5k: 1977 Ford Thunderbird – One Owner, 60k miles – Road Kill!

This is the first in a new type of feature from Daily Turismo, called “Road Kill.” These are cars that we (and our readers) have found for sale out on the road, or highway, or local Kwik-E-Mart parking lot – without necessarily having an ad listed online. If you’d like to submit an interesting find from your daily travels, email us at tips@dailyturismo.com with “Road Kill” in the subject line and include at least 4 pics snapped from your SLR or camera phone! We bagged today’s find last week in Redondo Beach, CA at the Cruise at the Beach in the Ruby’s Diner parking lot. It is a claimed one-owner, 60k mile, (mostly) original 1977 Ford Thunderbird in Malaise-era appropriate metallic medium brown, with a dark brown vinyl top and interior, for $4500 OBO.

These late ’70s T-birds had been downsized compared to their predecessors – this fact is tough to wrap our heads around considering the gargantuan dimensions of this two door personal luxury car, until we remember that the earlier cars had aircraft carrier hoods and weighed over 4400 lbs, more than some full size pickup trucks. So if you’re looking for that period correct overwrought style but don’t have an entire city block reserved for your parking space, one of these “midsize” Thunderbirds would fit the bill nicely, we think.

At first glance this car looks totally original and has definitely been cared for in its 35 years of existence. It does appear to have recent paint work however; we suspect a full-body respray since the paint looked consistent from panel to panel, but overspray was evident on door locks & handles that were masked instead of removed for paint. Either way, the originality police aren’t too interested in ’77 Thunderbirds (yet) so the respray should not detract from the value – in fact, it’s likely better quality paint than whatever Ford originally applied at the factory.

We remember thinking of these cars as big ugly turds not too long ago, and they are definitely still on the lunatic fringe of the collector car world. But everything has to come back in style eventually, right? Well maybe, but we’d lose the chrome melted-alien look aftermarket wheels in favor of something either period correct or much more modern. This car might actually gain some attitude with a set of new plus-sized painted alloy 5-spokes and an airbag lowering job. The guys on Discovery’s show “Fast N’ Loud” pulled it off on a Lincoln Continental MkIII with huge wire wheels, so perhaps there is hope for this car yet.

The interior of the T-bird is in pristine condition – we poked our heads in and got a whiff of that rich Naugahyde aroma and oh-so-authentic burled plastic veneer on the dash & steering wheel. None of the interior surfaces were faded or cracked, so this car has either lived in a garage its whole life or been recently redone. It did appear to be original inside, and anyways who is reproducing ’77 Thunderbird dash pads & seat covers anyways? The towel on the driver’s seat likely explains the great condition of the upholstery – looks like the original owner always uses protection!

We did not get a chance to chat with the owner; the car was attracting attention from show goers but no one seemed to be around to answer questions at the time we saw it. Two phone numbers are shown on the For Sale sign above – so if you are interested, tell ’em DT sent ya! We hope this quasi-Brougham coupe with the basket handle B-pillar and Ron Burgundy grade opera windows finds a home as loving as it has now, and brings the new owner plenty of enjoyment. All 1977 Thunderbirds sold in CA had 351 Windsor V8 engines, so we suspect that is what is still under the hood and ready to shred those big rear meats – if it can ever escape the stranglehold of its original power choking smog equipment!

See a car that you’d consider Found On Road, Dead (or even mostly still alive)? Submit your Road Kill treasures here: tips@dailyturismo.com