The 60th anniversary of the Squarebird!
In my humble opinion, 1958 was a mixed bag for American car designs- There were some definite hits that year, but plenty of other head-scratchers, as all the Detroit brands plastered 4 headlamps and more chrome on anything that rolled, with varying degrees of success. One new car introduced that year caused an uproar with purists, but I feel has stood the test of time: The ’58 Ford Thunderbird. Introduced as a sporting two-seater (and Corvette competitor) in 1955, the Thunderbird was a favorite with hot rodders like Doane Spencer as well as customizers like George Barris and Larry Watson. However by the late 50s, the car industry was slowing way down, so Ford worried that having only 2 seats would limit Bird sales, and they were right. The new ’58-’60 series of four-seat models (affectionately known as ‘Squarebirds’ for their boxy styling) sold over 200,000 copies, which was roughly four times the number of ’55-’57 models! It was now available as a retracting-top convertible or a hardtop coupe, and became more of a luxurious boulevard cruiser, rather than a sporty weekend racer. The new T-Bird design also had much more of a rocket-inspired, custom vibe to it, with door handles built into the trim, flush-mounted quad headlamps, mesh grille, and oval pod taillight housings. The low-slung hardtop roof with concave back window looked almost like it had a mild chop to it, from certain angles. Ford may have been just a little nervous if the new ’58 Thunderbird would be a success or not, as it seemed easier to find TV commercials for the 1959 and ’60 models!