Update: Price Reduced On a Very Original 1960 Ford Thunderbird.

UPDATE – This Black Bird has returned. We featured this highly original 1960 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop about 18 months ago with an asking price of $21,500. Now it’s back and for sale again but with a much lower asking price ($10,950). It’s still calling Vanderwagen, New Mexico home and is for sale here on craigslist. The seller, a lady named Katy, seems to be a straight shooter and provides a good overview of her driver-quality survivor Squarebird. She includes a decent amount of photos,  a list of what the ‘Bird’s highlights are, and a list of things that’ll need attention (like its rare Factory A/C). When she bought the ‘Bird about nine years ago, it came with a bunch of parts (including an almost complete set of newly beautifully chromed old stock bumpers, bullets, emblems, and stuff still wrapped in bubble wrap) that is included in the sale. Katy says she never intended to restore it, she just wanted to drive it, enjoy its originality, and take it to a few shows. She’d like to keep her Black Bird, but her focus has shifted to finding more garage space and working on her ’71 Mustang and her husband’s ’67 Camaro, so she’s looking for a new home for her T-Bird. Maybe this time around (especially with a much lower price), it’ll find a new home and garage/nest. Fellow staff writer Jeff Bennett’s article from November 27, 2022 is below for your perusal.

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A Most Unlikely Racer: Original 1960 Ford Thunderbird

FROM 11/27/2022 – The Goodwood Revival is one of the biggest bucket list events in the collector car world.  It is a combination of racing, a huge concours, and an overwhelming deep dive into automotive history.  Five years ago, a video from the event went viral.  In it, a former Holman-Moody built 1959 Ford Thunderbird absolutely laid waste to all the sedans in its race before being flagged for an exhaust issue.  From the moment I saw that video, my opinion of “Squarebirds” has changed immensely.  If you are looking for a cool Thunderbird with the surprising ability to hustle, then check out this 1960 Ford Thunderbird coupe for sale on craigslist in Vanderwagen, Arizona.  While this original is likely too nice to turn into a race car, would this $21,500 black beauty be the perfect car to slide sideways through life in?  Thanks to T.J. for the tip!

To many, the 1958-1960 “Squarebird” Thunderbirds were a totally disappointing follow up to the original two seat Thunderbirds.  It was if Ford’s marketing department traded the gorgeous soul of the car for sales glory.  The new four seat car was a showroom success, but the styling was anything but sporty.   That didn’t stop racers.  Holman-Moody built a handful of race cars based upon the four seat Thunderbird.  Other racers also used the cars for both the Grand National and convertible series.  The most immortal of these racing ‘Birds was likely the Thunderbird driven by Johnny Beauchamp in the famous photo finish of the 1959 Daytona 500.  Coincidentally, this is believed to be the same car restored and driven at Goodwood.

So, despite the weight of the cars and aerodynamics that would make a cinderblock look positively swoopy, these cars made formidable racers.  With a curb weight of 3,950 lbs. and an optional 350 hp engine, you could argue that it had plenty of performance in an era where cars didn’t always have seatbelts and single pot master cylinders linked to four-wheel drum brakes were a thing.  Move the clock forward decades, and you see that a Squarebird can still be a potent weaponon the racetrack in the hands of a skilled driver.  If you have 23 minutes, this video gives you an in-car view of the Goodwood Car in action with just such a driver.  After watching the video and listening to the sweet, sweet sound of that V-8 on the hunt for lesser cars, I do believe I would find a way to make the steering a bit tighter.

The 1960 Thunderbird seen here in the ad is obviously not a candidate for a race car conversion.  It is mostly original and looks to be presentable in its current condition.  There is some expected wear in the driver’s seat, some paint work here and there, and the usual nicks and scratches.  The remarkable thing is that it has just 51,000 miles on it and is only on its third owner.  The other curious fact about the car is that it is equipped with an original Ford Motor Company trailer hitch.  It seems that the first owner was an avid boater and felt that this was a good choice for a tow vehicle.

The car also came with a number of options such as power steering, power brakes, power windows, power driver’s seat, and a radio.  All of these are, in fact, still working.  The seller tells us that the car has enjoyed just Sunday drives and trips to car shows under his ownership.  The driver’s seat will need some repair though, as the seat has split and the leather in this high wear area is showing its age.  The fire engine red color of the leather kind of makes this honest wear even more obvious.

Under the hood is Ford’s 352 cubic inch V-8, and it is backed by a three speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission pushing power to a rear end with a 3.10:1 rear gear ratio.  This is likely going to be a very highway friendly combination and would allow you to click off the miles in style in those pillowy leather seats.  The car is said to drive well, and it has just a small bit of surface rust.  The fender skirts not seen in the photographs are in the seller’s possession, and will come with the car upon sale.

As I typed up this story, I had the YouTube video on in the background.  It just astounds me how fast such a behemoth of a racecar like this could lap the rather tight circuit at Goodwood.  It just goes to show that the conventional wisdom that American cars of this era had poor handling and lacked finesse.  Perhaps the average American car fell into that category.  However, properly prepared race versions were a threat both then and now.  While the feature car is not a race car by any means, it definitely has good bones and could make an excellent car to enjoy.

Have you seen the video?  What are your thoughts on a Squarebird as a race car and as a collector car?  Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Uncle Ed

    Ford nailed it with the interior design of Thunderbird in my humble opinion

    Like 14
    • Ron Denny Ron DennyAuthor

      Paul Drake thought so, too. He was partial to black squarebird drop tops. The ones with the stylish ashtrays.

      Like 1
  2. Frog

    This was my 1st car when I was a teenager. The car was considered a death trap for sure. The one I owned had a 430 V8. The carhad 3 bald snow tires and 1 bald bias ply tire flex pipe exhaust no mufflers which would shoot flames out of the tail pipes. Crazy times talk about living on a wing and a prayer.

    Like 6
  3. Dan Wychgram

    As a teenager I fell in love with the interior and ended up looking at and trying out a few. Ended up with a red/white 1956 Mercury converitble. I had the third coolest car in school after the Corvette and the Chrysler 300C.

    Like 2
  4. sheldon

    An honest and worthwhile example. Someone will snap it up.

    Like 1
  5. jwaltb

    It looks like a catfish from the front.

    Like 0
  6. Larry Ashcraft

    I owned a 1960 T-Bird back in the late 60s. It had the Nascar Lincoln suspension and a manual transmission. I raced it in an autocross in a shopping center parking lot and did quite ell with it. Just took a heavy right foot and lots of steering input (manual steering).

    Like 0
  7. 370zpp 370zppMember

    How many cars (besides this one) make you think of a song from the White Album?

    Like 0
  8. CadmanlsMember

    Took my driver’s license test in a 60 Bird. Great cars. Visibility was great to parallel park

    Like 0

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