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Rough Start: 1977 Ford Thunderbird – The Best-Selling Version?

Rough Start: 1977 Ford Thunderbird – The Best-Selling Version?

Believe it or not, 1977 was the best year for the Ford Thunderbird. No other model…not the two-seaters, not the Bullet Birds, not the four-doors or the Turbo Coupes, none of them, sold as well as 1977 did. So yes, among some of the beauties and beasts of the nameplate line-up throughout almost fifty years of production, it’s the purely 1970s Ford with the monster front overhang that nails the sales pitch. So…what the hell happened there? In 1977, buyers were rushing to buy smaller cars. Downsizing was a thing, with GM leading the pack. Personal luxury coupes were a thing, with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Chrysler Cordoba doing battle. How did the Thunderbird do so well?

Believe it or not, the T-bird downsized in 1977. Looking at one, you might choke at that statement, but it’s true. Between 1972 and 1976, the Thunderbird was platform-mates with the Lincoln Mark IV, making it one of the heavyweights at Ford. Unfortunately, the Lincoln outshined the Ford horribly and even outsold it in 1975 and 1976, and Ford had to sit there and watch the Monte Carlo snap up coupe sales left, right and center. Meanwhile, another Ford product, the Elite (a gussied-up Ford Torino) was doing better…not well enough to be a threat, but it was selling. Enter Lee Iacocca, the mater of gingerbread. He took the Elite, chiseled the bodylines to echo the upcoming LTD II/Lincoln Mark V body shape, added hideaway headlights, and turned the options list into an all-you-can-afford buffet, and suddenly losing 900 pounds and being barely more than the LTD II in options became a winning recipe. Nevermind that the T-bird outsold the LTD II coupe by 362%,  in 1977 alone the Thunderbird outsold the entire previous generation, moving 318,140 cars that year. How did Henry Ford II and Iacocca grow to hate each other with successes like that?

So, to our budget car find of the day…$4,500 for a nice, well-kept Thunderbird powered by a 351, looking sharp for it’s age, with only a set of aftermarket wheels taking away from the clean stocker approach. You really need nothing to enjoy this Bird except for the cash, though if it were me I’d start hunting for the turbine wheels that these cars came with from the factory. It isn’t everyday that we say buy immediately, but this T-bird is sharp enough to warrant that recommendation.

Facebook Marketplace link: 1977 Ford Thunderbird

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7 thoughts on “Rough Start: 1977 Ford Thunderbird – The Best-Selling Version?

  1. Matt Cramer

    Or, as the villain-mobile from The Crow demonstrated, those big cars can look extremely menacing with dark paint and a blower through the hood.

  2. GT Performance

    I’m daily driving a 77 with 400 sun roof buckets and console. $4500 needs more options.

  3. BigDogSS

    My older cousin bought of these brand new –> triple Green! green paint, green vinyl roof and green velour interior!

    That thing Fa-LOATED down the road. I got to drive it once and I couldn’t even tell was doing 80…

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