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1955-1979 Ford Thunderbird

This is what all those marketing terms and model names mean!

Listed in alphabetical order. All links within text open in new windows.

Bordeaux Luxury Group [image] Introduced in 1976 as an extra cost trim option. Featuring Bordeaux Starfire paint, a dark red or silver half-vinyl roof, and dark red interior trim. Wire wheel covers and silver hood and bodyside striping completed the package.

Burgundy Luxury Group [image] Introduced in 1974 as an extra cost trim option. Featured Burgundy paint, vinyl roof, and interior trim with gold bodyside striping and wire wheel covers.

Comfort Stream Ventilation This fresh air ventilation system was announced as standard equipment on the 1967 Thunderbird. It was not available on cars with air conditioning. It utilized the standard air conditioning outlets in the instrument panel to blow uncooled air into the passenger compartment by ram air when the car was in motion, or by turning on the blower motor. It was superseded in 1969 by the Power Ventilation feature, which was standard with all heater or air conditioning installations except for cars with Automatic Temperature Control.

Convenience Check Panel Originally called the Safety-Convenience Control Panel from 1964-1966, this option was renamed in 1967 to reflect the fact that the "safety" part of the panel, which was basically the emergency flashers, was now a mandatory standard feature, thus the new name to reflect the change. It was optional through 1971.

Copper Luxury Group [image] A one year only trim option in recognition of Thunderbird's 20th Anniversary. Available only in 1975, it featured distinctive Copper Starfire Glamour or Polar White paint finish with Copper half-vinyl roof and Copper Media Velour or optional leather interior. Deep Dish Aluminum Wheels were also part of the option. (See 1975 Thunderbird Copper Luxury Group for more information.)

Coved Rear Seat [image] Introduced in 1964, and used on all two door Thunderbirds through 1971, this rear seat back design was inspired by cozy cocktail lounge booths. The outboard ends of the seat back curve around to meet the quarter side trim, allowing passengers to sit facing the center of the car, which was said to encourage conversation and provide additional comfort during long trips.

Creme and Gold Luxury Group [image] A one year only trim option featuring a Creme and Gold two tone exterior paint color combination, and optional two tone creme and gold leather inside (gold velour was standard).

Cruise-O-Matic Evolved from the Ford-O-Matic in 1958, and identified Ford's 3-speed automatic transmission of the time.

Diamond Jubilee Edition [image] This special edition was based on the 1978 Thunderbird, and was built to commemorate Ford Motor Company's 75th Anniversary. It was available in limited colors, and was the best equipped T-bird to date in standard form. (See 1978 Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition for more information.)

Fingertip Speed Control [image] Ford's speed control system with "Off/On," and "Set Speed/Coast" control buttons mounted on the spokes of the steering wheel. Very convenient and easy to use. Cars equipped with Fingertip Speed Control also featured the Rim-Blow Steering Wheel.

Ford-O-Matic Introduced in 1950, the name Ford-O-Matic was given to Ford's new 3-speed automatic transmission. Later, in 1959, it was used to identify Ford's 2-speed automatic transmission. Superseded in 1958 by Cruise-O-Matic.

Fordor Designates a 4-door automobile; commonly used on Thunderbirds from 1967-1969.

Heritage Based on the 1979 Thunderbird, it was very similar to the Diamond Jubilee Edition of 1978. Built to bid farewell to the mid-sized Thunderbird body introduced in 1977, the Heritage models were available in either a Light Blue or Maroon color scheme.

Highway Pilot Control [image] This is the name Ford Marketing applied to the upgraded speed control option on the 1966 Thunderbird. It was the first to feature "Set Speed," "Retard," and "Resume" controls on the spokes of the steering wheel. It was used through 1969, and became known as Fingertip Speed Control in 1970.

I-Rest Tinted Glass The soft, green tint reduced eye strain and prevented sun load from heating up the interior and fading fabrics.

Jade Luxury Group [image] This trim option was introduced in the spring of 1975, and featured a Jade Starfire or Polar White paint finish, with Jade or White full or half-vinyl roof, Jade Media Velour upholstery or Two Tone White Leather and Jade. Wire Wheel Covers were also included. (See 1975 Thunderbird Jade Luxury Group for more information.)

Landau Model name given to the top of the line Thunderbird model from 1962-1971. Except for the 1971 2-Door Landau, it always included a vinyl-covered roof with simulated S-bars, and included simulated wood interior trim from 1963-1966. (See also Town Landau, below). For 1971 only, the S-bars were dropped on the 2-Door Landau model.

Lifeguard Design Name given to Ford's new 1956 safety features, including the deep dish steering wheel, safety door latches, padded instrument panel and sun visors, and seat belts.

Limited Edition Landau [image] A special limited edition 1963 Thunderbird model introduced in January 1963 that was based on the standard Landau, but featured a specific color combination not otherwise available. Production was limited to 2,000 cars, and the Limited Edition Landau designation was not used again. (See 1963 Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau for more information.)

Lipstick Luxury Group [image] A Lipstick Red trim option introduced in 1976, and available in 1977 with expanded color combinations. For 1976, it featured Lipstick Red paint, with a matching half-vinyl roof and white vinyl interior trim with Lipstick Red components. For 1977, it also included silver paint, vinyl roof, or a silver and Lipstick Red two tone interior.

MagicAire Name given to Ford's factory installed heater and defroster system for many years.

Master Guide Power Steering The name says it all: Master Guide does 85% of the work, makes driving more relaxing.

Panel Console The name given the center floor console that sat atop the transmission tunnel on 1958-1960 Thunderbirds. It housed front and rear ash trays, optional power window controls, concealed the radio speaker, and was referred to simply as the console in later years.

Quad 8 or Quadrasonic Tape Player Upon its introduction in 1976, Ford's Quadrasonic Tape Player played one track through each of four speakers, creating a listening experience that was said to exceed that of ordinary stereo reproduction. Special tape cartridges were required in order to achieve the full effect of quadrasonic sound.

Rim-Blow Steering Wheel [image] Introduced in 1969 on the Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar, the Rim-Blow Steering Wheel allowed the driver to sound the car horns by squeezing the inner rim of the steering wheel. It is easily identified by its distinct three spoke configuration, and was included with all Fingertip Speed Control installations from 1970-1974, with a two spoke design.

Rose Beige [image] A color used on Thunderbirds from 1963-1965. There were actually two colors assigned this name; the first, a medium metallic pink-silver (lilac) shade was used for paint finish and vinyl interior trim. This name was also used to describe the darker maroon color used for the vinyl roof and interior carpeting and instrument panel on the 1963 Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau. Confusion over the name has led some to restore Limited Edition Landaus with a lighter vinyl roof color, which is not correct.

S-bar [image] A non-functional decorative chrome ornament mounted on the rear roof panels of 1962-1971 Thunderbird Landau models, and on 1972 Thunderbirds equipped with a vinyl roof. They usually featured a color-keyed insert in their center, or had color-keyed paint that matched the vinyl roof color. They earned their name due to their elongated "s" shape.

Safety-Convenience Control Panel Introduced on the 1964 Thunderbird as an option, this panel was initially mounted on the instrument panel and featured red warning lights that illuminated to remind passengers to fasten their "Belts," warn of "Low Fuel," flashed for "Door Ajar," or when the emergency flasher was operating. In addition, it included a vacuum door lock control. In 1966, the lights were mounted overhead in a roof console that was standard on the Town Hardtop and Town Landau. Later Thunderbirds retained the lights in an overhead console, but it returned to the options list. Mid-year 1969, the flashing "Door Ajar" light was replaced with a standard bulb that lacked the flashing feature. (See 1964-1971 Thunderbird Safety-Convenience Control Panel for more information.)

Safety-Twin Taillights Name given to the dual taillights on the 1958-1959 Thunderbird. Notable in that they were much larger than those used on other cars of the era.

SelectAire Conditioner Ford called its factory-installed air conditioning systems SelectAire for many years.

SelectShift Name assigned to Ford's C6 automatic transmission beginning in 1967 in recognition of its ability to be shifted either manually or fully automatically.

Shell Design Contour Seat Thunderbird's new front bucket seats for 1964 were slimmer and trimmer than ever before. Sculpted to fit the contours of passengers, and designed to allow for more rear foot and leg room, these seats were comfortable and functional.

Silent-Flo Ventilation Introduced on Hardtop and Landaus for 1964, this feature consisted of vacuum-operated vents below the rear window that pulled interior air out of the car by utilizing the low pressure area behind the rear window on a moving vehicle. Standard on all Thunderbird hardtop body styles through 1971, although from 1967-1971 it was called Comfort Stream Ventilation (above).

Silver Luxury Group [image] A trim option introduced in 1975 that featured Silver Starfire paint, a Silver half-vinyl roof, and Silver or Dark Red leather upholstery, or Dark Red Picton Velour if preferred. (See 1975 Thunderbird Silver Luxury Group for more information.)

Silver Mink This color was introduced on the 1962 Thunderbird, and was offered through 1966. A silvery metallic color, it had a hint of blue in it, which can result in cars being incorrectly painted Brittany Blue. A Silver Mink vinyl interior was available in 1966 as well, and it was a close match to the exterior shade.

Special Brougham Option An optional trim package offered on 1970 and 1971 2-door Thunderbirds, which included special grille lamps, Hopsack cloth bucket seats, color-keyed grille stone shields, wheel covers, and other interior and exterior features.

Special Landau [image] A limited edition 1965 Thunderbird model introduced in the spring of 1965. Limited to just 4,500 units, all of which featured a special Parchment and Emberglo interior as well as other special touches not offered on other Thunderbirds. Designation used only in 1965, and does not apply to later models even with the same color combination. (See 1965 Thunderbird Special Landau for more information.)

Split Bench Seat [image] First introduced on the Thunderbird in 1970, this full-width bench seat was split so that the driver and passenger sides could be individually adjusted. Dual fold-down arm rests were provided as well. This seat became standard during 1972-1976.

Sportsroof Never officially used on the Thunderbird, this term was common on Mustang, Torino, and full size Ford and Mercury fastback body styles during the late sixties and early seventies. It has been used to describe the 1970 and 1971 2-door Thunderbird body styles, excluding the 1971 2-Door Landau model, due to their similarities with other Ford cars with a similar rear roof line.

StereoSonic Tape System [image] Introduced in 1966, this identifies the factory installed integral AM Radio/8-Track Stereo Tape System built by Motorola for installation in Ford vehicles. Four speakers were provided for true stereo sound reproduction.

StudioSonic Sound System Before stereo was available in cars, a reverberation unit was offered that delayed the signal to the rear speaker for just a second, creating an "echo" effect in the car. Ford said it was reminiscent of a concert hall, but all it took was one pothole to make the coils in the reverberator clang together to remind passengers they weren't in a concert hall! A combination fader/on/off switch was mounted on the instrument panel for convenience, and some systems also featured a floor control.

Sun Ray Wheel Covers [image] This wheel cover design was introduced on the 1959 Thunderbird, and was carried over to 1960 as well. These full wheel covers featured a black painted recessed area around the radius of the wheel cover, that resembled the sun's rays.

Swift Sure Power Brakes Used in the late fifties to market Ford's power brakes. Cars so equipped took up to 45% less effort to stop, which was very popular with the ladies (especially those wearing high heels!)

Swing-Away Steering Wheel [image] Introduced on the 1961 Thunderbird as an option, it was so popular it was made standard early in the 1962 model year. This feature allowed the driver to swing the entire steering wheel and column to the right about 10 inches, to provide additional knee and leg room for entering and exiting the car. A safety lock on the transmission lever prevented the car from being put into any gear other than park with the steering wheel moved aside, and the steering wheel would not move over in any gear other than park. It was also offered optionally on the 1963-1964 full size Fords. Superseded in 1967 with the Tilt-Away Steering Wheel.

Tilt-Away Steering Wheel [image] An improvement over the Swing-Away Steering Wheel, introduced for 1967. It differed from the previous version in that only the upper steering column hub section and steering wheel tilted up and over to the right, instead of the entire column moving. The Tilt-Away was also completely automatic; opening the driver's door with the car in park allowed the steering wheel to tilt out of the way by itself. Once the door was closed, it could be gently pulled down to a normal driving position, where it locked in place. 9 manual up-and-down tilt positions were also available. It was standard on all 1967 Thunderbirds, and became optional for 1968 and 1969, after which it was discontinued. It was also offered as an option on 1967-1969 Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar cars.

Town Hardtop This was the name given to a 1966 Thunderbird model that was similar to the base Hardtop model in trim level, except that the roof line was moved forward to meet the front door glass, which eliminated the rear quarter windows. Unlike the Town Landau, below, it did not feature the vinyl roof and S-bars on the roof. A two tone paint option could be specified, however. This model designation was never used again after 1966, despite initial plans to use it on a 1968 Fordor model that didn't have a vinyl roof. Even though the model was never built, the Town Hardtop designation still appeared in some literature of the time.

Town Landau This was the name given the top of the line Thunderbird model in 1966. It was unique in that the roof line was moved forward to meet the front door glass, eliminating the rear quarter windows. This gave the car a very formal look, which was accented by the standard vinyl roof and color-keyed S-bars. The name was next used again on a Thunderbird during 1977-1979, to denote a high level model within the line.

Tudor Designates a 2-door automobile; most common during the 1967-1969 era on Thunderbirds.

White and Gold Luxury Group [image] A 1974-only option that featured Polar White upper body paint with Gold Metallic Glamour paint below the wide vinyl insert bodyside molding. A Metallic Gold Levant Grain vinyl roof, gold bodyside moldings, and gold color-keyed Deluxe wheel covers completed the package outside. Inside, two tone White leather seating surfaces featured Gold Flare bolsters and components. Rarely seen.

Which Thunderbird models are the most sought after? What are the rarest colors each year? Which options add the most value to the car? Answers to those questions can be found at Most Collectible Ford Thunderbirds.