If you’ve ever wanted to read a definitive guide to Ford’s sportscar of over 50 years, this is it. At first the price might be off-putting, but when you start to flick through the pages you can appreciate why it is set so high, and how much of a bargain that really is when you consider the material within the 256 pages.
Author Brian Long is a motoring historian and has written nearly 40 books, and his authority shows throughout the book. Brian was given full co-operation from the Ford Motor Company and his T-bird book could be considered a bible, being the only book you’d probably need on the subject.
The book has year-by-year coverage of production models, with special variants also covered, some 500 pictures, most of which are color and include some fascinating rare prototype shots. In addition to the photographs, advertising and brochures have been used throughout, to further enhance the nostalgic appeal of the book. There’s even a full listing of production figures.
This really is everything an enthusiast would want to know in one book.
American Car World rating: 5 stars
The Automobile, September 2007
The Thunderbird was Ford’s personal two-seater answer to the more overtly sporting Corvette launched a year earlier in January, 1953. While the GM product had started life with a straight-six, the T-bird came in with a V-8, to which Chevrolet responded the following model year with the small-block V-8. Both set out to knock the British sporting imports.
Despite the fact that this has been written in Japan, where Brian Long has lived for many years, such are the wonders of modern communication that it could well have been compiled in Detroit, so complete is the information. It is fully illustrated with drawings, photographs and brochures model year by year from conception in October 1952, to the 12th generation at the end of 1997. Retro appeal brought the name back for the short-lived 13th generation from 2002-05, bringing the combined total to just over 4.4 million units in 47 production years. Its most popular model, averaging 319,000 a year, was the 8th generation of MY1977-79, when the car lost weight and departed from the short-wheelbase Lincoln appearance it had gradually acquired. Prior to that, production had averaged 60,000 or so, small beer in Detroit terms but relatively exclusive. Perhaps surprisingly, the annual numbers weren't affected by the arrival of the Mustang, which, to European eyes, was a fairly similar car, but in America it was half the T-bird's price, and not exclusive.
The author manages to present year-on-year changes without reading like a series of brochure updates by justifying the improvements with engineering reasons and enough comparisons with market rivals to keep it interesting to more than just T-bird lovers. You get to know what Ford was doing with its other models, too.
New Zealand Classic Car, September 2007 - New Zealand magazine
Surely one of the most attractive US cars since WWII is the original 2-seater Ford Thunderbird, produced from 1954 to ’57. The car immortalized in 'American Graffiti'.
Over four million Thunderbirds were sold in total and reading about the various versions in this excellent book is almost like a tour through US car styling of the past 40 years. Thunderbirds won Car of the Year awards a few times, many of the models were well written-up by US magazines, and the racing versions did well in NASCAR for a good few seasons.
This is the most comprehensive book, with hundreds of photos and lots of reprinted brochures (including some fascinating ones from Japan where the author now lives). Long also fits each year’s Thunderbird into US auto market developments at the time.
If you have or want to own or restore a ‘Bird, there’s every detail change for each year – including paint and upholstery colors. Well written and well illustrated, this is how a model ‘autobiography’ should be presented.