The Native American Thunderbird is a mythological supernatural winged creature of extraordinary power and strength, capable of shape-shifting. The Ford Thunderbird had none of those qualities, except for the shape-shifting abilities. In fact, it might be considered one of the all-time great automotive shape-shifters ever. It may have ended looking somewhat like it started, but in the almost fifty years in between, it took on seeminglt-endless shapes, sizes, styling, price classes, personalities, and identities.
Is that a reflection of the rather volatile American self-identity and popular culture experience of that era? Americans love the latest fad and are endlessly re-inventing themselves, and the Thunderbird’s restlessness reflects that all too well. In contrast, the evolution of the 1955 Mercedes 190SL to today’s SL is almost perfectly linear: same basic idea, same position in the market. Is it a coincidence that the SL is still in production, and quite possibly will still be in fifty years?
This week we will examine the many faces of Thunderbird. As is typical for CC, it won’t be perfectly linearly, or even with much actual coordination; the Thunderbird will fly wild and free. CC itself is an endless shape-shifter, reflecting the diverse backgrounds, ages, and points-of-view of our many Contributors. Pinning down the Thunderbird completely in one take (or even one week) is essentially impossible, so we’re going to treat your with many stabs at it. But we are starting at the beginning, and will end at the end. In between, anything is possible; just like with the Thunderbird.
Postscript: It won’t be all Thunderbirds all week; must have a little variety too.