Live Auctions

390 Tri-Power: 1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster

I can never stress enough the importance of doing your homework before committing your hard-earned cash to buying a classic car. Take the 1962 Ford Thunderbird as an example. While there is little to separate a standard Convertible from the Sports Roadster, the latter is the rarer of the pair. Consequently, it is also the one that attracts a significantly higher price in the classic market. Verifying that the car you’re looking at is the real deal is vital unless you have no issues with throwing away good money. This 1962 Thunderbird is a genuine Sports Roadster, and its condition is above average. The owner has upgraded its V8 engine and has now decided to part with it. The T-Bird is located in Gastonia, North Carolina, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. It is a classic that has sparked some interest because 35 bids have pushed the price to $15,600. However, this remains short of the reserve.

While Ford produced 1,427 examples of the Sports Roadster, the early cars muddied the waters when it came to verifying their authenticity. The first example rolled off the line on September 13, 1961, and this is where the confusion begins. The first 558 cars carried a VIN that commenced with the digits “2Y85,” which was the same as used on the regular Convertible. Those early cars also featured a Body Style code of “76A,” which was, once again, the same as that used for the Convertible. The only certain way to confirm the authenticity of those early cars was to view the original Sales Invoice. It wasn’t until December 11, 1961, that these cars received their unique “2Y89” VIN and a Body Style code of “76B.” It is those early cars that can confuse enthusiasts. This car is a later example, meaning that it carries the correct codes. It is finished in Rangoon Red, and it presents superbly. The paint holds an excellent shine, with no signs of any significant flaws. The distinctive fiberglass tonneau that was one of the hallmarks is intact, as are all of the correct badges. The other feature that helped the Roadster to stand out was the 48-spoke Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. Early wheels suffered from quality control issues, but any that have lasted to the present day must be good ones. This car is fitted with a complete set, including the matching spare in the trunk. The owner has recently fitted a new White power top with plenty of new hardware. It is said to operate perfectly and presents in as-new condition. The vehicle is completely rust-free, and while the panels look good, the T-Bird’s underside is incredible. It is spotlessly clean, with no evidence of anything more than some very slight dustings of surface corrosion on some suspension components. The exterior chrome is in good order, while the glass is flawless.

The owner is consistent with the photos he supplies of Thunderbird’s interior. He doesn’t provide many, but at least their quality is generally pretty lousy. However, what we can see looks quite promising. The seats are upholstered in black leather, and there are no significant issues or problems. The door trims and carpet present well, and what we can see of the dash and console shows promise. I get the impression that the overall condition is good, but potential buyers will probably want to contact the owner to source some better photos or perform an in-person inspection. The Sports Roadster is equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power seats, and a pushbutton radio in keeping with its luxury credentials.

When it was shiny and new, this Thunderbird rolled off the line outfitted with a Z-Code 390ci V8, a 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The Z-Code produced 300hp, giving the car the potential to cover the ¼ mile in 16.7 seconds before reaching 128mph. However, this T-Bird is no longer numbers-matching. The owner has sourced the desirable M-Code version of the 390, and this offers the driver 340hp. Did it make a difference? The extra power dropped the ¼-mile ET to 16.1 seconds, while the top speed rose to 134mph. So I guess that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. The owner has installed a new fuel tank and an M-Code correct exhaust. While the seller doesn’t provide specific details on how the car runs or drives, it seems that it is ready to be enjoyed by its lucky new owner.

While Ford produced 1,427 examples of the 1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster, their survival rate hasn’t been particularly high. The Thunderbird Registry indicates that a mere 303 cars remain on our roads today. That is one of the reasons why you will find unscrupulous owners attempting to deceive unwary buyers with vehicles that aren’t genuine. This one is the real deal, but it’s a shame that it is no longer numbers-matching. This will impact its potential value, even though the result of the change is to see the more desirable M-Code V8 occupying the engine bay. If the bidding follows recent market trends, I would expect the bidding to head beyond $30,000 before it passes the reserve. If the car had been numbers-matching, I believe that the figure could’ve been higher. If we get a situation where two people decide that the T-Bird is a must-have vehicle, the bidding could find its way to $50,000 or more. This is an auction that should be worth watching.


  1. John Debalso

    A 16 second quarter mile at 134 mph? I don’t think so. 16 yes…..134mph, no.

    Like 3
    • Bellingham Fred

      The top speed is not the 1/4 mile mph, but the overall top speed. Which would take a longer run to achieve.

      Like 7
      • John DeBalso

        Your correct. I’m a drag racer and always associate the quarter mile time with mph. But in this case the seller is referring to top mph.

        Like 1
  2. JudoJohn

    Fords never were “numbers matching”. The best you could get is date coded parts.
    Nice looker, BTW.

    Like 4
  3. MLM

    Nice Bird and even it’s not numbers matching this is going to be somebody’s sweet ride. My heart says yes but the wallet says no.

    Like 8
  4. Raymond

    Try to sync those carbs….been there, done that…

    Like 1
  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Numbers matching or not, that’s one beautiful Bird! It can park beside my Bird any time.

    Like 3
  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    From the complete ugliness of the Square Bird to the sublime beauty of the Bullet Bird…has to be one of the most caterpillar to butterfly design transitions in the big 3 auto world

    Like 10
    • B-Boy

      I like the square birds. In fact I like all the iterations until they turned it into a pimp-mobile in the mid 70s.

      Like 3
  7. Jack Quantrill

    The great bandleader Artie Shaw had one of these and drove around Thousand Oaks, CA back in the 80’s. Good looking car.

    Like 6
  8. Vince H

    Too much is put on numbers matching. Numbers matching today does not even come close to what it used to mean.

    Like 6
  9. Gary

    Back in the day, when I was a little kid , my mom had a pink 1963 t-bird with a lavender interior however , It was not a convertible. She always had a thing for pink cars. 🤔

    Like 4
  10. David Payne

    I bought a new 1962 .This was the best car I ever owned.

    Like 4
  11. Kenn

    Hit a deer at over 100 mph and hope your life insurance is paid up.

    Like 1
  12. Tom B.

    I had a 1961 Thunderbird. Those convertible tops were Rube Goldberg at his finest. Over 50 sixty-year old switches, motors, hydraulics … all waiting to fail.
    Rebuilt mine once. Once was enough.

    Like 1
  13. Gary Rhodes

    The best looking Bird other than the 55.

    Like 1
  14. William Polasek

    I used to own a 62 T- Bird and my wife at the time made me sell it. It was nothing special other than it only had 876 actual miles on it, and I bought it for $750. dollars ! Back in 1975 I was able to get my hands on it from my Aunt by marriage Mother. It had been her late husband’s car . He owned the IGA in our little town. Hence the milage! Only back and forth to work less than 2 blocks away. My ex had me sell it for $400 dollar’s ,I did get too drive it but not like I’d wanted too. It was Raven’s Black with red interior. 390 Coupe, no frills. The only thing it had was pwr. Steering and brakes and a whole lot of get up and go. Sure do miss that Beautiful Black Bird!

    Like 1

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