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1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible shown in Monte Carlo Red
America's Most Wanted Car
1960 Ford Thunderbird

1960 Thunderbird Auctions

Production Numbers

The 1960 Thunderbird
"Gold Edition" Hardtops

Mechanical Specifications

Exterior Paint Colors

Interior Trim

Standard Equipment

Optional Equipment

The Sun Roof Hardtops

1960 Thunderbird
Stainless Steel Hardtops

1960 Thunderbird
Back-Up Light Mystery



1960 Thunderbird - The World's Most Wanted Car

The World's Most Wanted Car for 1960, the Thunderbird, received a modest but effective update to its styling which was introduced in 1958. In the front, a new grille treatment made the Thunderbird appear even more massive than before. A horizontal bar ran from one end of the grille to the other, it was thicker in the middle and tapered smaller as it reached each end. Three vertical bars intersected with the horizontal bar, and segmented the grille into what appeared to be eight sections. Behind these bars, a more detailed grille in a finer checked design gave the front end a new appearance, even though the bumper itself was carry over.

A Thunderbird emblem with a new design was mounted on the header panel above the front bumper, on the roof sail panels, and on the deck lid between the tail lights, where it concealed the key lock. A new script also appeared, this time mounted on the bullet-shaped area of the doors, similar to 1959, but sans the thicker chromed trim the outlined the area. On the rear quarter panels, a series of six vertical bars were mounted in sets of three.

The appearance from behind was noticeably changed as well. A new tail light design offered three round pods on each side, with the inner most pod reserved for the optional back-up lights, if they were ordered. The middle pod and outboard pod served as brake and running lights, while the outboard pod alone indicated a turn.

The interior was freshened up with a new standard upholstery pattern for the seats and side panels, available in a choice of Morocco Grain vinyl bolsters and inserts or Morocco Grain vinyl bolsters with Nylon Cord fabric inserts, in six different colors.

These changes gave the car a freshly updated look, even though its 1½-year old design really didn't need much updating. The Thunderbird 352 Special V-8 engine (300 horsepower) was still standard, and the Thunderbird 430 Special V-8 (350 horsepower) could be ordered if additional performance was desired. A choice of standard, standard with overdrive, or automatic transmission was available, with the Cruise-O-Matic automatic a mandatory option with the larger displacement engine.

Optional equipment remained about the same as 1959, with the exception of one major new announcement: a sliding sun roof hardtop Thunderbird. The sun roof panel and related hardware was provided to Ford by Golde and Company and the 1960 Thunderbird was the first American-made automobile that provided this feature as a regular production option. Even with the sun roof open, the interior remained warm with the heater on during testing, even though the temperatures that day were frigid. Wind turbulence and buffeting inside the car was minimal, even at highway speeds. The panel could be slid open any amount desired, and locked securely in place with a twist of the inside handle.

1960 would go on record as the Thunderbird's best sales year to date, with 92,843 cars built for the model year. Despite its enormous popularity with the car buying public, the Thunderbird did have its critics. Areas of concern were usually the brakes, suspension, and steering. The T-bird had a rather soft ride, as cars of this era normally did, and exhibited a degree of body roll and wallowing in cornering situations. Since the Bird was a heavy car, the drum brakes all around were susceptible to fade after repeated hard braking, which was another characteristic of the time, more so than something specific to the car. Steering was not as responsive as some felt it should be, but again this was a typical complaint of most everything at the time short of true sports cars.

Some people had difficulty placing the Thunderbird in any particular classification. It was a luxury car, but much smaller than typical luxury cars of the day. It was also less expensive than most, and had a unique interior design that featured individual front seats with center panel console, a layout not seen on other cars. The Thunderbird was considered compact in comparison to full sized cars, but was certainly not small enough to be considered a true sports car. Performance was good, especially with the 430 engine, but due to its size and weight, the T-bird was hardly a race car, although it was being professionally raced at the time.

Where the Thunderbird was most at ease was gracing the driveways of America's finest homes, appearing at all the top events from coast to coast, including sports and cultural appearances. The country club parking lots were full of Thunderbirds, as were the shopping center parking lots, marinas, and pretty much any location where the good life was enjoyed. The distinctive Thunderbird was considered cooler than other luxury cars, due in part to its size, appearance, and its sporty interior that was anything but traditional.

People who drove Thunderbirds were always considered to be a bit more daring than their peers who drove cars that were...well...we'll just say not as interesting, and leave it at that. The successful bachelor would be expected to drive a Thunderbird, as would the respected Doctor who might be considering retirement soon. A young gal in college was the envy of everyone when she pulled up in a new Thunderbird on the first day of class. And the older lady who was widowed years ago but left in very good shape financially just couldn't resist the T-bird's compact size "...It's so much easier to park and maneuver..." she tells her jealous friends over lunch...

For 1960, one could choose the classic Thunderbird Hardtop, or Convertible, or the new Sun Roof Hardtop. All were available in 23 glorious paint shades, with 16 different interiors to choose from, so there was something to suit everyone. The compact, sporty, and luxurious Thunderbird defined its own market in 1958, and reigned supreme over other cars due to its unique proportions, appointments, and performance. There was really nothing else quite like it. It truly was the World's Most Wanted Car.

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