I've shot a few of Alameda's street-parked 60s Thunderbirds, but for some reason haven't yet posted any of them for this series. But today the Thunderbird drought ends, with this '61 that's a real survivor. Yes, that's the word for this beautifully wretched Ford, which is owned by the same guy who owns the equally wretched 1970 Chevy Impala we saw a while back. This Thunderbird has been a fixture on one of Alameda's main east-west thoroughfares for as long as I can remember; at its current rate of decay, it should be ready for The Crusher by about the year 2094.

It's been hit pretty hard on the driver's-side front corner. And the other corners. And the sides. However, the roof shows no meteorite damage!

The way cars rust around here is that the weatherstripping around the rear window starts to go, and then the surrounding metal begins to rot. Then the trunk stays wet for the entire rainy season and the process accelerates. It takes about 15 years of neglect for rust-through to occur, but it takes a special sort of neglect to allow leaves and dead bugs to build up in the rust hole to the extent that moss grows on the resulting compost. Yes, this car is such a beater that it has managed to develop a moss problem in a dry climate.

It might take more than just Bondo to get everything shipshape on the rear body.

The interior really isn't so rough, considering the harshness of the sun here. I was expecting a lot more visible foam rubber and horsehair, perhaps with some duct-tape accents.

I wonder which engine this car has; most likely is the standard 300-horse 390, but you could a 375-horse version with better compression. Those who wanted a bit more zip out of their 4,000-pound T-Bird went with the Thunderbird Special 390, which boasted triple carbs and 401 horsepower. Somehow it seems only right that this car would have the Thunderbird Special.

First 100 DOTS Cars