It was not until 1995 that the Vintage Thunderbird Club International (VTCI) accepted the 1967-1971 Ford Thunderbird as collectibles as worthy as the 1958-1966 models. In the meanwhile, owners of later Thunderbirds had formed their own clubs, including the Heartland Thunderbird Club and the International Thunderbird Club.
The wraparound "love seat" rear bench in this 1969
Thunderbird was a trademark of Thunderbird style.
"The 1967s had much-improved engineering, much better styling, and trick goodies like hideaway headlamps that were all the rage at the time," said John Ryan, VTCI's technical adviser for the 1967-1971 generation. "But dropping the convertible seemed to tick off the diehard Thunderbird fans. They were still mourning the loss of the [1955-1957] two-seater."
VTCI President Alan H. Tast sees it differently. "The Thunderbirds in that period, 1967-1971, were trying to be a luxury car and a better-proportioned family car, trying to compete against the Rivieras and the Eldorados, and just couldn't generate the enthusiasm that the GM products could." Yet, this very "conservatism of the Thunderbird design" drove its commercial success. "They knew that going way out on the deep end with concept styling was not the way to go. They learned that in 1961."
Yet as the 1967-1971 cars have aged, Thunderbird enthusiasts have softened on them. "In recent years," added Ryan, "interest surrounding these cars has increased a lot. But guess what? There aren't any left. The 1958-1960s were being gathered in as early as 1968 by the founders of VTCI. These were eight- to 10-year-old used cars then, and many could be had in nice shape, whereas the 1967-1971s were great road cars and led hard lives as a result. Owners literally drove them into the graveyard."
Ryan reported that 899 of the 1967 two-door hardtops are known to survive and estimated similar numbers for the 1968-1971 models. Four-doors, he observed, "seem harder to find." His own 1967 hardtop was recently appraised at $8,500, and other Thunderbirds from this era have appeared in Hemmings Motor News with asking prices as high as $10,000.
To find models, prices, and production numbers for the 1967-1971 Ford Thunderbird, continue to the next page.
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