Many people think the '61 Thunderbird "bullet" body style is one of the most beautiful ever built by Ford. Certainly the '61-'63 T-birds are among the best-looking Fords ever. After checking out the car of Steve Marks of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with its subtle and tasteful modifications, it's easy to see why people feel this way.
From the distinctive grillework to the bullet-like profile and afterburner taillights, this 'Bird is a flamboyant design. Aero-streamlining and even Deco styling cues from the '30s and '40s combine with Jet Age influence from the '50s. The extraordinary result is a car that looks as good today as it did for its debut 46 years ago. When the example of this Thunderbird body style is a convertible, the top-down profile of the car is the ultimate in boulevard styling.
Everybody knows a Thunderbird is not a race car, particularly in its four-seat form. Rather, it was offered as a personal luxury sport coupe or convertible. Equipped with the famous 390 FE Thunderbird V-8 engine, the car is no slouch, and it was designed for high-speed turnpike cruising for hours on end. Stylish comfort for both driver and passenger were at the top of the design priority list. Just one look into the car's interior and this design philosophy is readily apparent. The sumptuous bucket seats impart a luxurious feel when combined with the wrap-around steel instrument panel and console. The striated steel trim continues the full length of the doors into the back seat. The overall effect is impressive. From the exterior and interior, the design excellence jumps out at you.
Steve performed a miracle transformation with this car using four other T-birds as donors-two convertibles and two hardtops, all from Brooklyn, New York. There were rusty floorpans, a cowling, and quarter-panels all needing replacement. Getting the convertible top working, as well as the many other complicated systems, was a Herculean effort made by Steve's shop of choice-Carlisle Customs and Classics' Vinny Scalavino. Steve tells us the car you see here is the result of two long years of nearly continuous effort. We congratulate him for saving 1 of just 10,516 Thunderbirds built in 1961 and say whole heartedly that his efforts have paid off handsomely.