The third generation Thunderbird arrived in 1961 and remained until 1963. It featured a far sleeker look than that of its predecessor. The hardtop version was prominently displayed when President Kennedy rode in one during his inaugural parade. It was also the 1961 Indianapolis 500 pace car.
Powerful 390 CID Engine
A total of 78,011 Thunderbirds were built during the 1962 model year, of which 9,984 were convertibles. The distinctive convertible top could completely retract into the trunk area. These stylish T-birds were powered by a standard 390 CID V8 engine, with power transferred to the rear wheels via a Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission. This powerful engine was capable of generating 300 horsepower.
1962 Ford Thunderbird Convertible – Luxurious Features
Luxury options included a unique slide-away steering wheel that could move 18 inches laterally to the right. This made exiting the vehicle extremely convenient for the driver. The car had power everything, including locks, windows, steering and brakes. In the early sixties, power brakes and power steering were optional luxuries on most vehicles, but they were standard on the T-bird.
The already distinctive exterior was enhanced by white sidewall tires and dual exhaust. The grille-less front end was mostly all paint and headlights. Although the floating rear view mirror is a standard feature on today’s vehicles, it was a novel addition to the 1962 T-bird. The convertible T-bird for 1962 could be ordered with Pearl White paint and bright red vinyl interior that contrasted beautifully with the black convertible top. The Rangoon Red paint was also popular, since it matched the bold red interior.
Convertible Sports Roadsters
Of the convertibles produced that year, 1,427 were the special Sports Roadsters. These special T-bird convertibles were decked out with special badges and Kelsey-Hayes 48-spoke wire wheels. An initial weakness in these elaborate wheels was publicized when Elvis Presley had one collapse during a hard turn. The problem was corrected soon thereafter. The Sports Roadster also included a fiberglass tonneau cover that made the vehicle look like a very distinctive two-seater.
The rarest of the 1962 Ford Thunderbird convertibles were the Sports Roadsters powered by a tripower 390 CID engine that featured three two-barrel carburetors. The so-called “M” engine employed 406 heads to help it achieve an impressive 345 horsepower. Only 120 Sports Roadsters with the M engine were produced for the 1962 model year.
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