Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
Like many people, I made the long trek back to my ancestral homelands to see my family over Christmas. That meant heading to Long Island, mostly to see a movie.
(The movie was Philomena, it was okay, I guess, but it seemed like Oscar bait. Judi Dench was good but when isn't the old Dame any good? Also it was very sad and Irish. The movie, I mean. Not the car.)
A real treat of the day, though was seeing this 1965 Ford Thunderbird just sitting pretty outside the movie theater. It's rare to see old survivors like this one in New York City proper, but once you get deep into the suburbs, with their covered garages in every home, a fifty-year old car in reasonable condition actually isn't too uncommon. And what a car it is.
The Ford Thunderbird is remarkable in that it did something faster than any car could do nowadays – it underwent a refresh. Every two to three years, like clockwork, the T-bird was styled into a different car. Even though the boulevard cruiser was introduced in 1955, by 1965 the model was already midway through its fourth generation.
Unfortunately, that's just about the only thing the Thunderbird could do faster than any other car. While it does have only two doors, a cruiser was the only thing the Thunderbird was ever meant to be. While the Corvette rapidly turned into a sports car, the 'Bird remained true to its roots. Despite the big 390 V8 upfront which put out 300 horses, the big coupe could only manage a laggard run to highway speed in 11 seconds.
That's mostly due to the fact that all that steel weighed about the same as the similarly-aged aircraft carrier, the USS America.
But hey, in 1965 the Thunderbird finally came with disc brakes in front. So at least that aircraft carrier-sized hunk of metal didn't need six miles to stop. But then again, why would you want to stop? Cruising never hurt nobody.