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Go Green: 1971 Ford Thunderbird

Ford’s brochure for the 1971 Thunderbird stated “Thunderbird people have one thing in common — they’re uncommon.” I can’t say which definition of “uncommon” was their intent here, but I do know definition #1 does apply to the frequency of 1971 Ford Thunderbird write-ups here on BarnFinds. The last time we featured a 1971 Thunderbird of any kind was more than 4 years ago and you haven’t seen a two-door Landau featured since 2015. I found this example here on Craigslist in Herndon VA for $8,500.

1971 was the 5th and final model year of the 5th generation Thunderbird. A seemingly stale design at this point, sales dropped nearly 30% from 1970 with total production coming in at 36,055 units. There were 3 distinct Thunderbird body styles available in 1971 — a 2-door hardtop, a 2-door Landau (as seen here), and a 4-door hardtop. The 2-door Landau, like the car featured here, was the most popular choice with 20,356 having been built.

The 1967-1971 Thunderbirds were known as the “Glamour Bird.” The nickname was, at the least, fitting for the image Ford intended for them to project. This is my favorite styling of all 11 generations of Thunderbird and this one is in good driver-quality condition. The original dark green paint and matching dark green vinyl top have this Thunderbird looking a lot like one of the 1971 promo cars. The paint is original and looks ok but rust is visible in the rocker panels and rear quarters. The seller notes corrosion “under the doors.” I’m a fan of the full-width tail lights with sequential turn signals.

Inside you’ll find even more green, with bench seating up front. 12,223 of the 1971 two-door Landaus were equipped with a bench seat like this one. Seating surfaces, dash, and door panels are all in good condition. Several driving comfort options were standard, like power steering, power front disc brakes, and the SelectShift Cruise-O-Matic transmission. I find the symmetrical dash layout and woodgrain insets visually appealing.

Powering this 4,600 lb. behemoth is a 360 HP 429 cubic-inch engine that sends power to the rear wheels from a column-shifted automatic transmission. We’re given no insight into its running condition but the seller tells us the engine and transmission are “in good condition.”

A glamour bird is on my bucket list of cars. I prefer the 4-door cars but wouldn’t pass on either of the 2-door designs. Do you think this is an overlooked classic that flies under the radar? Or are they in their proper place being “uncommon” today?


  1. Avatar photo JCA Member

    69,000 miles. Nice

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo theGasHole

      “If you’re really us, what number are we thinking of”–Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Not every car turns out to be a high-dollar collectible. Certain cars like fifth generation Thunderbirds fit this scenario. For all the hue and cry about the hobby being out of control financially, here is a car which isn’t perfect but is still attractive. The deep green theme is classy. Plenty of power. Nice interior. Low miles. Would be a fine cruiser for not much money.

    So, I guess we should be thankful lower-popularity old cars exist.

    Thanks Jonny.

    Like 27
    • Avatar photo Stan

      Agreed Bob 👍Cheap(er) Cheerful Cruiser.

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo SirRaoulDuke

      Agreed, this is a lot of cool for the money.

      Like 7
      • Avatar photo Joe

        Exactly! You don’t need to own something that has to be the most valuable car on the planet to have fun.

        Like 7
    • Avatar photo Joe

      Exactly! You don’t need to own something that has to be the most valuable car on the planet to have fun.

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo James Quinn

      A big block car for under 10K. I bought my big block Cougar four years ago for under 20. I’m glad I did because I wouldn’t be able to affort it today.

      Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Bick Banter

    I too prefer the 4-door. This is so uncommon it would probably cause an accident near where you drove it. I’m glad we’re not calling it a sleeper!

    Like 3
  4. Avatar photo BA

    Love this car as well, what a sweet cruiser & whenever i see a 429 let there be no doubt a little visit to Summit or Jegs for some long tube headers , edlebrock aluminum heads & Holley sniper EFI with intake would make you the king down at Steak & Shake ! Yes that’s still a thing down south here. Did I mention the bench sit would work wonders for a relationship? This car is a winner, winner , chicken dinner !

    Like 7
  5. Avatar photo Harvey Member

    They are giving it away.

    Like 4
  6. Avatar photo William Maceri

    The Ford Thunderbird is one of my all time favorites. My number one favorite Thunderbird goes to the 1957 model year. My second favorite goes to the 1970, and 71. I like those so much I actually owned one. Mine was a dark gold 2 door fastback with a black vinyl top , over black cloth interior, 1970. I still think they are beautiful luxury cars. These Thunderbirds really earned the name “Glamor Birds” the exterior lines were elegant and bold. The 70, and 71s had another nickname, the ” Binkie Beak Birds. They, along with other Fords wore the beak looking style grill, which also pays tribute to “Benkie knewston, who at the time headed up all Ford styling at the time. He actually started at GM, then after WWll, ended up at Ford Motor Company. I always thought it fit the Thunderbird name, although not every one would agree. The full width taillights with sequential turn indicators was a Thunderbird thing that first appeared on the 64, model year. They were clearly ahead of their time. Just ask the designers at Audi, where they can be found today. The 429 cubic inch engine was smooth and powerful, however it only could get 8 to 10 mpg and, due to the 73 oil crisis, the 429 big block was not the car to have. The elegant interior at least made sitting on lines at gas stations here in Southern California very comfortable and plush. The dashboard was beautifully finished with round gauges surrounded by very nice woodgrain trim. The backseat was almost decident, the seat backs curved to meet the sides of the backseat. Very cool. The Thunderbird windshield wipers were controlled hydraulically, driven by the power steering pump. I was very reliable, and could be adjusted to various speeds by turning a knob on the dash. The Glamor Birds hold a great place in automotive history, which I’m sure will never see the likes of again. Even though the 70s were a very dark time for the Big Three, it didn’t stop Ford from building some really great looking cars, I really like. Thanks for your excellent review of the Glamor Birds.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Fitz Member

      Bunkie Beak. Bunkie Knudsen. Give me a 2 door hardtop in anything but Green…

      Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Big C

    I saw a car exactly like this one at the Ford Nationals at Carlisle a couple weeks ago. The owner wasn’t around and they were asking $12,500. This is a screaming deal.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Jay McCarthy

      The wheel covers were designed to mimic a front wheel drive look

      Like 3
  8. Avatar photo Dead_Garry

    To me this is peak Thunderbird, while not the “prettiest” exterior (I do love the 2-dr w/o a vinyl roof) that back seat is pure awesomeness!

    Reminds me of a Vegas lounge booth, get in and enjoy the show :D

    The front bench just caps this as a fantastic cruiser

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo David Nelson

      IMHO, the T-Bird interiors went downhill beginning in 1968, I think it was. Gone were the front chrome surrounded bucket seats and swooping consoles!

      Like 1
  9. Avatar photo 62 linc

    I had a 71 landau like this in blue. Very good car and got very decent mileage for the time. Exhaust pipes ran white. Plugs were always white showing a lean burn. Mine had cloth bench and every option except sunroof. These cars just disappeared quickly it seems. The 429 and C6 were a tough combo. I would MUCH prefer the standard hardtop with rear quarter windows and no vinyl top.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo OldsMan

    I’ve always liked the 70-71 TBird’s -not a fan of the Landau roof though… As a kid we always thought the wraparound backseat looked pretty cool -it’s hard to believe this car was only 5” longer than a Grand Prix

    Like 2
  11. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    I’m surprised they sold any of these 2 door Landau’s, with such a terrible blind spot in the passenger sail panel – good luck changing lanes to the right! – & no mirror on the passenger door makes things only worse – i would drive this only in the rightmost slow lane on busy roads!
    The other avail t-bird 2 door with quarter windows by the back seat is a “better idea” & IMO a better looking t-bird.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Blake, does my opinion really matter ???

      Did you not ride in the back sear of any PLC.s in the 70’s? Blind spots were a given and forgiven for that fashionable landau top treatment. The 78 Diamond anniversary and 79 Heritage editions of the T-bird always grated my ass. Let’s take a car with decent blind spot visibility and block them back side windows off with a tacky vinyl roof cap and destroy the look and visibility. I always have, and always will, hate the diamond jubilee and heritage versions of the 78-79 birds because of that tacky toupee ford cursed them with. Ruined the look in my opinion, never mind rear visibility. A showroom fresh 77-79 T-bird has been on my bucket list for 40+ years now. Give me a well optioned base model please.

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo OldManBlues

    Just missing a 671 sticking out of the hood…

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo Jay jay

    I have the identical t bird as shown in pics. 119 k miles and runs perfect. The car will run past the 120 and still feel solid. The heavy car is not fast from a standing start but really moves after about 40 mph. So does the gas gauge. Would consider selling as I have just finished a 61′ t bird show car and am off to a 65′ ford n 600 truck. The rear seat is luxurious.

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Blake, does my opinion really matter ???

    BTW, the ‘glamour’ birds were the 64-67 models. These Birds were the Bunkie or ugly piggish birds. Will say my four door Bird ruled the highway before it was killed. (permanently plucked, I guess???) regardless, it was an awesome highway flyer and I miss it to this day. The suicide doors always fascinated folks during its very frequent fill ups of fuel. Big birds need lots and lots of birdseed! I was lucky to get 11 mpg going downhill. 7-8 mpg was the norm.

    Like 0

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