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Unfinished Business: 1962 Ford Thunderbird

The third generation of the Ford T-Birds were introduced for 1961 and their shape had space age qualities about them. A big departure from the “Squarebirds” of 1958-60. The car would gain a lot of attention very quickly as it served as the pace car for the 1961 Indianapolis 500 and was part of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade. This 1962 Thunderbird sport coupe is a project that needs someone to finish. The interior looks good, and the engine has been rebuilt, but the body is going to require some attention. Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, this Bird is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,800. Another tip from Larry D!

Thunderbirds for 1961-63 would be noted for several firsts in the car business. For example, they debuted the highly promoted “swing away” steering wheel. With the automatic transmission in Park, the wheel would slide 18 inches to the right, permitting easier entrance and exist for the driver. They also had a “floating” rear view mirror and came with power steering and brakes, back up lights and bucket seats as standard equipment. The 1962 T-Birds saw production increase by about 5,000 units to 78,000, which would include 68,000 sport coupes like the seller’s car.

This 1962 looks like a stalled effort that needs a nudge. The 390 cubic inch V8 been pulled and rebuilt, but not reinstalled. Which sounds reasonable for a car with a reported 105,000 miles. While we only see a photo of any empty engine compartment, the seller says that an Edelbrock medium rise intake manifold has joined the equation. Could this be the optional “M-code” 340-horsepower 390 with three Holley two-barrel carburetors. They were rare at only 145 in 1962. This T-Bird comes with the optional swing away steering wheel previously mentioned, along with a Cruise-O-Matic transmission.

The seller has advertised this car for his parents who don’t use Facebook. It’s a two-owner car that was once red on the outside but looks to be mostly primer now. There is rust in a few places to be dealt with, such as the rocker panels and the piece below the rear window. Fortunately, it’s been garage kept which may have kept it from rusting further. The interior looks really nice and should clean up with perhaps the carpeting needing the most attention, but not entirely. The fender skirts are in the trunk, which may include some other parts as well.

Sources such as Hagerty suggest these cars are worth in the mid-thirties in prime condition, with Fair being closer to $5,000 which likely describes the seller’s car. These are cool old autombiles, but I understand that the wiring of all the electric doodads can sometimes be troublesome. If the rust isn’t more prevalent than what we see, perhaps this project won’t be a huge headache to complete.


  1. Steve Clinton

    “…the body is going to require some attention.”
    You pays your money and you takes your chances.

    Like 1
  2. gaspumpchas

    The rot you can see is troublesome. In this condition, I’d be hard pressed to give more than a grand. These plain jane bullet birds never really took off in value. That rust around the window is scary, what can the rest of it be worth?
    Good luck and stay safe.

    Like 3
  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    So why does that rear window look wrong (to me)? Just does not seem right.

    Like 1
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Shouldn’t there be some kind of molding or gasket along the bottom edge?

      Like 1
  4. MarkC

    About 3 years ago at was at a local auction in Idaho where there were several teen of these vintage cars. They were going for scrap prices but I didn’t have room at the time. I also had a auto AC shop in Phoenix in the late 80s and remember replacing vacuum hoses behind the dash– there was a few miles of hose on the switch assembly for all the vents. Speaking of vents, one of the ball type Outlet weight about 16 lb I think. I still have some of the bumperettes that would seem to weigh a few hundred pounds each but that’s just cuz I’m old and tired. Actually these cars weighed about three tons didn’t they?

    Like 1

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