The original Thunderbird was actually drawn by a designer who began his career at General Motors. Bill Boyer, the artist responsible for the T-bird’s iconic styling, moved from GM to Ford in the early 1950s and played a key role in the car’s look until the mid-1960s.
Bill passed away in October 2002 after having retired from Ford of Australia. In recognition of that anniversary, let’s take a closer look at one of Bill’s creations.
“Vehicle history and title documents going back to 1970 show this being a South Carolina vehicle until titled in Illinois in 2021 and now in Montana,” the listing states.
This Thunderbird comes from the model’s third generation and was marketed as a personal luxury car. The “luxury” classification was easy to justify, since the Thunderbird came standard with features that were options on other cars. Examples were power brakes, power steering, and back-up lights.
This example from 1961 looks well-kept in its Monte Carlo Red (color code J), and the body is accentuated by color-matched rear fender skirts and a newer convertible top. Footwork comes from a set of Kelsey-Hayes style wire wheels with knock-off spinner hubcaps and Coker wide whitewalls.
Under the hood, a numbers-matching 390cid FE-series V8 is mated to a rebuilt three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission. Recent maintenance per the seller included replacement of the fuel tank and sending unit, and the car has been worked on by a reputable Ford technician. My favorite photo in the listing shows the car comfortably cruising along the interstate. The true joy in owning a classic car, after all, is being behind the wheel!
The interior features Ford’s famous “swing-away” steering wheel as discussed in an article from last year about a Thunderbird from the same era. Another interior innovation that debuted with this model was a “floating” rearview mirror, attached directly to the windshield itself. This is common on modern cars, but in its time was a unique design from Bill and his team.
This car comes as part of a true “package deal,” complete with spare parts and documentation. Included with the sale are a reproduction owner’s manual, service books, a car cover, an extra radio, spare keys, a front license plate bracket, and more as outlined in the listing.
The seller is asking $46,990 for this Big Bird that put Bill Boyer on the automotive map.