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Pick of the Day: 1970 Ford Thunderbird Landau

Bunkie’s Last Stand


The drive for longer/lower/wider in Detroit in the mid/late 1960s created some memorable automobiles, but it’s arguable that it was a positive thing. Especially in the moment when government regulations were creeping in, it’s entirely possible that the trend was a negative aspect in the evolution of personal luxury models. Our Pick of the Day, a 1970 Ford Thunderbird Landau two-door, shows how the personal luxury car from Dearborn weathered the new decade before finding new success with a 1972 redesign. It’s listed for sale on by a dealership in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Click the link to view the listing)

Thunderbird folks have names for different generations:

  • 1955-57: Classic Bird
  • 1958-60: Square Bird
  • 1961-63: Bullet Bird
  • 1964-66: Flair Bird
  • 1967-71: Glamour Bird
  • 1972-76 Big Bird
1967 Ford Thunderbird Landau two-door

When the 1967 Thunderbird was introduced, it was readily apparent it was larger and more luxurious than before, though it was less sporty. In many ways, it looked like a show car that came to life, especially with the wide-mouth grille hiding quad headlamps with a distinctive jutting  “lip” that give the impression of the front end popping out from the fenders. The full-width looped taillights were another fancy element (sequential, of course!). Inside, styling was more traditional to the Thunderbird’s lineage.

The body styles were also shuffled, with the convertible disappearing and a four-door Landau replacing it, the first time a four-door Thunderbird was ever offered. The four-door Landau even featured suicide doors, something that was a signature of its upscale cousin, the Lincoln Continental.

Power among the first three years evolved from FE-series 390 and 428 V8s to the 385-series 429 Thunder Jet. This engine was the only one available during Thunderbird’s 1970 restyle. The hidden headlights were tossed, while the coupe was given a semi-fastback roofline. A protruding proboscis (aka “beak”) was the most apparent feature up front, rumored to be instigated by Ford President “Bunkie” Knudsen, a former general manager of both Pontiac and Chevrolet. The front valence also was painted body color, giving the Thunderbird a striking, almost bumper-less appearance.

There were several packages to personalize your Thunderbird. Order the Special Brougham Option for two-doors (Thunderbird and Thunderbird Landau) and you’d get high-back bucket seats, center console, three-spoke Rim-Blow steering wheel, cut-pile carpeting, rear center armrest, door pull handles, and courtesy lights, but outside you’d find auxiliary grill lamps, color-keyed wheel covers, moldings that included color-keyed inserts, and color-keyed front stone shield and deflector.

Another way to make your Thunderbird fancy was with the Brougham Interior Trim package, which gave you a choice of rich quilted cloth and vinyl, or vinyl with leather seating surfaces, plus special door trim, wood-tone appointments, cut-pile carpeting, courtesy lights, Rim-Blow steering wheel, and rear seat fold-down armrest.

This 67,000-mile 1970 Ford Thunderbird Landau two-door is in the stunning color combination of what appears to be Burgundy Fire metallic with light tan vinyl top. A Ginger Brougham interior is furnished in cloth and vinyl. Like all Thunderbirds, it is powered by the 429 V8 and automatic transmission. We spy the optional Driver’s Control Console Armrest with power windows, power door locks, power seats, and outside remote-control mirror, cruise control, AM/FM radio, rear defogger, and turbine wheel covers, though the seller doesn’t indicate much otherwise.

These Thunderbirds are often squeezed between the earlier 1967-69 Glamour Birds and the redesigned 1972-76 Big Birds, both of which sold better. With sleeker looks and the last of the sequential taillights, they are an interesting and underrated collectible. At $13,970, affordable too!

Click here for this Pick of the Day.

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


    • You follow the links in the story to get to the sale ad, which has contact info at the bottom. You can also click on the pictures here to get to the ad.

  1. The “beak” is a matter of personal taste but I love the look of the ‘70 bird in this roofline. Great interior as well, maybe not the most ergonomic but a helluva lot more stylish than most of today’s offering. And a standard 429 under the hood to keep the drive interesting. Seems like a lot of car for the money. .

  2. I am a total Ford man ever since 1966 when my oldest brother bought a new 1966 black on black Mustang. It had a 289 4 barrel carburetor and a 4 speed manual transmission with a really cool chrome shifter on the floor. The Thunderbird was a very unique car. While it evolved from generation to generation, there was always enough strong traits and features carried into each generation. While I love every generation, I do have my favorites. To start with, the 1957 model year was my first favorite, I was born in Detroit in March of 1955, the 57 was just fantastic. The 57 Thunderbird resembled the full-size 57 Ford Fairlane 500. I thought that that was an excellent idea, and it was a carry over trait from the 55 and 56 Thunderbirds. I like the glamor birds, and I also liked the Big Birds. I could go into my other favorites, but there are so many that it would take too long. The 67 Thunderbirds were gorgeous. Everything about them is beautiful and elegant, including the interior, few cars can compete with the excellent dashboards from 67 to 71. The back seat was great looking, and was very comfortable. I loved how the back seats curved around to the side panels. No other car had a more beautiful interior. I actually owned a 1970 just like the one featured here. It had the 429 cubic inch V8, it provided excellent power, the duel exhaust sounded great and yet sofistcated. The problem was it would only 8 to 10 mpg, not the car during an oil crisis. The color really plays a huge part in the look of the car. If you get a chance to see a black one, you will see what I mean. Now for the controversial front beak, I’m in the small group of people who thought the beak fit the name of the car perfectly. The way it blended into the hood made the Thunderbird very powerful look, even when standing still. Cars like the early 70s Thunderbirds, we’re never really appreciated because of the poor gas mileage. I hated the effects of the 1973 fall oil crisis, that entire situation killed the traditional American dream. The gas lines, the closing stations, the maximum 55 mph national speed limit was impossible to maintain, I got so many speeding tickets it was killing me. Never before were are cars more capable, and the interstates were built for high speeds and we couldn’t enjoy any of what we had. We were even told not to put up Christmas lights. The fools in charge never realized how little power the Christmas lights use. It was a very dark time in America. None of us ever saw coming. Like I said, none of it made any sense, and on top of all that, there never really was a fuel shortage, it was an emotional reaction that the oil producing countries pulled to show they had the leverage to do it. Sure the US needed the additional fuel, but that’s another discussion for another time. The bottom line is the Ford Thunderbird has always been a pivotal car. And it certainly wasn’t the first car built by the Ford Motor Company to achieve such a great reputation. After reading my post, you will notice that I always use the full Thunderbird name. I do that to show respect to the status that the Thunderbird has achieved. The last Thunderbirds were built in 2005, and we all still love then, and oh by the way, that respect belongs to the Mustang, the Lincoln Continentals and Marks, and of course the F-series trucks. By now it’s pretty obvious that I only have owned Ford Motor Company vehicles, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I also have a great respect for the Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler introduced so many new engineering firsts that are now industry standards. Chrysler has had it’s ups and downs, but I’m glad Chrysler is still with us. GM on the other hand, could become the world’s biggest bakery and no one would miss them. Instead of being known for their cars, they have the reputation for making one bad decision after another.

    • Kinda the end of an era, personal luxury BEASTS before NHTSA, insurance lobby & OPEC turned domestic industry upside down & handed it over to the Japanese – along with this Pontiac Grand Prix had a beak, Riviera had boat tail (decades & $10s of million$ b4 Rolls) & Chevrolet downsized with Monte Carlo even b4 fwd. My Mother’s idiot 2nd husband had downsized Cutlas Supreme when it was bestseller, highlight of his life & way too good for him (as was she).

      • To be clear, Detroit handed the industry to the Japanese, who seem to have earned it in ways that the Euros (aside of VW) were not able to.


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