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Thunderbird 1959 – 1961


Cosmetic body changes for the 1959 Thunderbird but for the first time the passenger compartment can be done in leather. This year Ford targets female buyers in the advertising campaigns. Showing beautiful women arriving at the country club in their new Thunderbird and it must have been a good idea because the sales doubled. The front suspension is the same but the rear is revised and the Hotchkiss drive with parallel leaf springs is the replacement. There is a new power available with the “code-3” option the MEL-series 430 cu in (7.0 L) V8 engine with 350 hp (261.1 kW) but very few cars are equipped with it. This is the largest engine sold by any American manufacturer in 1959.

Ford Thunderbird 1959© Randomshots | Dreamstime.com - Ford Thunderbird Photo

The 1960 model year is the last of the generation and there are just minor trim changes with record sales figures again achieved. A very rare option in 1960 is the “Golde Edition” sunroof with 2,530 models produced-Golde is the name of the German manufacturer.

Ford Thunderbird 1960 dash© Martince | Dreamstime.com - 1960\'s Ford Thunderbird Dash Photo

The Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation put in a special order in 1960 for two Thunderbird's to be made of stainless steel. In order to make these cars the Ford Co. had to use heavy gauge type 302 stainless to duplicate the mild steels weight, as a result all the 1960 body molds would be destroyed in the process. All the trim pieces are also made of stainless but a Type 430 is used. These two cars are still in existence and both were fully restored in the 1980’s and one of them can be seen in the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ford Thunderbird 1961© Kmm7553 | Dreamstime.com - Classic Ford Thunderbird Automobile Photo

The third generation “T”bird  is the pace car for the Indy 500 in 1961.. The then President John F. Kennedy is chauffeured through the Indy parade in a brand new convertible. Under the hood is only engine offered this year; to power the Thunderbird; the new FE-series 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8. This is the first and only year this engine is available for the Thunderbird. There are two versions of the 390 for the Thunderbird; the “R” code is slightly detuned to run on regular gas-it is equipped with a Holly four barrel and puts out 275 hp but this one is for export only and the special premium gas “Z” code version is for the domestic market, mounted with the same four Barrel Holly carburetor it will develop 300 hp. Both of these engine variations are factory equipped with duel exhaust pipes.


2 thoughts on “Thunderbird 1959 – 1961”


    1. I don’t know if Kennedy liked the ride but he rode in the Thunderbird when he attended the INDY 500 opening parade
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WWE Stars With Their Classic Muscle Cars – Here Are Our Best Picks

You cannot separate WWE stars from their classic muscle cars. Whether based on the fact that the cars are loud and fast, or just a general appreciation for the culture they represent, we can agree that they have quite good taste. Here are some favorites.

John Cena – 1966 Dodge Hemi Charger

Image by Gateway Classic Cars

 

Cena has quite the collection of classic muscle cars, from Plymouths to Ford and Dodge. However, this ride stands out from the rest just like its owner. A truly raw classic muscle car.

The Rock – Chevrolet Chevelle

Image by ADMCars.com

 

Having stared in several car movies including the Fast and the Furious franchise, he is no stranger to sweet rides. This particular car featured in the movie Faster. It is a combo of '71 & '72 body panels and a '71 chassis.

Hulk Hogan – 1994 Dodge Viper

Image by Gateway Classic Cars

 

Easily one of the most recognizable wrestlers of all time, Hogan went all out with custom painting of this machine to match his red and yellow colors with additional custom graphics and a Hulkmania logo.

Bill Goldenberg – 1970 Ford Mustang

 

Owning a decent collection of muscle cars, his favorite is a hard decision to make. However, the “Lawman” stands out with an impressive 780 HP.

Stone Cold – Pontiac Firebird formula

Image by Vanguard Motor Sales

 

Stone Cold is an avid car collector, owning a sweet and rare Steve Austin. He continues to purchase and collect vintage muscle cars.


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Ford Motors V8 Engine Series-MEL-FE-FT Families part 2 of 3 1958-’76

The 410 cu in (7.0 L) can produce 345 hp (257.266 kW) at 4600 rpm and would deliver a walloping 475 ft-lb (644.01 N-m) of torque to the wheels at 2600 RPM. This variation was initially only available for the short lived Edsel in the ’58 and ’59 model year, but the Mercury Parklane is powered by the 410 engine through 1967.

1964 Fairlane 4

The standard equipment engine for the uptown Lincoln and Continental brands is the 430 cu in (7.4 L) from 1958 through ’65. This large engine could also be ordered optionally for the smaller but still plushy equipped Mercury from ’58 until the end of the 1960 model year. The 1959 and ’60 Thunderbird could also have the 430 engine, with the alternate moniker of the MEL engine “Bulldozer”, justly applied. The 430 has a stroke of 3.7” which it shares with the 410, but the 430 bore is larger at 4.30 inches (109.2 mm).  Ford takes top spot again in 1958 with the Super Marauder option for the 430 which includes three two barrel carburetors to produce 400 hp (298. 27 kW) and is the first American made production engine to achieve such a high rating.  The carburetors are three Holley 2300 models for the complete three year production run although the engines 10.51:1 compression ratio in ’58 is down to a lower 10.0:1 through the 1959 model year. The horse power ratings also decline from a high point of 400 hp (261 kW) in ’58 to a low of 315hp (235 kW) throughout 1960. A Lincoln Mark III could have been optioned with a Holley 4150 four barrel carb with a 590 flow rating.

1965 Ford Galaxie 500

Some 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark lll came brand new with the Holly 4150 4 barrel carburetor, list1405 rated at 590 flow rate. The 430 engine has new pistons for 1963 and the new 10.1:1 compression rating kicks the horse power rating of the three two barrels back up to 345 (257 kW) in the same year.

The hot rodding life of the 430 MEL engine is not as long as the TE it is a colorful one. Bertram Yachts made a name for themselves when the twin MEL 430’s powering their ship brought them first place in the first Miami to Nassau race. Johnny Beauchamp took a photo second place in his “T”bird 430-just a hair behind Lee Petty in the 1959 Daytona 500 race. Holman Moody raced a number of Thunderbirds with the 430 under the hood and with at least one of these cars surviving until today. The supercharged Lincoln powered dragster with Rodney Singer piloting and pit crew headed by Karol Miller won the NHRA Nationals top Eliminator class in 1959. The car makes history as the first supercharged winner in NHRA history. There still may be an unknown number of these unique modified race cars still in modestly good condition. The intake manifolds, pistons and heads are major items but still undergo frequent designing changes mean there are few mass produced aftermarket speed equipment items for the 430. The specialized, Edelbrock did make a 6x2 ported manifold plus a water cooled marine manifold called the M4 and Weiand manufacture a 8x2 manifold for drag applications as well. There are/were also oversized pistons for early drag racers with blown 430’s, including the “Forged True” brand made by the now defunct Jahns Pistons. The Forged true piston is precisely 13:1 and .150 inches over standard size and were guaranteed to help make the engine purr-form at high revs. There is also a number of unsubstantiated reports of other unique and interesting ideas, add-ons and adjustments to make your 430 turn in quicker times that have been tried over the years.

In 1966 the 430 is retired and replaced by the MEL 462 cu in (7.6 L) engine which has a longer stroke and a larger bore than its predecessor. The new version has a Carter AFB four barrel carburetor with hydraulic lifters and will produce 340 hp (254 kW) while developing as much as 485 lb-ft (658 N-m) of torque. This engine is factory equipment for the Lincoln Continental and will be replaced by the Ford 385 engine family at the end of 1968.

https://www.musclecarfan.com/ford-motors-v8-engine-series-mel-fe-ft-families-part-1-of-3-1958-76/

https://www.musclecarfan.com/ford-motors-v8-engine-series-mel-fe-ft-families-part-3-3-1958-76/


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