Mind the Beak: 1971 Ford Thunderbird

Edsel, Pontiac, and AMC have nothing on this nose! I think even Barbra Streisand is a little jealous. Beyond the protruding proboscis, these four door Birds are unique and worthy collectibles. Huge V8, room for all your friends, suicide doors, and Thunderbird heritage for only $5000 OBO sounds like a great deal. Find this triple green 1971 Ford Thunderbird in San Matteo, CA here on Craigslist.

For five years, potential Thunderbird buying prospectives had the choice of more than two doors. Positioned above the LTD but below the Lincoln Continental and new Mark III, the bigger bird combined both luxury and sport in a family sized package. Always thought the standard landau bar helped cover up the odd rear door opening and makes a great conversation piece when combined with the reverse opening doors. The paint and vinyl roof looks tired, rust and rust repair is seen along the bottom of the car, but overall this looks like a nice original example. Funny how more doors doesn’t usually translate into more money.

It’s about time color keyed wheels and green paint make a come back. This car looks dent free and the chrome looks complete, if a little dull. Equally unique as the nose, the full width tailights have ten light bulbs to fully light up red from side to side. And the turn signals were still sequential in 1971! Why can’t non sports cars have these unique features today? Only thing detracting from such a clean design is the rear bumper guards. Not shown, the well running 429 Thunder Jet with 4 barrel carb and 360 horsepower means you won’t be a stranger to fuel stations, but you won’t be embarrassed by a new Yaris either.

Inside you’ll find plenty of fake wood, lots of gauges, room for six, high back front seats, power everything, and very plush cloth and vinyl upholstery. Hard to tell if the door panels are black or green, but either way they look scar free. The driver seat cloth looks a different shade than the back seat, but both are tear free and look like you could sink into them. The interior looks a bit dirty and the dash pad might be warped, but the worn period floor mats are a nice touch and show careful ownership. Nothing irritates me more than to see a great original car and someone has thrown away the floor mats. Why?! Just put them in the trunk if you are ashamed of them! I’ll clean them up and use them! These four doors will likely never bring big bucks or get the same attention as more sporting Thunderbirds, but with room for all your friends and their stuff, and a tire smoking big block, you’ll have a new nose for all to envy.


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  1. jw454

    According to the advertisement it looks more like 5K or best offer to me. The mis-matched paint at the rear quarter panels gives me pause to think what may be under it. California or not this may not the the rock solid ride it appears to be.

  2. Steve R

    It’s always nice when the seller has a different price listed in the ad and the ads header. It suggests the car has been for sale for awhile.

    I grew up in that area, the rust repairs pointed out in the write up would not be typical for cars that spent their life in that area, it suggests the car might not be local. A look at the license plates would be helpful.

    I’d pass on this car, there are better land yachts from that era that can be had for around the same money.

    Steve R

  3. Craig

    love the ‘Bunkie’s Beak’ in honor of Bunkie Knudsen, the executive responsible for this (and the BOSS 429!).

    Triple green, though….would take a real green lover

  4. CanuckCarGuy

    My dream car! I have a triple green ’71 F100 Ranger XLT and would love to pair it with this TBird.

  5. Miguel

    While I love the suicide doors on this car, I really love the back seat of a two door version of this car.

    In this four door version the back seat if flat while the two door version has a curve to it which screams luxury to me.

  6. Dave

    I had a ’71 bird, red with black sport roof, black interior, bucket seats with console.
    Haven’t seen one like it since.
    Wish I still had it.

  7. fish56

    Notice in the one photo in the listing, seller’s finger blocks the view of the open driver’s door. In another distanced pic with the door closed, you can see some kind of damage there. Wonder if it’s just a dent or some rust-thru on the door’s edge. Sneaky…

  8. Davey

    Without a doubt this has got to be the ugliest T-Bird Ford ever pooped out of the assembly line. Henry would roll in his coffin. Horrible design style!!!!

  9. tominnc

    My mother had this exact car. We would take the back seat out and shove my Honda 70 in the back, also first car I ever drove before my time, hit a drainage ditch and tore up a tire… Blamed that on my sister. Great memory

  10. Rex Kahrs Member

    Who is this “Always”, and why did he think the standard landau bar helped cover up the odd rear door opening?

    • Corey Kemendo Member

      That would be me and the back door has an odd shape and I think the landau bar helps to make it work by hiding the awkwardness when the door is closed. If it wasn’t there, the numerous angles would stand out further. Just my opinion, for better or worse.

  11. kenzo

    I believe you are incorrect in your statement “unique and worthy collectables” unless you are collecting entries for the next demo derby.
    If the price came down to about $1500 it would be on the high edge of a great deal. For 5 grand here on the west coast of Canada there is some great deals.
    Just my opinion.

  12. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    In the late 60s, Henry Ford the 2nd hired away Semon “Bunkie” Knutson from GM. The first thing Bunkie did was turn the T-Bird into an extreme Pontiac.
    Bunkie was the son of William Knutson, who helped build Ford, but had a falling out with the old man Henry Ford, and went to Chevrolet, vowing to get back at Ford, which he did, as William over a few decades built GM in to the largest company in the world. However, his Bunkie lasted less than two years, and was fired by Henry the 2nd because he was too ambitious. Remember, it was Henry Ford who famously said, “history is bunk”, so it was only fitting that decades later that the one could say about Williams son “Bunkie is history”.

  13. Tony C. Australia

    Well at least it sure stands out from all the Japanese styled bubble shaped crap on the streets around it, as for the ‘beak’, if you’re gonna make a statement make sure it’s a BIG one, I’m sure it saved a lot of parking dings in it’s day from the ‘plastic brigade’ who wouldn’t have a clue where the front or rear of their cars start or finish. With my 2006 300C hemi, God only knows where the front is when I’m in it, it’s got parking sensors in the rear, they should have put them in the front as well, or maybe a small camera.

    • Metoo

      Australia? Buy it, have it shipped there, remove the trunk lid and call it a ute.

  14. Miguel

    I really like this body style. Too bad it didn’t have covered headlights.

    The odder the car looks, the more I like it.

    When you drive this down the street, all eyes are on you, for better or worse.

  15. Troy s

    Heard he was fired because he never knocked on Henry’s door, he just barged on in like he owned the place. Made Lee Iacoca’s day to hear of that man getting the ax.

  16. Nova Scotian

    If needed, I’d buy for the drivetrain. The body shape doesn’t do much for me. But a modern paint scheme or decal with an actual beak emblazoned on that nose would garner attention, bad and good! Lol.

  17. Mark Evans

    Suicide doors on these & Lincolns make these more desirable than their 2 door brethren. Funky & Cool.IMHO

    • Metoo

      Suicide doors on a 71 anything seems unusual. Did any cars have them beyond that year?

  18. SSPBill

    I also have some memories of one of these. My Grandfather had a blue one. When we visited my brother and I would argue over who sat next to our drunk uncle in the back seat when the 2 of them drug us to the dog track outside of Tampa. Man that guy stank.

    I can recall that car effortlessly generated speed. It wasn’t quick, it just kept going faster. Love that torque.

  19. Lion

    I worked at a hospital in the 70s and our Radiologist (well paid Dr.) owned one of these 4doors and loved it. One day he showed up in a new car and I asked where is the Tbird ?
    He cried about some guy had T boned him and insurance wrote it off. It was the only time I saw him angry.

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