Curbside Classic: 1967 Ford Thunderbird Landau – Am I Mellowing With Age?

I like to think that I’m a “live and let live” kind of guy; any malice I feel is not really malice, but short-lived annoyance that is extinguished almost as soon as it flares.  On the other hand, I’m only human.  Historically, any hatred I’ve harbored is focused on animal abuse, songs I think are terrible, food words, and perhaps even 1967 Thunderbirds.  But I’m letting up on the last one.

One of my least favorite songs has always been “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by the late, great Gordon Lightfoot.  Don’t get mad.  I like Mr. Lightfoot’s music quite a bit (“Beautiful” and “Rainy Day People” are wonderful), but when it comes to that song, our Venn Diagram does not overlap.  I was once eating dinner with some friends in the early 2000s.  A folk singer was playing singer-songwriter hits of the ’60s and ’70s, and after he’d worked through about an hour of his set list, I mentioned that if he played “Edmund Fitzgerald,” I was walking out.  It was the next song he played.  Being a man of my word, I covered my check, left a tip, wished my friends a good night, and left.  That’s the kind of hand genetics dealt me in my younger days.

Upon the passing of Mr. Lightfoot earlier this year, however, I had to admit to myself that for years I had been hating that song for the sake of tradition.  No longer did that wellspring of irrational spite manifest itself upon the receipt of those first few hits of that lonesome guitar.  Now, after a years-long dispute with the seafaring classic, I can freely admit that this lyric is haunting: “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”

My coworkers have long used my odd annoyances to tease me: “Is this cake moist, Aaron?”  But no longer will the playing of “Wreck” wreck me.  A sense of calm has won the day.

And so it goes with 1967 Thunderbirds.  Even on these pages, I’ve said that the 1966 Thunderbird was the last true Thunderbird, and the 1967 model was in essence a mockery of the name.  But I’m starting to change my mind.

My dad has always waxed nostalgic about “Glamour Birds.”  As a teenager working at the local Ford dealer in the late 1960s, the owner would often ask Dad to wash his T-Bird Landau, and even occasionally deliver it to places where it could be waiting for him.  To a 19-year-old kid, driving this car must have made him feel like a million bucks.  He still raves about the lustrous enamel paint that was miles deeper than the jobs on more mundane Fords.

He was also impressed by the Lincoln-aping suicide doors that blended into the Landau irons on the roof, and the fancy interiors that were just about as plush as a Continental’s.  As a side note, I broke a rule here: I rarely touch other people’s cars without their permission, and my lovely bride was a little surprised that I opened the door of this unlocked T-Bird.  The fact that it shared the parking lot of a business with other unplated cars led me to believe that they were for sale, so I took a chance that the owner wouldn’t mind in this case.

The interior might not be as alluring as those of previous Thunderbirds, but the clear round gauges and swoopy console are still in the Thunderbird’s bag of tricks at this point, so while it’s a step down, it’s not a precipitous fall.

The 1967 Thunderbirds no longer shared a unibody with the Continental, so I can only imagine it was cheaper to produce, and likely much easier to work on than previous models.  My experiences with my ’63 T-Bird have soured me to wrenching on luxury Fords of this time period, so anything they could have done to ease the burden must have been well-appreciated by the line mechanics.

This bodystyle lasted through the 1971 model year, although it grew a few inches in beak length by that time.  My wife agrees that I’ve mellowed for the better over the years, and while I’m still game for a heated discussion about something unimportant (such as Thunderbirds and folk songs), I’m able to look in the mirror and be honest with myself.  And sometimes a reappraisal is part of being an adult.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1967 Ford Thunderbird Landau Sedan – Are Four Doors Really Better Than Two?