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Squarebird Ahoy: 1959 Ford Thunderbird

1959 Ford Thunderbird

I have fond memories of motorboating around in my uncle’s 1960 Thunderbird. Why do I call it “motorboating”? Several reasons, not the least of which are the low burbling sounds at idle through the dual exhausts and the smooth ride. Most striking of all was the feeling that any steering input was like sending a message to the boiler room—the car would eventually change direction, but it sure took some time to do it! It was a lot of fun. Before I was born, my father also had a 1959 ‘Bird, white with a red and white interior, and lived in New York – this can’t be his car though, as the seller states that it was purchased from the original owners. This 1959 version is available in Riverhead, New York and is for auction here on eBay with the reserve not yet met.

Thunderbird fins

The seller’s pictures fit right in with my boating thoughts as they obviously used a marina as a backdrop. The car is claimed to be a true barn find and was stored for 28 years. Based on the lack of visible rust on the exterior of the body, it must have been a pretty solid barn. Chrome appears decent and the Wimbledon White paint is pretty shiny. I really like that color; it’s so evocative of the times this car came from.

Red and white interior

I love the interior! The seller doesn’t state replacement upholstery, so I’m hoping this is original. There’s some wear to be sure, but not enough that one couldn’t enjoy the car just as it is. And the knee and thigh-bruising wrap-around windshield point is just the way I remember it on my uncle’s car; you have to be careful getting in and out despite the huge doors.

Wrap around windshield

A replacement dash is noted in the ad; it certainly seems to fit nicely. I couldn’t tell what the aftermarket gauge below the dash is even after blowing up the picture, but I feel that it’s an indicator of an owner who cared enough about their car to want to know what was going on under the hood. Although mileage is not noted, the wear on the steering wheel certainly indicates it’s been driven over the years.

352 V8

And speaking of under the hood, that’s one of the special things about this car. The original 352 cubic inch V-8 has been equipped with a new intake manifold and carburetor. I realize this may offend some purists, but the idea of improving drivability with new induction components appeals to me. The car is said to be a good driver now, with the owner also having recently replaced the tires, brakes, front suspension components, and the exhaust system.

I’ve talked with my Mom and the details match my Dad’s car, although I’m sure there were a lot of 1959 Thunderbirds out there with this color scheme and an automatic, and this one was supposedly purchased from the original owners. But I’ll be watching this auction closely, nonetheless. Any of you interested as well?


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Well, I called the seller and got the serial number…but I don’t think my Mom has any record of Dad’s car. The “from original owner” is what the seller was told when he purchased the car.

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  2. Mark E

    If I was gonna buy a squarebird, I’d want a 1960 convertible just because the doctor who delivered my sister drove one! ^_^

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  3. jim s

    these were real nice highway cars back then. have a lot of miles, but not as the driver, in one that was a few years newer and had the swing-away steering wheel. needs a PI, looking for rust on the underside. be nice if it was your dads car and you could buy it. great find.

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  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    Although the Small Birds will always be my favorite, the Square Birds are second. I never cared for the Round Birds that happened in ’61 although I seem to be in a minority. I hope the new owner has a good time with this one.

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  5. Paul B

    I’m no particular fan of American iron of this period, but I have always liked these ’58-’60 T-birds in a perverse sort of way. They exemplify an imaginative and fanciful era in car design without being too totally insane. They do have a certain elegance to them. I won’t be a customer for this, but it’ll be a great buy for the right person. I’ also not about to criticize Detroit’s swoopy lines too much, since I hang out with a French crowd whenever possible. Panhard’s Bionier was as much influenced by U.S. designs as he was by Art Nouveau and Deco. I looked at some early proposal sketches for the Panhard 24 and they clearly used the ’58 T-bird headlamp treatment and beltline sculpturing as a styling source. You can see traces of it, plus Corvair influence, in the final design.

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  6. Paul B

    Panhard 24 at far right.

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  7. guggie

    nice ride always lied square birds . ebay pictures show the trunk wich is less than stellar , maybe it was used as a boat . red flag 4 me !! ( flood vehicle ) look at the level of the rust on the spare tire .

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  8. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    You need a platinum blonde in a skin-tight cocktail dress with a beehive hairdo in the driver’s seat. Light up a Parliament and off you go!

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  9. julian

    Rex: Yes… I need a platinum blond in a skin tight cocktail dress. Nothing else to say.

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  10. Sid Member

    “Most striking of all was the feeling that any steering input was like sending a message to the boiler room—the car would eventually change direction, but it sure took some time to do it!”
    That is the funniest description I have ever heard in reference to a car.

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    • St. Ramone de V8

      Ya, love that. I was going to comment on it. Gonna use it some day!

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  11. haig haleblian

    I’d rather have a bad ideas t shirt chick. I’m sure that won’t work from her side!

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  12. Kenzo

    My favorite bird of all time. Drop top # 1 and hard top # 2 on my list.
    Best design ever except maybe the 57 Ford Ranch Wagon and Ranchero.

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  13. Gary

    Bought a dingy white 1960 square bird back in the early ’70s from a young lady for a $20 bill, it had broken down at her Apt. complex and she had to get it sold fast or it would be towed.
    All it really needed was a tune up and new Battery. Drove it as a daily driver for about a year, never had a bit of trouble with it in that time. Of all the T-Birds made I also like the square birds best.

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  14. Woodie Man

    As a young college student I bought a 1960 Triple light squarebird for $250.00. Same white with red interior. I loved that car. It was cherry and original. And only 14 years old at the time though fourteen years earlier seemed like the stone ages to me. Kinda funny now. Drove it up and down the East Coast a couple of times between home and school on vacations. Had a blast. Sold it to buy a ’65 Cadillac. By the way if memory serves me correctly those are the heating controls in the round bexel under the dash. I could see owning one of these again.

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  15. Cameron Bater UK

    These, in England, are known as “Land Yaghts” there was a guy who used to live local to myself and he had a drive full of these and other similar cars. He was known as the Motorway Marina”

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  16. Rancho Bella

    Square Birds can be made to handle fairly well………….. They are comfortable and as others mentioned and a great highway cruiser.
    They sit low which is a plus. New Detroit Eaton springs all around with some Bilsteins.
    Redo all steering bits, which is very cheap. Disk brake kits are available.
    Luv em’

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  17. RickyM

    Love that first photograph at the top of this article – beautiful !

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  18. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    $6,200 with two days to go and 30 bids so far–stronger bidding than I would have expected :-) Get featured in Barn Finds, watch your bids go up!

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  19. Curt Wilson

    My dad owned a 1960 convertible Square Bird . According to my aunt, she took this picutre when he drove the car back to his home town of Rawley IA. from Spokane, WA. He was stationed at Farichild Airforce base for a couple years out of High School before he joined the Washington State Patrol. I was born out here in the Northwest and it’s been my dream to own this car every since I first laid eyes on this picture.

    I found the exact car on line a couple years back restored to mint condition. It had just sold for $17,000 I believe. I would have paid that for it. Can’t listen to Marc Cohn’s song “Silver Thunderbird” without thinking of him sitting in this thing. “I can see him sitting there in all that chrome, the man with the plan and the pocket comb.”


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  20. Curt Wilson

    Here’s the photo of the one I found online that had just sold. She’s a beauty!

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Nice photos. Gotta love those old Square Birds…

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Curt, thanks for sharing–great story and pictures!

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    • Don

      Until I saw THIS photograph, I, always, thought my favorite T-Bid, was the 1960 hardtop. The
      gorgeous color, however, may have something to do with how in love I am, with this Ford!

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  21. Woodie Man

    Great pix of your Dad and the car…..dreams are made from pictures like that!

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  22. Desmond Yazzie

    Just bought Grandpas old 1959 Thunderbird. Its been sitting in the car port rust free for over 20 years. Cant wait to fire her up.

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