In response to Hooniverse’s 4 part series of Thunderbird brochures (1, 2, 3, 4) in their R.A-S.H. series. R.A-S.H. stands for “Rusty’s Archive of Showroom Hyperbole”, so I’ve called this,
creatively, S.A-S.H. or Salguod’s Archive of Showroom Hyperbole. Archive is likely incorrect as I’m unlikely to do this again, but i digress.
Since the R.A-S.H. posts were mostly taken on the ‘bonnet’ of his ’98 Audi A4, I decided it only fitting to photograph this on the hood of my 1960 Thunderbird Convertible. Let’s have a look at ‘The World’s Most Wanted Car‘.
“Thunderbird – one of the great all-time automotive classics!”
This is year 3 of the first of the 4 seat Thunderbirds. The Squarebirds, as they’ve come to be known, were a resounding sales success. The ’60 alone was the best selling T’bird until the ’77 models came out, out selling all 3 years of the 2 seaters combined. However, until recently, the 4 seat T’birds, and the Squarebirds in particular, were the red headed step children of the Thunderbird universe. Even though the 4 seaters are gaining popularity and respect now, there’s still a 2 seat vs. 4 seat divide in the T’bird world, even among parts suppliers. It was certainly one of the most desirable cars at the time, but to call it an all-time classic when new was certainly a stretch.
“Just say “Thunderbird”!
The very name evokes an image of glamour and spirit and distinction. This beautiful car comes by its beauty naturally. You won’t find another car with lines so clean. So unaffected. So smart.”
You want hyberbole? This is 1960, we’ve got hyperbole.
“Sports car roadability and luxury car comfort.”
Yeah, if 0-60 in 10+ seconds, body roll and a floaty ride are “sports car roadability” and a tight-for-4 interior is ‘comfort’.
“Fully automatic, the top disappears completely!”
Along with 75% of the already meager trunk space. Actually, and I’m biased here, but this is pretty cool. The predecessor to the system on the 4 door Continental Convertible, the 1960 T’bird’s top goes down from the driver’s seat, with a flip of the two windsheild latches (conveniently left out of the brochure) and engaging the switch. The deck-lid rises, the top goes down and the deck-lid closes, leaving a clean, finsihed appearance. No boot to fuss with. It’s not a simple system with a hydraulic pump, 4 cylinders, 12 relays and numerous limit switches and solenoids. Should the system fail and you need to access the trunk, you jack the car, remove the wheels, drop the fuel tank and disconnect the hydraulic cylinders in back and the deck-lid latches through small access holes under the car. Thankfully, the system is actually pretty reliable if used regularly.
Decades before Photoshop, that top image is a retouched lie. They’ve used the split created by the lady’s arm to stretch the rear seat leg room to about 3 times actual. Compare to the green interior below.
The bellman on the left is thinking “Lady, I’m not sure this is gonna close.” Yes, the trunk is 5′ 5″ wide, but it’s not deep enough for a full paper grocery sack to stand upright. This page talks about Thunderbird’s ‘compact’ dimensions, but that only applies to the interior, it’s nearly as long and wide as my 8 passenger Saturn Outlook.
Accessories “To add an extra measure of comfort and pleasure.” Luxurious things like backup lights and a window washer. Check out the sliding steel sunroof, on an American car in 1960.
300 or 350 HP, but that’s gross, not the now standard SAE net. As I said before, the base engine isn’t particularly quick. It does feel quick, especially if you pay attention and put it in D1 so you don’t start in second gear. Note, however, that you could get your ‘luxury’ car with a 3 speed stick – on the column. Note that there’s nothing hiding those beautiful V8s and that the top image is actually a painting of the engine, not a photograph.
What strikes be the most on this page is how bad that top image is. Look at how blurry the people are. The image is so bad, that all the detail on the car – the grille, headlights, door cut line, quarter panel trim – is airbrushed in.
Oh, for the days of “15 Luxury Lounge” interiors, 56 different two tone exteriors and honest to goodness colors. Modern cars have maybe 10 colors and 6 of them are grey.
I hope the fellow Hoons at Hooniverse will forgive my
plagiarism borrowing of their format. I’ve always been a fan of auto literature (I have boxes of the stuff from all the shows I’ve been to) and enjoy the R.A-S.H. posts. With their 4 T’bird themed entries this week, it seemed fitting.
Disclaimer:- All photos were taken by the author and are of genuine original manufacturer publicity material, resting on the hood of a 1960 Thunderbird, currently in hibernation awaiting warmer days. All copyright rights remain in the possession of the manufacturer.