When I was only a year old, my grandparents bought a -then- brand new 1985 Thunderbird. Loaded. Some of my first memories are of my grandmother lifting me up so that I could press the buttons on the driver’s side keyless entry pad. Forever etched in my mind is the “plunk” of the trunk popping open when I’d hit the right buttons.
Several years later, they traded the ‘85 for a -again new- 1990 Thunderbird. I remember how radical the styling of that car seemed in 1990. The extreme rake of the windshield and backlight (which is a steep angle, even by today’s styling standards), the slim headlights, and the enjoyment that I got from using all of the power accessories. Fast forward to 2002 as I was preparing to graduate from high school. My grandfather having passed away, my grandmother no longer driving, I purchased the Thunderbird from my grandmother and though it wasn’t my first car, it was my favorite.
That was eight and a half years ago. I’ve owned four other Thunderbirds since then, but the ’90 model that my grandparents bought is still my daily driver and still my most cherished. I currently own a 1994 Thunderbird Super Coupe and a 1972 F-100 4×4, both of which are project cars. While the other cars were able to survive years of abuse from previous owners because of their excellent engineering, that was only a piece of why I elected to save them.
Both of my Thunderbirds and my F-100 were worth saving, resurrecting, because they were an entire package: engineering, looks, heritage, functionality, all of the things that make an automobile more than a utilitarian appliance. They’re all there, which is why my grandparents owned Thunderbirds, and why I still love Fords today.