The 1959 Ford Thunderbird convertible was also known as the "Square Bird."
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Determined to make the next-generation Thunderbird profitable, Ford aimed for the broadest audience possible. By 1959 the addition of two rear seats, longer and dramatically lowered bodywork, and a hardtop model paid off. Ford sold more than 76,000 "Square Birds" that year, 19,000 of which were convertibles -- nearly as many convertibles as the Little Bird's best year.
But the convertible Square Bird almost never was. Because of the limited funding available for the 1958 Thunderbird redesign, a decision was made early in the process to eliminate the convertible body from the line. Design work had begun on a hardtop with power-retractable roof panels as an alternative to a true convertible. Engineering issues halted development of the retractable roof, and the convertible was resurrected.
The 1959 Ford Thunderbird's 300-horsepower V-8 performed
sluggishly for its time.
Though low and sleek, base Thunderbirds were not stellar performers, even by the standards of the day. Early tests with the standard 300-horsepower, 312-cubic-inch V-8-equipped Square Bird resulted in 0-60 mph times of 13.5 seconds. But by 1959 an optional 350-horsepower, 430-cubic-inch V-8 would propel the T-Bird to 60 in a livelier 9.9 seconds.
The 1959 Ford Thunderbird convertible is a real prize find for collectors today.
Thunderbird began life as a convertible, by 1958 the roofless T-Birds
would account for less than a quarter of production. Later generations
would see a continuing decline in convertible T-Birds until the coupe
took over completely for 1967. Today however, it is the convertible
Square Birds that are prized by collectors.
For more classic convertibles of the 1950s, see:
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