Sunday shortie. I think. Maybe not. Let’s see, shall we?
I’ve mentioned before Ford’s catastrophic, nay epic, marketing cockup with the Edsel. What a dog that was. But at about the same time, FoMoCo launched the Thunderbird. This was an error too. Chevrolet rolled out the pretty (sort of) lightweight, reasonably small, sporty (by American standards) Corvette. Ford came out in retaliation with the Thunderbird. No contest. But Thunderbird was one of those GREAT American ‘Get the fuck out of my way’ names that paved the way for the musclecar era.
The Corvette was sort of dainty, and fastish, even though a bit of a girlie car. The T-bird missed the mark, being too big, too slow, too luxurious. Not a sportster by any means, simply a slusher, pretty much a Lincoln in a party frock.
Now back in 1971/1972, still in my model car years, since I was retarded, I acquired a 1/24th scale 1969 Thunderbird. Dunno why. Clearly I had more money than sense. Anyway, this was a car of such astonishing slabby ugliness, even by early late 60s/early 70s American standards, I was at a bit of a loss. But sitting in my 1/24th box of parts, I had a funnycar chassis (I had to rummage for the bits to build a suitable supercharged monstermotor), and away I went. Was I doing a lot of drugs then? The evidence might suggest so.
I didn’t do too much to the bodywork. Two reasons. The front end in particular was of such massive complexity I was mildly concerned I’d die by the time I got anything completed. And I was simply amazed at the brickwall ugliness of the thing. I decided to leave it alone.
Oh come on, of COURSE I didn’t, but it was all relatively mild. Well, apart from the major dechroming. That took a bit of time and patience; the T-Bird had A LOT of chrome trim and bits. A simple raked channel job. Then drop the nose, (easy, take a tenon saw to the front end at scuttle level), then realign the front grill/headlights by taking a slice out of the body just aft of the grill and get going with the body filler, and 1200 grade wet or dry abrasive paper. That was a bit fiddly, but I was young, free, and single (quel surprise, eh?), and suddenly the hefty ugly T-Bird looked even uglier, if you can imagine that. Oh yeah, kick up the tail a bit. Still pretty restrained. Oh well, if you can’t beat them, join them. So I really went to town on the paintjob. This was appallingly tasteless even by dragracing standards.
Daytona Orange for the base colour, matched fetchingly with Midnight Blue. Against the odds a bit, this combo did work, though it did make the Bird look like a NASCAR racer. Hmmm. I matt lacquered the grill to make it look as if it meant business, and matt blacked the headlights
Touch of genius here. I gold metalflaked the roof! The metalflake cost more than the original kit had.
Still didn’t look tasteless enough, so I broke out the masking tape and some fluorescent green paint. And some fluorescent orange, which went remarkably well with the Daytona Orange/Midnight Blue kinda theme.
Final assembly was a bit tricky, since the very last thing the T-Bird needed was any cackhanded marring of the paintjob. Went OK with some careful attention. I’d failed to factor in the header clearance when I did the channel job. Oh well, things happen, eh?
I now had the ugliest 1/24th scale funnycar the world had, indeed has, ever seen. It really was pig ugly. How could it not be with a 1969 Thunderbird as the basis?