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One-Owner 31k Mile 1972 Ford Thunderbird 429

It’s hard to believe that Ford built its one-millionth Thunderbird in 1972, just 17 years after all the excitement began with a 2-seater. What the car had evolved to was vastly different than how it started out. Besides seating for at least twice as many people, the wheelbase was extended by 18%, the car itself was 29% longer, and it was 67% heavier. But, by the early 1970s, most everything Detroit built was bigger than it used to be. This 1972 Ford Thunderbird is described by the seller (a dealer) as a “time capsule”, and that description seems quite fair. How does one buy a car like this and drive it only 31,000 miles in 48 years? Interested parties can find this T-Bird in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and here on eBay, where the untested starting bid is $7,500 with no reserve. So, the car might just sell for that amount. Our thanks to Elliott Espinosa for sending this tip our way!

The 1972 Ford brochures said it all “more than a car…more Thunderbird than ever.” Boy, they weren’t kidding! Thunderbird #1 million was built in June 1972 at Ford’s assembly plant near Los Angeles, California. It was gussied up more than most T-Birds to signify the special occasion (the whereabouts of that car today are unknown to us). At nearly 58,000 units, Thunderbird sales were up 60% over 1971. Cars like this were in big demand in the early 1970s and people didn’t much care about the gas mileage until the OPEC Oil Embargo of 1973, after which it was hard to sell gas hogs like the big T-Bird.

There is little history provided on the seller’s car because they are a dealer. Like where has this car been all its life and who kept it in this remarkable condition? Knowing that would be a huge selling point in my book. But we are told the mileage has averaged less than 700 per year and the car was kept covered during “her” lifetime (car cover outside or a garage?) by its only previous owner. If you were to rate the body and paint on a scale of 1 to 10, this looks like at least a 9.5, discounted for a couple of minor blemishes. Once you open the doors, you’ll enter a universe of comfort and convenience that you’d have to buy a Lincoln Mark series car to beat. P.S. as you scroll through the photos, is it just me or does the seller have his camera lens on a funky setting? The car kind of looks like it’s in a fishbowl!

We’re told there’s a 429 cubic inch V-8 under the hood, the middle of three engines that you could get in the T-Bird that year. It produces 212 net horsepower with a 4-barrel Motorcraft carburetor and single exhaust system (!).  With a compression ratio of 8.5:1, it should run on regular gasoline. The only transmission choice was an automatic, of course. The brakes have been completely redone and all the original parts were saved in case the next owner collects that sort of stuff. The seller says the car is 98% original “right down to the belts”, which doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy. I’d be planning to replace almost anything rubber on the car to compensate for age – and that won’t be cheap.

People aren’t racing to pay big bucks for these large automobiles. Hagerty thinks that $19,000 is about the top dollar for a ’72 T-Bird. So, if just one bidder comes to the table, they would be getting a bargain, relatively speaking. These are beautiful machines, but you’ll need your own gas station if you plan to drive this car a lot.


  1. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    I love the color.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

      Ha! Rex, I was about to make a similar comment. I wouldn’t want this color on a new car, but it’s great on a 70’s car.

      These big T-Birds and Marks are terrific representations of their era. This is a nice example. The early small-bumper models look the best. One could have a fun cruiser for not much money.

      Like 9
  2. Avatar photo GTPRED99 Member

    As of 2010, the millionth Thunderbird was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    Like 6
  3. Avatar photo Barzini

    It will be right a home in a Quinn Martin Production.

    Like 26
    • Avatar photo shan_paramus

      Right next to Frank Cannon’s Mark IV & Barnaby Jones’ Mercury Marquis…

      Like 4
      • Avatar photo Ted-M

        Barnaby Jones drove decked out LTD’s!

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo 1-MAC

        McGarrett had the black Mercury marquis on Hawaii 5-0

        Like 6
      • Avatar photo John Oliveri

        To my recollection, Barnaby drove a LTD, both Cannon and Barnaby had sunroof cars at one point

        Like 3
  4. Avatar photo W9BAG

    I’ve had a ’76 and a ’97. Both very dependable and head turners.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo Gary

    I have owned 4 Lincolns in my 63 years on this earth. A black 66, a ’77 and ’78 Mark 5. The last one was a gold ’85 Town car. I loved them all. They were excellent cars.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Patrick Farmer

    The vinyl top with the hearst decoration has to go. This the first year model after the Bunkie Beak front end. Either leave the chrome or remove it, paint the car all one dark color, put 18″ torque thrusts on it. People will lose there Gawk Darn minds. Also, win the lottery and upgrade the engine to a huge cid Jon Kaase BOSS NINE, make sure the drivetrain can take and some big butt brakes, it will be COOOOOOOOL!

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo John Oliveri

    I’d put Spokes and Vogues on it, nice pinstripes, have a moonroof installed, get a grille cap, and a Continental kit for the back, TV antenna, cruise w my 70s R&B and Disco on, gotta put an 8 track in it

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Dean thrush

    These do ride nice love the big ford boat,s. Had 2 of these 72,s that 429 for some reason it liked to rust from inside out and loose freeze plugs if i remember right the brake rotors were a 1yr only rotor for the bird and the Lincoln mark those 2 models only something changed for 73 and up were interchangable but if you had the leather seats and used lemon pledg to clean them you could have people sliding all over the back seats they didn’t have armor all yet

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo John Oliveri

      Used to
      Pledge the dashboard, console and black part of the tires

      Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Stilbo

    If someone gets it for $7500 they stole it…
    Having owned a ‘72 Torino Sport Roof, this Big Bird (It’s close enough to Big Bird’s color) appears to be built on the same intermediate platform as the Torino.
    I’d want someone to do a smell test before buying and shipping it to the Midwest though.
    The hood liner has definitely seen rodent families and if those critters were living there, they likely found access to every other nook and cranny in the car..

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo FordGuy1972 Member

    My cousin had a ’72 T-Bird, white with a blue vinyl top and blue interior. A beautiful car with all the bells and whistles. I drove it a few times and loved it. Lost it when she took the ditch driving home in a snow storm in Northern Aroostook County, Maine.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Patrick Curran

    It wouldn’t be my first choice of color if I was ordering one new back in the day, but to each his/her own. I thing the wire wheel covers are from a different year. Can anyone confirm?

    Like 0

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