1960 Ford Thunderbird

The first postwar sliding steel sunroof was offered on the 1960 T-Bird, which had otherwise been carried over from 1959 with few changes.

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For 1960, Ford introduced the first sliding metal sunroof on the 1960 Ford Thunderbird. It looked good, and it worked well.

However, the sunroof was not by any means the first choice of product planners, many of whom wanted a retractable hardtop, like the big Ford Skyliner.

But the engineering would have been tremendously complicated owing to the Squarebird's short deck, and even the conventional soft top proved a complicated affair, taking up most of the room under the decklid when lowered.

Planners also considered a "roof incorporating flippers," probably indented sections that telescoped back or lifted when the door was opened. This idea was also rejected for reasons of cost and complexity.

Ford's attention to detail was evident in the presence of a roof-mounted chrome railing, which directed wind and noise away from the passenger compartment when the hatch was open. Sunroofs were fitted to 2159 standard hardtops plus 377 with the optional 430-cid engine -- fewer than three percent of production.

What were the faults of the Squarebird? Roadability, certainly. It was far from "the kind of handling car it should be," Motor Trend wrote in 1960. "Steering is slow and not precise...it has no reputation for...the dimensional attributes of a compact and yet lacks some of those same characteristics of maneuverability." A curious assessment from the magazine which two years earlier called it the "Car of the Year."

But the Squarebird was notable for several things, and Motor Trend knew it: "What it does have is originality, freshness, and newness of concept...It has, more than any current domestic car, the spirit and quality that made the classic roadsters and tourers of the 1930s such memorable favorites."

Continue reading to find out about the 1960 Ford Thunderbird specifications.

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