Ford’s Thunderbird spans 11 generations and several thematic and mechanical variations. Keeping them straight, though, isn’t that hard because the collective Thunderbird enthusiast community has given each one a nickname. Yes, it’s part of the general habit we all have of delving into jargon, which acts as a conversational shorthand (which is good) but also makes it harder for newbies to understand what the heck everyone is talking about (which is bad).
Classic Bird (aka Early Bird, Little Bird, Baby Bird): 1955-’57
Thunderbird nicknames, however, are much easier than many other codewords, like the endless alphanumerics of BMW and Mercedes-Benz model generations. If, like me, you’re relatively uninformed on the full history of Ford’s personal-luxury legend, these appellations give context clues as to what each one generally looks like and what era it hails from. And with that easy entry point, you can then dive deeper into the details. So let’s take a quick tour of all 11 Thunderbird names and how they got that way.