16 - 17 January 2014
1963 Ford Thunderbird 'M-Code' Sports Roadster
To be auctioned on Thursday, January 16, 2014
Sold for $85,250
- Chassis no. 3Y89M106625
The year 1961 saw the introduction of the third-generation Thunderbird, which was now much more of a personal luxury coupe than a sports car, and the minting of another nickname for the four-seater, “Bulletbird,” which was assigned for the car’s sharply pointed nose and rounded sides. Sales were strong but slowing by this time, so Ford lent an ear to some dealers’ and customers’ cries for a return to a two-seat roadster-style Thunderbird.
Lee Iacocca appointed designer Bud Kaufman to come up with a fix, and he did: a removable fiberglass tonneau that would both cover up the Thunderbird convertible’s rear seats and incorporate headrests for the front seat occupants. The cover was originally a dealer-installed option, but in 1962, it found its way onto new Thunderbird order forms as part of a Sports Roadster package, which also included a passenger side grab bar, Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels with knock-off center caps, and a rear fender skirt delete, to clear those gaps.
Thunderbird Sports Roadster production numbered 1,427 units in 1962, but just 455 in 1963, making them rare birds indeed. Even rarer were Thunderbirds ordered with the monstrous 390-cubic inch tri-power V-8, which was designated by an M in the VIN; thus resulting in the nickname of “M-Code” cars. These cars breathed through a set of three Holley two-barrel carburetors and put out some 340 horsepower at the crankshaft, which is to say they were plenty capable of shaming any Corvette-driving challengers.
Ford turned out just 37 M-Code Sports Roadsters in 1963, and the Corinthian White example profiled here is one of them. It was recently cosmetically refreshed with a beautiful, new concours-finish, a black Haartz power convertible top, and the replating of many chrome components, and it has also seen its interior restored in the original factory red. The like-new upholstery is complemented by optional power windows, a power driver’s seat, and the unique Thunderbird Swing-Away steering wheel, as well as optional factory air conditioning, which was added during the restoration. The Thunderbird is accompanied by a set of period-correct floor mats and a spare tire cover, as well as the original build sheet, which verifies this to be a genuine M-Code Sports Roadster, and a copy of the shipping invoice.
Few Thunderbirds are as collectible as the Sports Roadster. This car, with the M-Code V-8, is surely amongst the most desirable of them all.
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