American Legends: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

American Legends: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

EngineV 8Horsepower4385 lbs | 1989.003 kgTorque626 Nm / 462 ft-lbWeight4385 lbs | 1989.003 kgDrive TypeRWDEngine LocationFrontTransmissionManual

If the entire history of the American automobile industry had to be reduced to one, but the most important, the most principled confrontation, then it would certainly be the age-old dispute between Ford and Chevrolet. As a result of the rivalry between these two giants, the legendary Thunderbird was born.

Source: WallpaperUP

The desperate rivalry between the two corporations of the American auto industry began back in the first decade of the twentieth century. Since then the degree of their dispute has never been lowered. How many epic battles were fought, very dramatic, and sometimes tragic stories occurred! There was only one thing missing – mercy and mutual assistance. In the never-ending, telenovela series, the confrontation between these two, one very entertaining episode can be found. In this episode, as a result of a heated competition, two legendary cars were born – the Thunderbird and the Chevrolet Corvette.

The star was born

The Ford leadership immediately saw a direct and clear threat in the Corvette when, at the 1953 Motorama, held in New York in January, the GM PR team presented a snow-white roadster with unusual contours and a fiberglass body. The elegant Corvette, so unlike the heavy and rugged Chevrolets of the time, became an instant national celebrity. Well, in the Blue Oval headquarters in Dearborn, reports from New York were studied without any enthusiasm. Of course, the “blue oval” bosses understood that a small sports car would not make a difference on the market and would remain a successful niche product at best. On the other hand, Ford was considered the main slaughterer of Detroit in terms of new stylistic concepts. It was clear that these “clumsy adventurers” from GM should not be allowed forward. 

1954 model

Source: Auto Vercity

Blue Oval’s senior management turned out to be extremely determined: Chevrolet is not to be ignored. It was not surprising that the very first proposed version of the sports two-door machine immediately received universal approval. However,  the whole trick, maybe, was not in a hurry, but in the fact that the designers created a masterpiece. Glancing at both the competing Corvette and the running out watch-time – the “blue oval” stylists hit the bull’s eye. Clean, light, devoid of deliberateness and far-fetched lines of the roadster, as well as very successful proportions, distinguished the new product from its peers. To reduce the cost of production and speed up the development process, the future Thunderbird borrowed most of the external trim elements from the then “blue oval” passenger models, but this did not spoil its appearance at all, but even added the charm of family continuity. So, in 1954, Thunderbird was born!

The fourth generation of  “Flair Birds”

No major changes were made for 1966, and the regular hardtop and convertible were back in stock, with interior and exterior styling upgrades. Remarkably, 1966 marked the end of an era: Ford decided to discontinue the Convertible, which had been part of this model’s lineup since 1955. In terms of interiors, the designers of the 1966 edition nailed it. New seat trim patterns, door panels, and rear trim panels have changed the look of the cabin. The seat pattern was changed to “biscuit” and “pleated” and the side panels were molded vinyl creases slightly wider than previous models in the series. The polished trim that ran from the front of the door panel just below the vent window and along with the molded armrest to the rear seat was removed. The fourth generation was nicknamed “Flair Birds” by fans. In 1966, the base 390 FE V8 engine was upgraded to 315 hp, and the 428 FE V8 was added to the lineup. The standard 390 engine (6.4 L) was provided by a 4-barrel carburetor. It was a “V-shaped eight” with a 7.0 liters volume and 345 hp. 9 seconds were needed to accelerate to 100 km/h.

Did you know?

“Thelma and Louise”, 1991

Source: AutoEvolution

In the early 90s, Ford Thunderbird was not a star anymore. Oldtimers were still cherished by motorists, but the latest mediocre models were not interesting to the public. The Ford management was about to remove the car from production when the cinema suddenly intervened in the course of things. Oscar-winning Ridley Scott directed the remarkable road movie in 1991, and people began to speak about Thunderbird again. The film “Thelma and Louise” featured Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, and the 1966 Ford Thunderbird in person! This film instantly became a cult.

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American Legends: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

EngineV 8Horsepower4385 lbs | 1989.003 kgTorque626 Nm / 462 ft-lbWeight4385 lbs | 1989.003 kgDrive TypeRWDEngine LocationFrontTransmissionManual

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