Great colors, sport roadster tonneau, chrome wires, top works!

1962 Ford Thunderbird

Technical specifications of Ford Thunderbird 1962

Price: -
Condition: Used
Item location: Macedonia, Ohio, United States
Make: Ford
Model: Thunderbird
Year: 1962
Mileage: 89,262
VIN: 2Y85Z172001
Vehicle Title: Clear
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Car description

The Ford Thunderbird is one of the most enduringly popular hobby cars of all time. From the 2-seaters in the mid-1950s to the latest modern take on that classic design, they are all collectable. However, if you want style, performance, and even a bit of practicality in your Thunderbird, then the 1961-1963 "Bullet Birds" are probably the best possible choice. Offering a back seat and big car comfort, they're arguably sleeker and leaner than the first of the four-seaters and not as anonymous as later versions. Perhaps that's why the Bullet Birds are seeing larger gains in value than any other generation of Thunderbird, including the early 2-seaters. If you want one hobby car that does everything well, then you should seriously consider this beautiful black 1962 Thunderbird.


This handsome black-on-black 1962 Ford Thunderbird has a great story behind it. Hailing from long-term ownership, it's a car that's been freshened as needed but never fully disassembled, so it has a tight, all-of-a-piece feel and given the overall condition, it has always been a fair-weather toy. Interestingly enough, it was discovered in a classified ad while the owner was in Florida looking for a collector car and after a quick phone call, he discovered that it was just a few miles from his home—back in Cleveland! The car was originally delivered to the Cleveland DSO, so that's obviously where it spent most of its life, but one glance underneath and you'll know it was never a daily driver and has not seen snow or winter weather. It's incredibly solid and clean throughout.


Today it sports a fantastic coat of code A Raven Black paint, which is indeed its original color. Few cars wear it better than a third-gen Thunderbird, whose long, sweeping lines are almost reminiscent of a jet and it's obvious where it gets the "Bullet Bird" nickname. Buying a black car is both very easy and challenging—easy because black paint shows every flaw and it's impossible to hide bad bodywork, and challenging because keeping it looking its best requires commitment. However, when it's right, nothing looks better and this gorgeous car looks like a million bucks from any angle. And again, if you're worried about a lifetime spent in Ohio, look at the fit of the doors, the ripple-free quarter panels, and the tight fit of the fender skirts. There's just no way this was ever a rusty car.


We also like the Bullet Birds because of that long strip of chrome that stretches from the point of the nose to the rear bumper, defining the entire car and making it look a city block long. It cleverly integrates the door handles, making for an unusually clean design. The chrome bumpers are in fantastic condition and the highly ornate grille (which is made up of hundreds of individual pieces, not a simple stamping) is excellent. Styling details between the 1961-62-63 models differs in small ways, and many enthusiasts find that they prefer the clean flanks of the '62, which is adorned with just three fluted tags on the quarters but nothing else. The traditional Thunderbird emblems on the nose and tail, the script on the front fenders, and the jet-like taillights all look crisp and bright, more evidence of a comprehensive restoration and excellent base stock. This is a great deal of car for the money.


The car also carries a correct code 56 black vinyl interior, which is how it came from the factory. Bucket seats and a console were standard and the silver piping around the seat cushions adds a little contrast that works best in a black interior. There's no faux wood here, just clean early '60s design that's all black, brushed stainless steel, and chrome. The gauges look like expensive clocks, the steering wheel is a wonderful combination of black plastic (no cracks!) and bright chrome spokes with a delicate ¾ horn ring, and the shifter is a piece of minimalist art that also controls the Swing-Away steering column. All the gauges appear to be functional, including the clock, which ticks away reliably, and the secondary controls for the heat, wipers, lights, and ignition are surrounded by a ribbed trim panel that is in very good shape and not pitted as many of them seem to be. We believe that the 89,262 miles shown on the odometer are authentic, but we have no way to be certain, but the car's condition certainly suggests that it's been sparingly used over the decades. The original AM radio remains in the dash and this car is equipped with power windows that are all fully operational. And, perhaps most importantly, the incredibly complex convertible top raises and stows itself under the rear deck and looks to be in good condition—we believe it's an older replacement top. It is also important to note that this Thunderbird includes a Sports Roadster tonneau cover, a lift-off fiberglass piece that covers the rear seat and gives it the look of a sporty 2-seater. Top operation is unaffected and the tonneau is light enough that it can be easily removed by two people in a matter of seconds. The trunk compartment is also nicely finished using a full mat set and it carries a correct full-sized spare tire and jack assembly stowed in the driver's side quarter panel area.


For power, this 'Bird relies on a potent Z-code 390 cubic inch V8, which in 1962 was making a nice, round 300 horsepower. There's a lot of Thunderbird to move, but the burly 390 seems to ignore most of its mass, making this convertible feel lively and energetic on the road. Better yet, it's an incredible highway cruiser, hammering along at supra-legal speeds with effortless ease, a task for which it was created. The engine bay is tidy and nicely presented, albeit not detailed for show. There's a correct expansion tank, oversized air cleaner, and Thunderbird valve covers, the latter two painted in silver to offer some contrast to the otherwise all-black engine compartment. The car is a bit grumpy when first started, but after a minute of warming up, it settles into an even idle and offers a big hit of torque right off the line. It's quiet and unobtrusive, so don't bother with this car if you're looking for a raucous muscle car, and the recent dual exhaust system offers an appropriately muscular muted hum.


The only transmission you could get in 1962 was a 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic, and it's ideally suited to the Thunderbird's luxury mission. History has proven that these are tough gearboxes and this one was rebuilt about four years ago. If you're an experienced Ford owner, you already know about the "green dot" on the shifter, which can transform the car's performance. There are two Drive positions, but using the one with the green dot will force the transmission to start in first gear instead of second, making the car feel 800 pounds lighter around town. We suggest using it all the time. Out back, there's a rugged 9-inch rear end with 3.00 gears inside, making it easy to understand why this is such a superlative highway cruiser. As I mentioned, there are no fears about this being a rusty, rotted Ohio car despite having spent its entire life here; the floors are entirely original and in excellent condition. It appears that they have been undercoated since new, but it's light enough that you can see every spot weld, seam, and reinforcing rib on the undercarriage, and none of it is rusty or deteriorated. Heck, there's not even any surface scale on the driveshaft or rear end! There's a bit of surface scale on the rear leaf springs and on the front suspension, but those are pretty unremarkable, and it looks to be wearing brand new shocks all around. We also serviced the brakes and installed a fresh master cylinder, so it offers confidence out on the road. Beautiful Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels are the real deal, not hubcaps, but they're reproductions—originals do not fit under the fender skirts, and it carries recent 215/70/14 whitewall radials that look right and handle great.


We love these cars; they're our favorite Thunderbirds. They do everything you want a hobby car to do and they're gorgeous to look at. This one offers awesome colors, a great look with the Sports Roadster tonneau and wire wheels, and no worries about what's hiding underneath. No matter who you are, you'll feel like a movie star every time you get behind the wheel and for the moment, the price tag is quite reasonable. Hard to argue with that. Call today!

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