Rollin Willingham (pronounced “Raw-lin”) has a whole fleet of old cars that are ready to hop in and cruise, and each of them has its own soul and character. He calls this ’48 Ford Super Deluxe his “classy grocery getter.” But it wasn’t always that way.
When Rollin got the sedan, it was anything but classy. He had just lost another of his classics to an accident that totaled it when a friend offered up this grungy sedan at a good price. Rollin snatched it up to fill the newly empty hole in his lineup. But the car he brought home was barely running, and really ugly. The body was covered in old red primer, and the fenders were a different color. “I like patina,” says Rollin, “but this thing was ugly.”
Rollin is a professional car builder by day, and he got to work immediately on his new sedan as his busy schedule allowed. With friends and club members by his side, he began to sort the car out mechanically. The 239-inch 59A flathead stayed under the hood, but Rollin used a Speedway Motors kit to add an alternator which, along with a replacement wiring harness, converted the car to run 12 volts. The stock driveline lives on behind the flatmotor, but everything was tweaked, tuned, and repaired by Rollin to make the car a reliable driver. The stock stance was brought down in the rear with longer spring shackles, and the radial tires on steelies help it to run straight down the Phoenix freeways.
Rollin straightened out the body and shot it with a fresh coat of hot rod flat black. A few dings and imperfections remain to remind him that this car is meant to be a driver and not a showboat. The effect is that of a classy car that can be driven anywhere without losing sleep over rock chips, door dings, and rogue shopping carts.
2011-2014 Ford Mustang S197: A History & Evolution
The Mustang has a special place in the heart of America’s car culture. We all have a Mustang story, and it usually goes like this: “My [insert family member or friend] had a Mustang, and [insert fun memory].” The Mustang can accommodate a four-person family on an unforgettable trip across the country, or it can be used to merely run errands. What kid doesn’t want to go to school in a Mustang?
America’s Blue-Collar Performance Car
Anecdotes are common because the Mustang’s price is within reach for most American buyers. As a result, millions of Mustangs are in American driveways. Mustang ownership is accessible to both the blue-collar employee and the boss.
The Mustang’s affordability makes it an unpretentious option for those who enjoy driving. From the moment the Mustang rolled into the 1964 World’s Fair, Ford marketed the Mustang as a youthful alternative to contemporary ho-hum transportation. That included promoting the Mustang’s sporty nature through aftermarket performance parts. From 1964 to today, Ford has offered performance upgrades so that owners can get the performance they desire along with the satisfaction of installing the parts themselves.
The 2011–2014 Mustang carries on this tradition as a competent, capable platform upon which enthusiasts can build the performance car of their dreams and make memories for themselves and their families.
Bucking the Trend
In the decade following World War II, American manufacturing switched from churning out fighting machines to churning out consumer products. Meanwhile, returning soldiers’ families churned out babies.
In 1960, an engineer-turned-marketing genius named Lee Iacocca sniffed a coming opportunity: the surge of babies that clogged maternity wards in the late 1940s and 1950s were primed to make their mark on the world, rebel against their conservative parents, and buy a car. Iacocca, forever the salesman, wanted to pounce.
Small product glimmers, such as GM’s Corvair, hinted that customers yearned for smaller high-performance cars, and Iacocca knew it. He wanted Ford to build a hip, sporty car that would capture the imagination of these new buyers—and loosen the grip on their wallets.
However, Iacocca had a problem: Robert McNamara. McNamara came to Ford as 1 of 10 financial Whiz Kids (veterans of the US Army Air Forces management science operation called Statistical Control) that Henry Ford II hired to run his grandfather’s company in 1946.
It didn’t take the Whiz Kids long to realize that statistical control didn’t square with performance. That is, unless performance was of the financial kind. In wartime and in business, McNamara’s specialty was minimizing risks. The development of an entirely new, youth-oriented product with a Zeppelin-sized marketing budget was the antithesis of McNamara’s business philosophy.
Getting McNamara to accept Iacocca’s plan would be impossible. That is, until a young man from Massachusetts named John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States and asked McNamara to be his Secretary of Defense in 1961. With McNamara out as Ford’s president, Iacocca was unleashed. Thirty-seven years old and full of ideas, Iacocca grabbed the controls of Ford Division and swung it into the 1960s. Once Henry Ford II (the Deuce) was on board, Ford Motor Company went from selling reliable appliances into the era of total performance. The linchpin of Ford’s Total Performance program was Iacocca’s new car: the Mustang.
The idea of the Mustang didn’t arrive like a bolt of lightning in the night. Instead, it was like a building storm—a brainstorm of ideas from a group that Iacocca convened during a weekly dinner at Dearborn’s Fairlane Inn. The Fairlane Committee commissioned a survey to determine what baby boomers wanted in a car. The committee learned that buyers overwhelmingly valued fun things (bucket seats and manual transmissions) over sensible things (expanded interior room and low operating costs).
The drafting rooms and prototype shops got busy. The two-seat Mustang I concept car was spawned, and it was subsequently scrapped because it didn’t have the mass appeal that Iacocca envisioned. Market trends pointed toward young buyers who were single and young families looking to add a second car. This meant that interiors that prioritized comfort for rear-seat passengers weren’t a priority. Then came the Mustang’s 2+2 concept, which wasn’t exactly a four-seater, but rather it was a two-seater with two smaller back seats.
Meanwhile, Iacocca knew that future customers were roaming high-school hallways and time was running out before these baby boomers began car shopping. Iacocca wanted them buying Mustangs. To accelerate development and lower cost, Ford engineers borrowed parts from the Fairlane and Falcon. A focus group of couples from varying tax brackets was chosen to gauge their reaction to the Mustang prototype. Everyone was impressed with the long-hood, short-deck design of the new pony car. The low retail price sealed the deal.
Such was the reaction of the general public when the Mustang officially debuted at the World’s Fair in New York on April 17, 1964. A highly coordinated promotional campaign ensured the success of the Mustang. Thirty million people saw the Mustang unveiled the night before when Ford bought the 9 p.m. time slot on all three major TV networks.
Over the next two days, four million people flooded dealerships to see thousands of Mustangs that were already staged in dealerships across the country. Perhaps the campaign worked too well. According to legend, one dealership was forced to lock its doors to control the mobs of people that were hoping to see the new Mustang. In Garland, Texas, one eager buyer slept in his Mustang while his check cleared to ensure that no one bought the car out from under him—literally.
The Ford F150 trucks were introduced to the United States in 1948 and they were known as the Ford Bonus-Built trucks. They were built on a dedicated truck platform unlike earlier versions that were built from car chassis during the war. Ford’s very first truck was built in 1917 and it was based off the Model T and named the Ford Model TT. The truck had a cargo capacity of one ton back in the day, which, if you can imagine, was no small feat for that era.
The First Generation was between 1948 and 1952.
The first generation F-Series trucks carried the designations of F-1 through F-8. They were rated by weight as panel trucks, conventional trucks, school buses, cab-over-engine, and of course, the pickup truck. Each truck was equipped with a manual transmission, and they featured driver and passenger side windshield wipers and a foot-plunger windshield washer. This was pretty high-tech stuff back then, as well as quite an accomplishment for Ford.
To signify the importance of the Ford truck history: The 1948 F-Series line was Ford’s first post-war truck which debuted a year before Ford’s first post-war car. Henry Ford shut down all civilian production during WWII in order to produce vehicles that would support our allies and our troops. When the war ended, the F-Series trucks, along with the veterans, were the first to be recognized
The Second Generation was between 1953 and 1956.
It brought about a complete redesign of the F-Series. They received new engines, updated chassis, roomier interior and exteriors, options such as a radio, dome light, arm rests, and lighter- and the Series also underwent an important name change. It was during this period that the F-1 became the F-100 and the F-2 and F-3 merged to become the F-250 and the F-4 became the F-350. These designations remain in place to this day.
The Third Generation was between 1957 and 1960.
The 3rd Generation brought about a new, modernized body style where the front fenders became a part of the truck’s body and the hood was integrated into the bodywork to create a clamshell design that would remain a prominent feature of the truck for the next twenty years.
The cab-over F-Series was discontinued and was replaced by a tilt-cab C-Series that many may remember was used as a fire truck and heavy-duty delivery truck beginning in 1957. The C-Series production was discontinued in 1990. As another milestone for Ford, they began production of four-wheel-drive pickups in 1959.
The Fourth Generation was produced between 1961 and 1966.
Once again, a new style emerged and the look was noticeably different. In 1965 the Twin-I-Beam front suspension changed everything and it remained a part of the F-150 up to 1996 and up to 2016 on the F-250 and F-350 4×2. The addition of the Twin-I-Beam allowed the front wheels to run independently of one another giving it greater maneuverability and a much smoother
An F-Series 4-door-crew-cab model emerged in 1965 to compete with passenger cars and the 300 cubic inch 4.9L straight six was introduced and it remained in the F-Series trucks until 1996. In 1965, Ford introduced the name “Ranger” to its lineup.
It was previously a base model of the Edsel and in keeping with Edsel tradition, this, too, was said to be a little ahead of its time for 1965. It featured bucket seats from the Ford Mustang, detailed styling, softer suspension, and it brought sophistication to the pickup trucks of the day. The Ranger underwent many changes throughout the years and the last one was produced in the U.S. in 2011.
The Fifth Generation lasted between1967 and 1972.
The cab was roomier by 3″ than that of competitors and the truck came with a heavier frame. Between these years, there were 3 trim packages available: Base, Custom Cab, and Ranger. New safety features were added to the exterior to include reflectors to the rear of the truck bed. This was the first generation to offer factory installed air conditioning as opposed to dealer installation.
A new grill design was added in 1969 and a 302 Windsor V8 engine was optional. Also during these years, a new trim for the Ranger XLT was added as the top of the line. Other options included AM/FM radio. Ford discontinued the Low GVWR versions of the F-Series but the Camper Special F-250 was introduced in 1972. Remember the era of “The Camper”?
It is probably safe to say that we all know someone who had a camper attached to the bed of their pickup truck back in the day. And it is probably safe to say that there are numerous stories that will be passed down from generation to generation about how great they were and all the wonderful experiences that were involved.
The Sixth Generation would be the one that changed truck history forever, 1973 – 1979.
Significant changes and upgrades were given to the Series that included larger cabins, front disc brakes, a relocated gas tank outside the cab, improved heating and air, and more galvanized steel. Also during this time, the 4-wheel-drive SuperCab made its debut.
In 1975, the F-150 was introduced and has since gone on to become the best selling truck ever. Now, that’s grounds for bragging rights. In order to avoid certain emission control restrictions back in the day, the F-150 debuted between the F-100 and the F-250 and the rest is history. The Ford Bronco was redesigned into a variation of the F-Series in 1978 and featured a removable camper shell. In 1979, the 460 big block engine in the half ton truck saw its final year.
The Seventh Generation occurred between 1980 and 1986.
This generation received the first complete redesign since 1965 from the ground, up. Improved aerodynamics and fuel economy and both interior and exterior modifications were made. In 1983, diesel power was added to the F-Series. In 1984, a new high-output version of the 5.8L Windsor was introduced and 1985 saw the first year of electronic fuel injection for the 5.0L V8. In 1988, all other vehicles switched over to electronic fuel injection. In 1983, the F-100 halted production, placing the F-150 as the lightest pickup on the market. In 1986, the F-150 no longer offered “3-on-the-tree” manual shifting.
This generation was the first to include upscale amenities such as power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, interval windshield wipers, tinted windshield, locking gas cap, inside locking hood release, and so many other options and standards were available during this new, technologically-charged generation.
The Eighth Generation was between 1987 and 1991.
In the first year of this generation better aerodynamics included a rounded front clip and softer lines around fender arches and the rear bed and it sported an all new interior. The first 5-speed manual overdrive transmission was introduced in 1987 and 4-speeds were discontinued.
In 1989, a C6 3-speed automatic was replaced as a base automatic transmission by an E4OD, 4-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive unit. In 1987, the F-Series 4.9L inline 6 was converted to fuel injection and in 1988, the Ford F-150 became the first pickup truck that was sold as a non-carbureted engine. In 1989, the F-Series had been established as being the nation’s best selling vehicle.
The Ninth Generation was between 1992 and 1996.
The F-150 received a new facelift. The FlareSide bed was reintroduced since its retirement in 1987 as an option, and a lower hood line, more advanced aerodynamics, newly designed fenders and grille changes and interior upgrades were notable. This generation marked Ford’s 75th anniversary of its 1917 Ford Model TT and Ford offered an anniversary package on its 1992 F-Series that included a 75th Anniversary Special Logo.
The 1994 models offered an updated dashboard with the addition of a driver’s side airbag in the F-150. Also, a high mount, third brake stop light was included in the new look. New hi-tech options included remote keyless entry with alarm, power driver’s seat, and a compact disc player. By 1996, Ford had overtaken combined sales of Chevrolet and GMC for the first time in a decade by reaching the 800,000 mark.
The Tenth Generation occurred between 1997 and 2003.
This is where Ford made some major changes to its F-Series lineup and was basically split into two categories: F-150 became a contemporary personal use truck, while the F-250 and F-350 became classified as working class trucks. The 1997 F-150 would be re-introduced with the aerodynamics given to the Ford Taurus of 1986, making it much more streamlined for a better ride and greater fuel economy. The 4.9L inline 6 was replaced by a standard V6 engine.
Ford didn’t let the 50th Anniversary of the F-Series pass unnoticed, with numerous promotions depicting the inaugural 1948 version beside a new 1998 model.
A fully independent front suspension was added, and a new chassis shared only the transmission from previous years. Greater rear seat access was achieved by adding a rear-hinged (curb-side) door to all models. In 1999, the SuperCab had a fourth door added to it. As another Ford first, in 2001, the F-150 was the first of its size to offer four, full size doors. Motor Trend Magazine named the new F-150 as Truck of the Year in 1997 and sales of the F-150 surged from 750,000 to over 900,000 in 2001.
The EleventhGeneration was between 2004 and 2008.
The F-150 received an all new platform in 2004. Also in this generation, all F-150s were given four doors, regardless of their cab type. The Triton engine was also introduced in this year and a flex-fuel version of the 3-valve 5.4L Triton V8 became available in 2006. A navigation system became available for the first time as an option in 2006 on some models, including the Harley Davidson Special Edition trim.
The Ford F-150s of this generation not only received a “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Frontal Offset test-they also received “Best Pick.” They went on to earn the North America Truck of the Year award for 2004, was Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year for 2004, and won Car and Driver magazine’s Best Pickup Truck for 2004, and 2005.
The Twelfth Generation F-Series was produced between 2009 and 2014.
Beginning with 2009, there were many new upgrades to the interior and the exterior featured a new three-bar grille, roomier interior, a lighter weight chassis made from high-strength steel and a greater towing capacity. A V8 engine was standard on all F-Series models for the first time in history and no 6-cylinder was available.
In early 2011, a 3.5L direct-injected twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 was offered in the F-150 and all engines came equipped with a new six-speed 6R80 automatic transmission. Other notable changes included the previous generation’s short, rear opening doors that were replaced by standard length doors, and electric power-assisted steering became available on all models with the exception of the 6.2.
The Thirteenth Generation ran from 2015 to 2020.
Another Ford first was accomplished with the 2015 F-150 model when it became the very first pickup to receive Adaptive Cruise Control. This feature offers radar sensors embedded on the front of the truck that monitors the distance between the vehicle in front of you and yourself. If it senses you are too close, speed will automatically be decreased, forming a safe barrier.
The Ford F-150 also underwent a radical change in 2015 by dropping 750 pounds by switching from a steel body to that of all-aluminum. This was quite an accomplishment, considering nothing “looked” physically changed; however, the bulk of the frame remains high-strength steel.
Along with dropping a few pounds, a more efficient base engine was added to include a 3.5L V6 and also introduced for 2015 was the 2.7L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 and the 3.5L version. For those wanting more power, the 5.0L V8 is still available. Ford says the 2016 all-aluminum F-150 will be the most fuel-efficient truck ever. See-you can have your truck and drive it, too.
The Fourteenth Generation was launched in 2021
The fourteenth generation Ford F-Series is a range of produced by Ford, introduced for the 2021 model year.This was the first generation to include a fully electric pickup truck among the offerings with the F-150 Lightning model that will enter production in 2022.
Sharing a strong visual resemblance to the 13th generation, the 2021 F-150 underwent a redesign of 92% of its parts, carrying over only its cab and pickup box structure. Along with exterior design changes to enhance aerodynamics, many changes were made to the interior, adding fold-flat front seats and larger touchscreens (including a fully digital instrument panel).
The powertrain line is largely carried over from the previous generation, with a 3.3-liter V6, 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6s, a 5.0-liter V8, and a 3.0-liter diesel V6 However, the 5.0-liter V8 receives a new cylinder deactivation system, called Variable Displacement Engine technology, similar to GM’s Active Fuel Management and Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System. The six-speed automatic is dropped, with all engines paired to a 10-speed automatic.
Dubbed PowerBoost, an optional gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain was introduced for the first time in a Ford light truck, pairing an electric motor with the 3.5-liter V6.
They say veterans proudly wear their scars and decorations for all to see, and that apparently goes for cars, too, not only for the humans that have served in wars.
In the world of cars, only the ones that get to race end up becoming veterans, as you can’t really slap that moniker on your daily. And in most recent times, one didn’t get to look and feel to us as veteran as the Ford we have here.
Born in 1938 in the Blue Oval’s stables, it quickly embraced a racing career, and was often seen doing its thing at the Brewerton Speedway in New York state. It ventured beyond that, from time to time, making its present felt at tracks in Atlanta, Virginia, or South Boston.
As far as we were able to find out, no major name in the racing scene is linked to this Ford, but that doesn’t make it less appealing. Sure, it probably impacts the price, which reads just $15,995, but not its appeal.
Like any proper racer of its kind, the Ford got some of its body parts stripped and others added from place to place. Up front, the exposed sides of the vehicle let the image of a 1949 Ford flathead engine come to light. The powerplant works by means of a Ford truck 3-speed manual transmission and truck differential and breathes courtesy of a new exhaust system.
According to lore, and old markings on the car, this classic stock car ran races at the Brewerton Speedway in New York state. At some point, the Ford found its way south to Atlanta and then on to Virginia where it continued to participate in Vintage Races at tracks like South Boston well into the ’90s. This ’38 Ford is a vintage stock car from another era. When the coupe was converted into a race car, the body was moved back 5” on the frame for better weight balance. The exterior’s current respray is white enamel with period correct vinyl logos and numbers. Inside this interior is classic racer. A WWII bomber donated the tub seat/seat belt and the driver compartment is protected by a steel roll cage (no Hans device needed). The dash holds period correct Stewart Warner gauges and the driver’s door is welded shut. A Ford Flathead, circa 1949, furnishes horsepower and is backed by a Ford truck 3-speed manual transmission and truck differential. Other mechanical upgrades include:
• Rebuilt carburetor • New ignition components • Rebuilt Ford truck radiator/new hoses • Rebuilt water pumps • Manual and electric fuel pumps • Aluminum fuel tank • New exhaust system • New 6 volt battery (positive-ground) • New master cylinder/wheel cylinders • Bassett Wide-5 steel wheels • New Hoosier asphalt tires w/period-correct Firestone logos
The suspension was modified for racing and a competition right front hub has been installed. This old-school Ford stock car will be a fun addition to someone’s collection. The vehicle is sold on a ‘Bill of Sale’. ALL VEHICLES SOLD “AS IS”.
It goes without saying not a lot of them ended up seeing the daylight, with its successor, the well-known Fairlane, eventually becoming a lot more successful.
But given it was manufactured for just a couple of years, the Crestline has become a pretty sought-after model among collectors, especially because finding an example that still has everything is very often mission impossible.
This 1954 Crestline Victoria is, at least at first glance, the dream of many collectors out there.
It comes in incredible condition, and it’s all thanks to how the car has always been stored. eBay seller yellaboimike says the Crestline has been parked in a garage exclusively, so it comes with zero spots of rust or any other metal issues.
Unfortunately, few specifics have actually been provided, so we can’t tell if the car has ever been restored or not. On the other hand, everything looks to be a pretty good condition, and the mileage (66,000 miles / 106,000 km) seems to suggest this is still an all-original Crestline.
When you take a 1965-’73 Mustang or Cougar for a spin, it is immediately apparent that you’re driving a vehicle from another time. The ride quality and handling of these cars pales in comparison to newer vehicles.
The unit-body shock/spring towers and spring over upper-arm technology used on early Mustangs and their brethren like the Falcon, Comet, Fairlane, and others, was common back in the day. It was a simple, cost-effective system that helped make Ford and Mercury compacts and intermediates more affordable. Even first-generation Chevy IIs were designed this way, as were some American Motors compacts and intermediates. But this design certainly has its shortcomings, and these seem all the more apparent today, as new Mustangs are such capable road machines. But vintage Mustangs don’t have to remain just as they were back in the day. Currently the automotive aftermarket offers a wealth of high-performance suspension kits and parts for classic Mustangs and Cougars, not to mention other Ford and Mercury compacts and intermediates. Classic Performance Products’ (CPP) Pro Touring kits are complete turnkey packages offering effective handling upgrades for your classic Mustang as well as other Ford muscle cars.
These kits come in four different levels of performance, from suspension only (Stage I and II) to complete kits (Stage III and IV) including front and rear high-performance brake packages. All CPP kits include front and rear “Totally Tubular” tested-tough upper and lower control arms, front and rear Pro Touring anti-sway bars with the optional billet aluminum mount upgrade for strength, front and rear coil springs with nitrogen gas shocks in the Pro Touring Kit 1 or the dual-adjustable coilover package with two-way adjustable rear shocks (PTK2, PTK3, PTK4) and lowered rear leaf springs (for leaf spring applications). Mix in CPP’s chrome master cylinder/adjustable stop-block combo along with its upgraded front and rear 11-inch or 13-inch disc brake kits and you have a true Pro Touring package ready for both cruising and autocross.
Chevrolet was eating Ford’s lunch. But Henry had a better idea.
It’s 1932, the height of the Great Depression. Nearly a quarter of all Americans are out of work. What money is being earned buys less, as a 1931 dollar is worth 90 cents in 1932.
The President, Herbert Hoover, is a pariah — so much so that during his re-election campaign, Detroit’s mounted police are called to protect the president from jobless auto workers chanting “Hang Hoover.”
Of course, things aren’t going well for automakers either.
The previous year, 1931, Ford sold 395,000 Model As, down significantly from the million-plus vehicles sold in 1929. But the whole industry is down, having sold 1.1 million units, down from 4.5 million in 1929.
But the slump in sales hadn’t deterred Henry Ford’s plan to beat Chevrolet: build a Ford with a V-8 engine. Unheard of in a mainstream car, it was introduced 90 years ago this week, at the height of the Great Depression.
A wild idea to top Chevy
Whereas Ford once commanded 50% of the car market with his Model T, his refusal to change it gave competitors a chance to catch up, offering more power, more comfort, more amenities and colors other than black. And it wasn’t just Chevrolet. Mid-priced brands like Oldsmobile, Nash, Dodge, Hudson and others nibbled away at his dominance. While Ford still had the industry’s largest market share, it was sliding. By 1926, it stood at 36 percent.
The Model T was losing its luster.
So Ford shut down his factories as he developed his next car, the Model A. It would be a sea change from the Model T, with markedly better performance, thanks to its 200.5 cubic-inch 4 cylinder that produced 40 horsepower, double that of the Model T. It boasted a far more modern design and employed a 3-speed manual transmission, rather than the T’s planetary gearbox.
But while Ford’s factory shutdown cost him the lead in sales, it would reverse itself in 1928, with the arrival of the Model A. By mid-1929, Ford sold 2 million of them.
While Ford thought the car was good enough to last a decade, Chevrolet one-upped him, introducing its 60-horsepower “Stovebolt Six” and overtaking Ford.
The Eighties were when American automakers affected European accents. A new generation of consumers appreciated the understated styling, buttoned-down road manners, and real or imagined prestige that vehicles from Germany, England, Sweden, Italy, and France offered. Even true-blue American icons like Ford’s personal luxury car, the Thunderbird, looked overseas for inspiration, the result being the Turbo Coupe that the company hailed as “A World Class Touring Car.” This popular flagship forever changed buyers’ perceptions of the Thunderbird, and nearly 40 years later, its surprisingly contemporary driving characteristics make it a modern classic worth owning.
The ninth-generation Thunderbird, which still shared Fairmont-derived Fox-platform underpinnings with the Mustang, rocked the market upon its 1983 debut. Adding fuel to the fire was the unprecedented Turbo Coupe. Introduced midyear, this top-of-the-line, forced-induction variant attracted well-heeled enthusiast buyers, those to whom its advanced appearance and technical innovations strongly appealed, to Ford showrooms.
While the 1983 Mustang looked trim, even the hatchback version of that pony car was a brick (0.44 Cd) against the new Thunderbird. Surprisingly, its smooth lines were a development of a Lincoln design proposal from Ford’s Luxury and Intermediate Studio. Gone were the 1980-’82 model’s formal lines, padded vinyl roofs, opera windows, and stand-up hood ornaments. Now we had a downsized two-door whose careful detailing resulted in a 0.35 coefficient of drag, in Turbo Coupe form accented with Euro-style blackout trim and sporting a thrifty four-cylinder making more horsepower on demand than the traditional V-8 more than double its displacement.
While it would retain exposed quad sealed-beam headlamps through 1986, the Thunderbird featured hidden windshield wipers and wrap-over doors concealing the rain gutters, these working in concert with the high rear deck and subtle lip that managed the wind. Turbo Coupes were further distinguished with dark headlamp housings, a front bumper with integral Marchal fog lamps and deep chin spoiler, and bold 14-inch alloy wheels. Inside, special fascia finishes, comprehensive gauges and diagnostic lamps, articulated front sport seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob set the high-performance variant apart.
The Thunderbird Turbo Coupe evolved steadily, gaining an available automatic transmission in 1984 and a color-keyed grille, redesigned instrument panel, larger wheels, and a more powerful engine in 1985. This model took a major leap for 1987, when Motor Trend named it Car of the Year. A planned mid-cycle facelift ended up much more, the Turbo Coupe gaining flush-mounted window glass, a ducted hood, composite front lighting, a “bottom-breather” front bumper, and a smoother rear end. Mechanical updates included an intercooled engine, Programmed Ride Control electronic suspension, anti-lock brakes, 16-inch wheels, and more. A 22-gallon fuel tank ensured impressive high-speed-cruising range.
Ford’s premium two-door was a hot property in its ninth generation, selling nearly 884,000 examples. The North American Turbocoupe Organization (“NATO,” online at turbotbird.com) distills the Turbo Coupe from that total, suggesting 128,533 units were built over six model years, the final two selling the most copies. This Thunderbird benefits from its mechanical relationship to the Fox Mustang, but its unique body and sophisticated electronics pose more challenges for today’s restorers. Thankfully, these well-engineered sports-luxury cars are notably tough and enjoy a passionate, engaged enthusiast following that help each other with parts and information. Values are starting to tick up, with classic.com listing average sale prices nearing $12,500 and rising, so if you’ve always wanted a Turbo Coupe, now is your time to soar.
They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Equally true when it comes to the automotive world is “what’s old is new again.” When it comes to how an automaker powers, positions, and even updates any given model, it’s is often determined by what was done in the past. That’s bound to be especially true with the new 2021 Ford Bronco—a vehicle that already leans heavily on the heritage of the original with similar styling and a shared mission. So what can we expect from future versions of the sixth-generation Bronco? Taking a look at the history of the Ford Bronco line could reveal some secrets.
The original Ford Bronco only stuck around for 12 years, but it’s presence undoubtably overshadows the succeeding generations. In a lot of ways the indirect successor to the World War II-era Ford GPW—the Blue Oval’s license-built version of the Willys MB Jeep—the 1965 Ford Bronco was designed to complement the then-new Ford Mustang as a fun, youth-friendly off-roader.
Ford also had Jeep square in its sights in designing and engineering the Bronco. Like the Jeep CJ-5 of the time, the Bronco was small—its wheelbase is about the same length as a modern Mini Cooper Hardtop—and designed with simple flat surfaces that were both cheap to manufacture and easy to keep protected from rocks. The Bronco was offered up in three body styles: the “Wagon,” which was a two-door with a removable hardtop (a feature we expect the 2021 Bronco to have), a “Roadster,” which came roofless and with inserts instead of doors (much like the contemporary CJ-5), and as a “Sports Utility Pickup”, better known as the “half-cab,” which did away with the two-person rear bench seat of the roadster and hardtop in favor of a mini pickup bed. The Roadster would last until just 1968, making it a particularly rare vehicle. The Bronco half-cab would stick around until 1973, leaving the popular wagon as the only body style for the remainder of the first-gen Bronco’s life.
At launch, the Bronco was powered by Ford’s venerable 105-hp 2.8-liter I-6, paired with a three-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive. A 4.7-liter V-8 producing 200 hp found its way under the Bronco’s stubby little hood in 1966 before being replaced by a bigger 4.9-liter V-8 in 1968. In 1973, the base I-6 was replaced by a 3.3-liter I-6, and a three-speed automatic joined the fold.
According to FourWheeler, a total of 225,585 first-generation Broncos were built between 1965 and 1977 when production ended. Of those, 203,544 were Wagons, 17,262 Sports-Utility Pickups, and 5,000 Roadster
1978-1979 Ford Bronco: Short And Sweet
The ’70s were all about saving money for America’s automakers. After watching GM print money with its new Chevrolet K5 Blazer—essentially a shortened Chevrolet C/K pickup with a removable hardtop—Ford looked at its F-100 and decided that it’d be far easier to cut it down to size than engineer a unique platform for the second-gen Bronco. Although the Arab oil embargo curtailed Ford’s plans to offer up a four-door Bronco (and reportedly delayed the Bronco launch from 1974 to 1978), the upsized two-door Bronco with its removable hardtop would prove to be pretty popular during its two-year life cycle.
To close out the ’70s, the second-gen Bronco had a V-8-only engine lineup. Its base engine was a big 5.8-liter V-8 wheezing out 135 hp, while the upgrade option was a 6.6-liter V-8 with 149 hp. I know it’s easy to pick on Malaise era vehicles, but that is an impressively low amount of horsepower to get from such a remarkably large engine. It’s apples to Skittles, but a modern base Ford EcoSport makes 123 hp from its 1.0-liter turbocharged I-3.
Ford offered two transmission options on the ’78 and ’79 Broncos—a four-speed manual and an optional four-speed auto. A full-time four-wheel drive system was available with the automatic transmission.
In the late 1950s and early ’60s, it was the full-size cars offered by the Big Three manufacturers that kept enthusiasts coming back for more. By 1960, the intermediates were still a few years away from entering production and Ford was now offering the less-than-thrilling compact Falcon, but with models like the GalaxieSunliner and Starliner, there was still plenty to get excited about within the Blue Oval camp. When Robert Fuchs, a self-employed farmer from Arlington, Nebraska, first began seeing ads for the Ford Starliner, it was love at first sight.
“I graduated from Arlington High School in May of 1961 and decided to treat myself to a graduation present by ordering a new Starliner,” Robert recalls. “Dad and I went to Diers Ford in Fremont, Nebraska, and we were told that the assembly plant was ending production, so they probably would not be able to fill any more orders for the remainder of the ’61 model run. I was really disappointed!”
Not to be deterred, Robert and his dad pushed harder on the salesman, who soon said that the dealership had placed an inventory order for one in white with a red interior and that he might be able to make some last-minute changes. “I wanted a blue one instead, and the salesman said he would call the Twin Cities plant and call us back later in the day,” Robert says. “True to his word, the salesman called back in an hour and said they had six Starliners left on the assembly line, and he had made arrangements that mine would be the last one assembled and as I had ordered it, in blue with a blue interior.”
As promised, this 1961 Ford Starliner was the last car off the assembly line at the Twin Cities, Minnesota plant for the 1961 run, and Robert took delivery on July 3 of that year. The Starliner came equipped from the factory with the 352-cu.in. V-8, three-speed column-shifted manual transmission, 7.50 x 14 Goodyear white-sidewall tires, hub caps, backup lamps, cloth and vinyl bench seats, padded dash and visors, full carpeting, tinted glass all around, cigarette lighter, clock, push-button AM radio, and the all-important Cambridge Blue exterior paint. Base price was $2,730 and with options and destination charge the final MSRP was $3,056. Robert was given $600 in trade for his 1952 Ford Victoria, his high school car.
With all-new styling for 1961, the Galaxie Starliner (a two-door hardtop with semi-fastback roofline) was more rounded, sleeker, and much more cleanly styled than the previous year. The model retained a few of the 1960 design cues such as the lower beltline trim, bright-metal rock guards behind the rear wheel openings, and the signature trio of star emblems on the C-pillars. Although the Starliner still had rear quarter fins that were popular in the late ’50s, they were much smaller and clearly understated
The car’s real beauty, however, stood out in the rear, with jet-age-styled taillamps that contained backup lamps centered within. All Starliners rode on a 119-inch wheelbase and used upper and lower A-arms and coil springs up front and a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Just 29,669 Starliners were produced in 1961, making them a rare sight today.