The 1977 Ford Thunderbird was simply a badass behemoth of the road in its day. The first year of the seventh generation of Thunderbirds, it was designed to be a full-sized, sporty luxury car. In ‘77, the Thunderbird’s transformation from previous models was apparent in many ways.
Its headlamps and their retractable covers distinguished the car in dramatic fashion, making it appear as though the car was winking when they were turned on and off. The Thunderbird’s huge engine hood was over accentuated by its abrupt shortened trunk and rear end. Its design was sleek, with some very sharp styling by Ford, and it was on the market right before the country demanded smaller, more fuel-efficient and aerodynamic vehicles.
My experience with the ‘77 Thunderbird started when my father came home with one on a warm spring day. It was an all black, two-door brute that had T-tops, luxurious deep red leather seats, and a 351W V8 engine. It also had an 8-track player, which was cool, but rarely got used, as dad was more of a talk-radio man. The interior was pure luxury with all the bells and whistles: big chrome metal buttons for its power seats, power windows—power everything.
“The interior was pure luxury with all the bells and whistles…”
If a Cadillac and a Corvette had a child, the ‘77 Thunderbird would have been one of their offspring. It was a combination of extravagant elegance and speed. When the engine started, it roared, especially when it was let out onto the highway. “Fast” as a description would be an understatement, as 80 miles per hour (mph) felt like 55 mph, because of its presence and the way it handled without hesitation, as you hit the gas. It was a girthy solid car that at a quick glance could have easily been mistaken for a speed boat, had you parked it lakeside with the T-tops off.
“It was a combination of extravagant elegance and speed. When the engine started, it roared, especially when it was let out onto the highway.”
It was a lot of car back then, which I especially found out when my father let me use it after I first got my driver’s license. I waxed that car to a fine shine on almost every sunny day and eventually drove it to school. I changed the oil and air filter frequently, just for fun. I often dropped octane booster in the gas tank to give it more power, so I thought. At night, the full-width taillights were so big and bright that it seemed to illuminate the entire street when pulling up or showing off to a friend.
A quick Google search reveals what’s left of the ‘77 Ford Thunderbirds in the used market. Many of these old thunderbeasts have obviously seen better days. It seems rare to find one left that still has the old T-tops intact. A lot have missing headlights or broken door handles.
Personally, I’d love to see a trend of ‘77 Thunderbirds parked in home garages as project cars. However, I wonder if the nostalgia for these old beasts is in my heart and mind alone? Is anyone else out there pining for an old luxury sports car like me? Let us know in the comments section.