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History - T-Bird Mileposts (The Seventies)
The Seventies
Ford Thunderbird 1970-1979 Timeline

with Advertising Taglines, News Events, and Trivia
(Position cursor on photo for description)

1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979

The Fifties | The Sixties
1970 Select Another Year
A New Flight of Birds

On May 4, 1970 four students died and nine were wounded in a confrontation between Vietnam War demonstrators and the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. At the Grammy Awards, Simon and Garfunkel received awards for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, Song of the Year, and Best Contemporary Song for "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
1970 Ford Thunderbird Front Cornering Lamps

1970 Ford Thunderbird Tilt Steering Wheel
First time in Thunderbird history a major restyle was not
  introduced after 3 years (all sheet metal from
  windshield forward was new, and the two door
  models featured a new roofline)

Two Door Landau models didn't have S-Bars
  (first time ever since model was introduced in 1962)
Hidden (windshield) radio antenna introduced as
  standard equipment (1970 only)
Locking Steering Wheel and Transmission Selector
Map Light Delay Feature introduced as standard
  (early production only)
Radial-Ply Tires introduced as standard
Parking lights remain on with headlights
Concealed windshield wipers introduced as standard
6-Way Power Passenger Seat option returns
High Back and split bench seat options
Special Brougham option
Three Spoke Rim-Blow Steering Wheel option
Relays added to transistorized sequential turn signal
  black box to increase the brightness of brake and
  turn signal lamps (Production change 12-29-69)
1971 Select Another Year
Whatever Happened to Individuality?

Apollo 15 was launched on Monday, July 26, 1971 as 1 million spectators watched in Cape Kennedy, Florida; Col. David R. Scott, Lt. Col. James B. Irwin, and Maj. Alfred M. Worden were aboard for this mission to the Moon. Top television shows included "Marcus Welby, M.D.," and "The Flip Wilson Show."
1971 Ford Thunderbird Special Brougham Option interior with coved rear seats

1971 Ford Thunderbird Four Door Landau rear window detail
Last year for Thunderbird Four Door Landau model
Vinyl Roof option made available for Two Door
  Hardtop model
Last year for Sequential Turn Signals on Thunderbird
Last time "Landau" was used as model name
  until 1977
Final year for coved rear seats (two door models)
Ignition key reminder buzzer made standard
Final year for vacuum-operated rear vent system
Neiman Marcus offered "His and Her" 1971 Thunderbirds
  in its 1970 "Christmas Book" ($25,000)
Last year for oil, temperature, and AMP gauges (until 1977)
Final year for the optional overhead roof console warning lights
1972 Select Another Year
The Thunderbird Feeling

A break-in occurred at 2:30 AM on June 17, 1972 at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters office in the Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C. Five men were caught and arrested. This was the beginning of the end for the Nixon Administration, as this story would remain in the national headlines for the next few years. Top movies of the year included: "The Godfather," "The Poseidon Adventure," "What's Up Doc?," and "Deliverance."
1972 Ford Thunderbird with Power Sunroof

Individually-Adjustable Split Bench Front Seat in optional Ginger Leather
Individually-Adjustable Split Bench Front Seats
Front Cornering Lamps became optional again
One Millionth Thunderbird built on June 22, 1972
400 2V V-8 Engine standard in early production (just
  2,006 units built before 429 4V V-8 made standard)
460 4V V-8 Engine option
Optional Power Door Lock switch integral with
  door lock plunger knob (1972 only)
Only year vinyl interior trim was not offered in
  1958-1976 period
Left hand outside remote control mirror became optional
  (on some units—this had been a standard feature
  on Thunderbirds since 1963)

"FASTEN SEAT BELTS" light mounted in separate unit
  at center top of instrument panel
1973 Select Another Year
A Unique Luxury Automobile

The beginning of a new music craze started with a group from Philadelphia named The O'Jays. Their recording "Back Stabbers" hit number two on the charts for the week ending September 25, 1972. The term "Disco" was applied to the music in a story that appeared in the Rolling Stone Magazine on September 13, 1973. The O'Jays' next release was "Love Train," which had an equally infectious dance beat and reached number one on February 5, 1973. Donna Summer wasn't too far off...
1973 Ford Thunderbird Power Sunroof option

1973 Ford Thunderbird Opera Window
Opera Window option (standardized mid-year)
White sidewall tires made standard
AM-FM Stereo Radio with Integral Tape
  System option
Last year for optional Bucket Seats and Console
SelectAire Conditioner, vinyl roof, power windows,
  automatic seatback release, tinted glass and
  Opera Windows standardized (on
  June 11, 1973)

Impact-Absorbing 5 mph Front Bumper System
  introduced as mandatory safety feature
Spring loaded stand-up hood ornament introduced
  as standard
Red-colored interior not offered (1973 only)
1974 Select Another Year
Make a Little Thunder of Your Own

On April 3rd and 4th, 1974, a tragic storm system produced 148 tornadoes that devastated 13 states in the South and Midwest. 350 people were killed by the storm system, and it caused $600 million in damage. Due to the Watergate scandal, on August 8, 1974 President Nixon became the first U.S. President to resign. The resignation was effective at noon on August 9, 1974. Vice President Gerald R. Ford assumed the country's highest office, becoming the first President to serve who was not elected by a vote of the people. One month later, on September 8, 1974 President Ford pardoned Nixon.
1974 Ford Thunderbird

1974 Ford Thunderbird Power Mini-Vent Windows
Seat Belt Ignition Interlock System introduced as
  mandatory feature (1974 only; Government

Burgundy Luxury Group option
White and Gold Luxury Group option
Quick Defrost Windshield and Rear Window option
Simulated Wire Wheel Cover option
Solid State Ignition System introduced as standard
Power Moonroof option
460 V-8 Engine standardized
Impact-Absorbing 5 mph Rear Bumper System
  introduced as mandatory safety feature
Power Mini-Vent Window option
"FASTEN BELTS" light relocated to row of lights
  on top left of instrument panel
1975 Select Another Year
Could It Be the Best Luxury Car Buy in America?

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" dominated the 1975 Academy Awards, and at the Grammy Awards, Natalie Cole won Best New Artist. The Record of the Year was "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain and Tennille; "Still Crazy After All These Years" by Paul Simon won Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
1975 Ford Thunderbird Deep Dish Aluminum Wheels

1975 Ford Thunderbird Copper Luxury Group instrument panel
Copper Luxury Group option
Silver Luxury Group option
Jade Luxury Group option
Four Wheel Disc Brake/Hydro Boost option
Deep Dish Aluminum Wheel option
AM-FM Multiplex Radio standardized
Downward-angled steering wheel spokes introduced
First year for mandatory catalytic converter
1976 Select Another Year
Could It Be the Best Luxury Car Buy in the World?

On July 4, 1976 the United States celebrated its 200th Birthday, and the Bicentennial Party lasted all year; Barbara Walters became the first television news person to earn a $1 million annual salary for co-hosting the nightly news; Military spending worldwide increased to $300 billion per year in 1976.

The final full-size, full-luxury Thunderbird was built this year.
1976 Ford Thunderbird Creme and Gold Luxury Group Leather Interior

1976 Ford Thunderbird with Lipstick Luxury Group option
Creme and Gold Luxury Group option
Bordeaux Luxury Group option
Lipstick Luxury Group option
Last year for full-size Thunderbird
AM-FM Multiplex Radio becomes optional again
Stationary rear side windows introduced
Automatic Seat Back Release becomes
  optional again
QuadraSonic Sound System option
AM/FM Stereo Search radio option
Two tone Saddle/Tan leather interior introduced as option
"Low Fuel Economy" Warning Light added as option
1977 Select Another Year
Introducing a completely new Thunderbird for 1977. At $5,434, it's hard to believe.

The new Thunderbird was 10 inches shorter and 900 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and 1977 would be the best year for sales year to date, far exceeding the 1960 production numbers..

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977, and "The Love Boat" debuted on television. Inflation hit 11%, and unemployment dropped to 7%; Imported cars set a new record for sales with 1.5 million sold. The album "Rumors" by Fleetwood Mac won Album of the Year at the Grammys; "Star Wars" was the top money maker at the movies, earning $460,987,469.
1977 Ford Thunderbird
Shared platform with new mid-sized Ford LTD II
Town Landau model
  reintroduced mid-year
Brushed aluminum wrap-over roof applique on
  Town Landau models
Die cast hood ornament with color-keyed acrylic insert
  on Town Landau models
Styled Road Wheels introduced
Turbine Cast Aluminum Wheels introduced
Chrome wrap-over roof moldings
Beveled glass Opera Windows in B-pillars
Illuminated Entry System introduced
Quartz Day-Date Clock introduced
Leather Wrapped Sports Steering Wheel introduced
First year Bucket Seats/Console offered since 1973
First year floor shift available since 1957 (optional)
Engine temperature gauge made standard again
1978 Select Another Year
The most exclusive new Thunderbird you can own. The 1978 Diamond Jubilee Edition.

1978 would set a new all-time Thunderbird sales record for the second time in as many years. To date, that record still stands.

Median household income in 1978 was $15,064; Sony introduced the Walkman, the first portable stereo; Dallas defeated Denver in the Super Bowl (27-10); "Midnight Express" and "Heaven Can Wait" were hot at the movie theaters; Normal Rockwell passed away.
1978 Ford Thunderbird T-Roof Convertible
Best sales year in Thunderbird's history
Diamond Jubilee Edition
T-Roof Convertible introduced
Sports Decor Group introduced
Chrome bezels added around headlamp doors
Multicolor Striped Cloth Upholstery introduced
40-Channel Integrated CB Radio option introduced
Power Radio Antenna returned to options list
Russet interior trim color introduced
6 New exterior paint colors offered
4 New vinyl roof colors offered
1979 Select Another Year

A partial core meltdown occurred in Unit 2 at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Generating Station in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, March 28, 1979; just twelve days earlier, on March 16, 1979, Jane Fonda's new movie, "The China Syndrome" was dealt with an accident at a fictional nuclear power plant...the movie was a blockbuster. The United States population was 225,055,487; Life expectancy was 73.9 years; a first class postage stamp cost $0.15.
Image: 1979 Ford Thunderbird Heritage Edition
Heritage Edition
Final year for T-Roof Convertible
Last year for mid-size Thunderbird
New spoiler under front bumper introduced
8 New exterior paint colors offered
5 New vinyl roof colors offered
4 New interior trim colors offered
Standard front seat center arm rest
Taillamps separated with single back-up light in between
New bolder box-textured grille with 4x4 pattern

The 1980 Thunderbird would be a much changed car, once again becoming smaller to compete in a market that was rapidly changing. Another major change would take place for 1983, which would see improved sales but not good enough to prevent Ford from dropping the line after 1997. A two passenger Thunderbird that was styled to be reminiscent of the classic models was introduced in 2002 amid great excitement, but this would not last as the model was again dropped in 2005.

What happens next is anyone's guess, but we predict the Thunderbird will return...
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