The third generation of the Ford Thunderbird is a personal luxury car produced by Ford for the 1961 to 1963 model years. It featured new and much sleeker styling (done by Bill Boyer) than the second generation models. Sales were strong, if not quite up to record-breaking 1960, at 73,051 including 10,516 convertibles. A new, larger 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE-series V8 was the only engine available (in 1961). The Thunderbird was 1961’s Indianapolis 500 pace car, and featured prominently in US President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade, probably aided by the appointment of Ford executive Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense.
Changes for 1963 were relatively mild. An AM radio and a remote driver’s side mirror became standard, while vacuum assisted door locks and an AM/FM radio were added as options.
1963’s sale numbers were somewhat down, at 63,313 units. The Landau became the second most important model after the standard hardtop, at 12,193 sold. Landaus added simulated wood grain interior trim to go along with the landau top. In addition, a Limited Edition “Principality of Monaco” Landau model was introduced. This Maroon vinyl roof with Corinthian White exterior body with a white leather interior, dark red carpeting with rosewood dashboard applique instead of the stainless steel insert was personalized with a plaque displaying the owner’s name and the car’s limited production number, was limited to and sold only 2,000 units. Only 5,913 convertibles and 455 Sports Roadsters sold, indicating a decline in convertible popularity at the time.
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