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Square Birds

Though the two-seater sold better than expected, four-seater cars were a better sales bet in the long run. Some people objected to the lack of passenger and luggage room in the Thunderbird, so in 1958 Ford made the decision to drop the two-passenger model and offer only a four-passenger version. The newly redesigned vehicle had a wheelbase of 113 inches, which was an increase of 11 inches. The overall length increased 24 inches to 205.4 total inches, which was the beginning of the longer Thunderbird look. The front sported 4 headlights, and the back had slight tailfins that extended forward slightly past the door handles. In order to maintain a low profile, designers lowered the seats and then solved a conflict with the transmission hump and driveshaft tunnel by separating the passengers with a large console. The car became strictly a four-passenger vehicle. This ingenious design solution was soon copied by designers on other vehicles. Six months after the hardtop version was on the road the convertible became available. Color options were still expanding with twelve single colors, thirty-four two-tone combinations, and ten interior colors. The convertible offered seven different cloth top colors. In 1958, 35,758 hardtops and 2,134 convertibles were built for a total of 37,892 cars. This was almost double the 1957 total. The numbers were particularly good since 1958 automobile sales were depressed for nearly all manufacturers. Also during 1958, Ford produced its 50-millionth vehicle which was a Thunderbird. The 1959 model sported very few significant changes from the 1958 version. Most were small exterior cosmetic enhancements. The standard engine was the 352 cubic inch with three available transmission types. Colors choices continued to be varied. Eighteen single colors in the new, no-wax Diamond-Lustre Finish were available, with forty-one two-tone combinations as well as fourteen interior choices. List price was $3696 for the hardtop and $3979 for the convertible. Sales were strong with total production at 67,456 vehicles (10,261 were convertibles). New in 1960, the Thunderbird offered a sun roof in the hardtop. The extra cost was $212.40 and was operated manually. The sunroof, though, would not reappear until 1969. Colors were still an important sales tool. Nineteen single colors were offered, 15 interior choices and three colors of convertible roof. Twenty-eight two-toned combinations were available, and could be reversed which allowed for fifty-six possible color options. This model year showed the best numbers to date: a grand total of 92,843 cars were produced. The rare of these are the 2,536 hardtops with a sunroof with 352 and the rarest 377 with optional 430 cubic inch engine.