National Geographic : 1963 Feb
The story of a classic For a decade the Thunderbird has been, quite obviously, the car other manufac turers would have liked to create. It is one of the rarest of cars-a true classic-and that is why it is so difficult to imitate. Yet the Thunderbird began with a very simple idea: to design a car that would crystallize all the pleasures of driving in one vehicle. An American original. This was to be a new kind of automobile; a small, personal luxury car. It was to be a purely American car, with all the comfort, all the ease of automatic controls, all the blazing per formance-and all the reliability-that American engineering skill could give it. And it was to have more; it was to express in every line and every action a unique spirit-a spirit of gaiety, of joy of living that no other car could equal. The hope was to make the Thunderbird both individual and enduring. If you will take another look at the cars which evolved from this hope-the Thunder birds on these pages-you will in all prob ability agree we were successful. Imitated-but unmatched. Every model is being driven proudly today, and, as a matter of fact, the early ones are already collectors' items, commanding premium prices. From the start, Thunderbird has been a trendsetter. It created a fresh new look and inspired a good many echoes. You only have to glance at the newest cars to know that its look, its very lines, have been liberally borrowed by car after car, both here and abroad. It convinced Amer icans that a car could be both nimble and luxurious. Others have tried to follow that pace-making idea, too. But the whole new Thunderbird concept has never been matched. No untried fledgling. You can see, looking down the years, that the Thunderbird has changed-but without changing. Each model is different, but the unique look, the zest, the flair for action remain as a basic theme. What you can't see (but what is very real indeed) is the silky silence and per fection that ten years of development and refinement have given the latest Thunder birds. There is no substitute for this time, this testing, this refinement. No car could hope to be really "like a Thunderbird" without this decade of development-but that means a ten-year wait. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of drivers have discovered what it means to possess a car built in the classic tradition. 1963: best year yet. According to sales records for the 1963 introductory period, in fact, more people have accepted the keys to new Thunderbirds than in any like period of the car's history.These Thunder bird owners have discovered how deeply satisfying a timeless look of distinction can be. They realize how reassuring it is to own an automobile that is refined and polished in every detail. Indeed, our own very deep pride in the Thunderbird stems in no small measure from the manifest loyalty and pleasure of its owners-as well as the satisfaction any manufacturer can take from creating an undupli- PRODUCTSOF cated triumph that has stood d the test of time. MOTOR COMPANY Asy/i/L~ 6 uE~eiaw MZali tn.Mow ^ '