Booya

    A curiosity from back when tri-five T-birds were so outrageously expensive, few could dream of owning them. The 70s were the peak of that particular nostalgia cycle. Now, by the time you add original (or repro) T-bird parts and complete the appearance, you’d be near the current price of a driver-level original – one that didn’t sound like a VW.

    Like 4
  4. Maestro1

    It won’t be cheap to get this to the brochure likeness but you’ll have a lot of fun with it.

    Like 1
  5. Ian C

    I wish I had time to build another car because I would be giving a lot of thought to this. If no other reason to show up at an all Ford meet and see how long it takes to get thrown out!

    Like 5
  6. Bruce Jackson

    So, at the risk of sounding biased, I have to dispel comments about a Veebird “sounding like a VW”.
    Now, if we are talking a stock engine and exhaust and roughly 50 HP, then your point is fine.

    However, there are lots of “built” VW engines (I have a modestly-built 1600 cc now 1776 cc in in my Karmann Ghia that puts out 110-120 HP), and coupled with the exhaust, it neither sounds like a stock VW nor does it go like a stock VW…and the engine builds can be very reasonable ($2-3K?). A recent Iron Resurrection (?) episode (last night in fact on Velocity Channel) showed a very primo restoration of a Ghia, and even with a claimed 200+ HP and now 1915 cc’s, when they ran the engine on a stand with the planned exhaust attached, it was still comparatively benign-sounding to me. Point is, you can make the sound and power any way you want it. I have toyed with upgrading my Ghia with a Subie 2.0 Turbo Boxer engine—hold that thought.

    Not sure what the completed weight would be on the Veebird, but my Ghia is only about 1900 lbs, so do the power-to-weight ratio math…the suspension has been stiffened to rival my stock 1990 Miata’s handling, and off-the-line, with a short-throw shifter, the Ghia is quicker (roughly the same power, but less weight = more fun).

    As cool as I think this Veebird is, I would really want the headlight bezels, trim, and I think the bumpers as well. I have a place nearby that sells T-bird parts, but as our author suggests, the original parts might not fit.

    I hate to say it (I am open to ideas from the crowd), but unless I KNEW that I could get the parts that I needed/wanted (and what they would actually cost) I would take a pass on this…which is hard for me to say, because the idea of a VW/T-Bird sounds really neat to me (sorry, I am an old-guy, never heard of the Veebird before, and I use ‘60’s vintage vernacular), and, if I did the Subie Swap in the Ghia, I would have a very nice VW engine to drop into this Veebird…Thoughts from the gallery?

    Like 1
  7. Ikey Heyman Member

    I know some people say it about a Porsche 356, but this is truly “an overpriced VW”.

    Like 0
  8. James HGF

    The Veebird kits were manufactured in Colorado Springs, CO and I dropped by as a curious observer during their modest heyday. I believe the manufacturer’s intent was to produce a quality product, but like so many dreams the reality of market size and manufacturing costs derailed their serious effort. Below is the article Jason Torchinsky wrote for Jalopnik in 2014:

    https://jalopnik.com/this-thunderbird-doesnt-have-what-you-think-under-the-h-1633787716

    Like 1
  9. stillrunners

    Cool…….glad I’m not closer !

    Like 0
  10. Ian McLennan

    As a vintage Thinderbird owner, this thing makes my skin crawl. Haul it to the dump, please.

    Like 0
  11. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    My guess, all the parts to complete someone else’s Vee-Bird were cannibalized from this car years ago. I would guess these days they are unobtainable. Funny, the real 57 Thunderbird basket case from last week could have donated its windshield for this project but alas this Vee-Bird already has an uncracked one!

    Like 0
  12. George

    Go crazy with a 3D printer to take care of missing trim.

    Like 0
  13. Don Pinkal

    I actually have a Veebird in my garage and I was one of the owners of the Veebird company back in the 70’s. I would love to hear from any one that has a Veebird as I am actually looking for some parts. I can also answer any questions about the car. Contact me at don.pinkal@gmail.com

    Like 0
    • Schneider Stefan

      Hello Don, I also have a Veebird in the garage that I bought from a Dutchman. If you are interested in information you can contact me via email at schneis@web.de. Regards, Stefan

      Like 0

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