Unfinished Project: 1961 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

While some of the ‘heavy lifting’ has been completed on this 1961 Ford Thunderbird convertible, there’s still a fair portion to go. Luckily, that’s reflected in the price of the car where it’s listed for sale here on eBay. You can either buy it now for exactly $4,616.23, or take your chances in the no reserve auction where bidding starts at $3,561.63. No, I don’t know why the seller chose such odd dollar figures, but you can go to Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania and look the car over in person when you ask them.

A substantial portion of the original paint has been removed, and while some of what the work has exposed is good, there’s certainly some areas that will require some more work. The seller tells us that they have owned the car since 1988 and kept it stored inside. They also talk about having parted out dozens of cars and have saved the best sheet metal for this one. It looks like the only metal work you will have to do is some work on the trunk floor and in the area where the top lowers.

While there are some panels shown in the ad, I’m not sure if they included these fenders or not. Obviously you will need to do some fixing here, hopefully with metal rather than body filler. There are a pair of extra doors included. The seller has a lot of extra Thunderbird parts to sell as well, but they are not included with the auction.

Here’s some of the rust you’ll be working on in the top storage area. You’ll want to cut out the corrosion first.

And here’s the top that goes into that hole. This is what scared me the most when I was looking this car over. I watched how complex my uncle’s 1960 T-Bird convertible was when the top went down, and the idea of connecting all those electro-hydraulic items from scratch and making everything work scares me a little, although this one looks like a simpler system. Do you think this is a good price? Or would you look for a more put together project?


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  1. Rod

    It is almost confusing how this job was handled. Why would you reinstall the carpet and seats before the rest of the bodywork was completed. Package the parts and store them away. It seems they are jumping all over the place.
    Not for me.

    • Morgan Winter

      I don’t think it looks like any interior work has been done…

  2. Jay M

    Oh, how I wish this was closer. I would love to find a 61-63 T-Bird convertible in any condition for this price.
    I would happily restore this beauty back to all original condition.
    These are one of the greatest American cruisers ever built. My uncle had a black roadster with a red leather interior, and I’ll never forget how effortlessly it seemed to float down the highway…

  3. Wayne Thomas

    A perfect bird for an ecoboost V6 swap. Looks like a rocket and would then sound like one too.

  4. Nova Scotian

    Owners must have grown tired 😴 of working on this. Owned since 1988….wonder when the destruction/reconstruction began? There is plenty of body fill in this I’d say, but a closer inspection would reveal what labour/ parts would be needed to get this cool 😎 ride back on the road. Top being removed is no deal breaker. These cars 🚗 were meant to be driven with their top off. I’d get it road worthy and deal with the top on a when ever basis…cool ride. (Said it twice!)

  5. Healeymonster

    I restored a 62 M code Tri power Roadster in my shop a few years back. I took some time to get all the details correct for the engine bay but it turned out a thing of beauty. Many people don’t realize that even though the bullit birds were made from 61-63 they had many differences in body and interior for each year. This one for example has two strait line peaks that run down the sides of the hood. That’s a 61 only. Also some of these early ones did not come with slide away steering columns. Many more differences than I care to remember. Here is a picture of the way the tri powers came from the factory. This one is a exact restoration minus the battery and hose clamps which were replaced with the correct units before completion.

  6. Healeymonster

    Here is a pic of the interior of my 62

    • ben

      how sweet it is I have 3 2 58 one conv and a 59 parts car with factory ac iam going to put in the rag top love all birds up till 70 ben in fl one 58 harttop I bought on here in st louis nice transaction love this site almost better the ebay to many scamers have been on there sense day one also bougt a 50 chevy truck on here

  7. TonyM

    Beautiful cruiser.

  8. Bill McCoskey

    Wow HealeyMonster, If that is a genuine M series T-bird with factory A/C, that’s one very rare car, probably only a couple known to exist. Nice job on the restoration.

    As to putting the top mechanism together, if you follow the factory manuals and check each connection for resistance due to corrosion, making sure the relays, motors & switches are all in good shape, then all that’s left is to make the adjustments, FOLLOWING THE SERVICE MANUAL DIRECTIONS. I was one of the last people to attend the T-bird & Continental factory education courses for the convertible top, in 1970.

    • Healeymonster

      Concerning the top, mine had all new oem relays and the pump was rebuilt as well. One of the problems with these older cars is that the hydraulic pump pulls all of its power through many (8) relays and those contacts in the relays wear due to the amperage draw on the older pumps drawing more power. I recommend installing 2 ford fender mount starter solenoids with a separate power source to run the pump. I let the original solenoids power the new starter solenoids. Never had a failure after that upgrade. The solenoids are hidden next to the pump so they are never seen.

  9. Michelle Burge

    I see so many rusted out old birds being sold that it makes me think there must not be any barn finds that have been even moderatly cared about. I just picked up a ’64 w nary a dent and barely a ding man this bird is a daily driver. Maybe cuz she is an Otegon car. Whaddya think sweet score huh.

  10. Jimmy

    I can not for the life of me figure out how people just let these cars go like this. If you don’t want them, give them to someone who will actually take care of them!!! Or, if you do want them and can’t fix them for now, put them in a place where they won’t just rust away!! Just ridiculous!!


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