Special: Ford Thunderbird

Hey guys, welcome back, today is going to be a special post of CIDLTEL/CILTED, I'm going to move away from my formula of looking at just one car and focus on several. I'm going to be doing these specials in the future, so if you like this new format, I'll be bringing it back. So today, we're going to look at a name that's gone through a lot in its life. The Ford Thunderbird.

This car has been through a lot in its life, changing role after role after role, it's a shame that it's no longer around but it lived a very interesting existence. So I'm going to start from the top and end at the bottom, and give my thoughts on each of the generations.

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First Generation:

Let's start off on a high not shall we? The first generation was originally built as a Corvette fighter and man did it deliver, first off this thing is nice looking, I don't like American cars from the 50s at all, but this is one of the few that I love. It's simple, it's elegant, and even when it does have some of the clichés of car design (tailfins, chrome) it does it a lot better than most. It's performance is great, it's design has aged well, it's a great car, and my favorite of the T-Birds.

Second Generation:

Oh Ford, what the hell were you thinking? Whoever thought this was the right direction to take the T-Bird needed to be tarred and feathered, where the first gen managed to look completely different, this monstrosity looked like every other big gaudy car on the road. I don't like this generation at all, it looks wrong, its the antithesis of everything right about the first generation, and worst of all, it doesn't stand out from the competition as well as it could've been. This is a bust.

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Third Generation:

Talk about learning from your mistakes, this generation is definitely a step up from last gen, and I like the fact Ford made it back to a two-door, but I'm a bit confused about it. It seems like it's in a weird place where it can't tell if it's a sports car or a personal luxury cruiser, and that kind of muddles the purpose a bit. As for the styling, I do like it, I won't say it's a fantastic design, but it's got its own character and the sleek Lincoln like styling is very nice. Overall, not my favorite, but it does have a charm to it.

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Fourth Generation:

Now where getting into the big stuff, this is where I would argue the T-Bird started becoming a luxury car rather than a Corvette fighter, whether that decision was good or bad depends on your point of view, but I honestly don't mind. I do think there are some nice styling cues to the Fourth Gen, the back end is a lot nicer than the cars from before and even though the front end isn't as nice as the third gen, it does look nice. I don't know if I would call the Fourth gen a favorite of mine, but I do like it.

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Fifth Generation:

All aboard the Land Barge! If I could ever point to a car that strayed as far away from the original idea of what the T-Bird started as, it would be this bad boy. A giant luxury couch with suicide doors, a lot different than what came out in 1955 wouldn't you say? All joking aside, I really like this generation, the styling is probably the most unique out of the T-Birds and it manages to work so well, the grill, the subtle rear doors, the general shape, it all works. It may not be what the car originally started out as, but it managed to carve out a nice niche of its own, and it's got character and class where it counts, definitely an old luxury cruiser that deserves a second look.

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Sixth Generation:

Riddle me this, when has a car become too big? If you answered, "when it's as large as a Lincoln Mark IV", you'd be right. This car was friggin massive when it came out back in 72 and this is probably the last Big T-Bird that was offered. With that said, you may think I'm crazy, but I like this generation. It may be huge, but then again I'm a sucker for Malaise era La-z Boys on wheels, and it does manage to look different. However I like the 72 model the best, it's got a lot of clean design cues that were sadly lost with the large bumpered, eggcrate grilled versions from 73 onward (Thanks a lot federal regulations).

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Seventh Generation:

This was the first of the downsized T-birds back when Ford realized they needed to tone everything down in order to meet gas prices. Personally I'm not a fan, while I respect the decision to downsize the car and bring it back to its roots, I think the styling looks off. It seems like they tried to still give it a luxury vibe but unlike the Lincoln Mark V, it doesn't look as refined as a small car or as luxurious and grandiose as a bigger luxury car, so the result is this weird hybrid that just looks odd. Some may like it, but I just don't get it.

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Eighth Generation:

Excuse me a moment.

*Walks away from computer*

*Vomits violently off-screen*

*Sits back down*

Sorry about that.

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Ninth Generation:

Ah the Fox body, my old nemesis. This is a car that is very fondly remembered, to the point where many feel it was the best iteration since the 55-57 years, I can see where their coming from, but I don't car for it. Don't get me wrong, I think the performance of this car is awesome, and I like the fact Ford went back to its roots. But I don't know, I can't really dig it, maybe its just the fact that its on the fox body, and with the exception of the Lincoln Mark VII and 84-87 Continentals, fox bodies always looked to me like they were designed on an Etch-a-Sketch, they always looked a bit too boxy and oddly proportioned for my tastes (which is why I can't dig the third gen Mustang). I'm not calling it a bad car, I think its a great performance vehicle, but the styling doesn't do it for me.

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Tenth Generation:

Now this is what I'm talking about. The tenth generation is probably my second favorite generation of T-birds, the 1990 Super Coupe was a car I thought about as a potential option, I love this gen. While the redesigns from 94 on look kind of odd, the 1989-1991 models still hold up well today, the MN12 platform was one of ford's best designs and I really like the lines and shape of this car. It's a bargain performance, it looks nice, it's easy to maintain, what can I say? The MN12 T-birds rock!

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Eleventh Generation:

I don't really need to say anything do I? All I can say is, if you wanted the T-Bird to last longer Ford, ya dun goofed.

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Overall, if I had to pick my favorite generations, it would probably the first and tenth, with the sixth and fifth following behind, the fourth, third, and ninth generations being respectable but not fantastic, and the second, eleventh, and eighth sitting at the bottom of the scum bucket.

What do you guys think? What are your favorite T-bird generations? Tune in next time when I'll do my next installment of CILTED when I look at an odd car that's been the butt of a lot of jokes.

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