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Space Age ‘Bird: 1963 Ford Thunderbird Coupe

The Ford Thunderbird began its long production run as a competitor to the Corvette in 1955. Now, before everyone jumps on me saying the T-Bird was no sports car: you are sort of right. It was designated a personal luxury car, but it had two seats, a convertible top, and a frisky V8 motor. Ford felt that differentiating the car away from the Corvette by emphasizing its comfort would help sales, and that turned out to be absolutely correct. The Thunderbird outsold the Corvette 23 to 1 in 1955. Customers loved the Thunderbird so much that they began asking for a four-seater; that wish was granted in 1958. In 1961, the “bullet bodied” T-Bird was introduced, with turbine-shaped fenders and a wrap-around feeling in the cockpit. This styling was retained for three model years. Here on eBay, we have an example from the last year of the third generation T-Bird, a 1963 coupe, bid to $4,600, reserve met. This car is located in Punta Gorda, Florida.

The motor Ford chose for the third generation T-Bird was its Ford-Edsel big block 390 cu. in. V8. This motor was essentially a bored and stroked 352; in fact, many 390s have “352” cast into the block. A four-barrel Holley carburetor accompanied the motor. This pairing produced 300 bhp. (A 340 bhp version called the Sports 8, with three two-barrel carbs, was also available.) The transmission was a three-speed automatic, called the Cruise-O-Matic. The seller indicates that this car runs and drives well; mileage is quoted at 51,000. It has a new fuel tank and exhaust. The new owner could aim to improve the underhood appearance to factory specs – not an easy chore but worth it.

The interior offers an opportunity for improvement also. Both the front and back seats need work and the carpets should be replaced. The dash is dirty but does not appear to be cracked. There’s lots of aluminum in the cockpit, so lay in a supply of Blue Magic Metal Polish (my favorite, but hey, feel free to chime in with your preference). The car has a telescoping steering wheel, but no other options. That affects value because these cars were available with plenty of luxury options – including power seats, power windows, and air conditioning.

The underside is dirty but not overly rusty. The seller also indicates the car has a few rust spots coming through the paint on various panels. It’s hard to tell from the photos how the chrome looks; the light lenses look good at least. This car offers a great opportunity to drive a stylish car, restoring components over time. And at least for the moment, the price is right!


  1. Moparman Member

    Wow! The same car posted twice on the same day by two different writers?!? Perhaps a little cross referencing is needed; at any rate, interesting to get two different observations!! :-)

    Like 4
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    I think you mean to say “Swing-away” steering wheel, not telescoping?

    The headliner is missing, and someone has installed some shoulder belts. The flat black paint on the engine etc. does not inspire confidence.

    Like 6
  3. Cadmanls Member

    It’s down here with the heat and humidity, no air? Think this may have moved down from a little further north and looks like it’s on a dealer lot. Could be a decent builder, but not here

    Like 3
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    I think I’ve seen this one before……

    Like 9
  5. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    This reminds me of the time I drove 540 miles in South Africa to purchase a 1959 Square Bird only to find when I arrived at the sellers farm that he had gone fishing for the weekend, and wouldn’t even tell his farm manager where he was going. In retrospect I don’t think that he owned the car, I think he was just storing it along with several other classics, but was just one of those bullshi**ers that populate this classic car movement.

    Like 4
  6. 86 Vette Convertible

    The potential rust in the lower quarter panels and possibly below the doors would concern me. If the rust was taken care of, it could be an interesting car.

    Like 1

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