Journal: Enter the Private World of Ford Thunderbird

Enter the Private World of Ford Thunderbird

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
February 20, 2014
8 comments

Forget that the Thunderbird was initially designed to compete with GM’s Corvette. Forget that its first iteration was a two-seat grand tourer, that it had grown larger, and abandoned its sporting pretensions. The Thunderbird was moving upmarket and Ford was re-defining it as a personal luxury vehicle. Whatever personal luxury means to you, it’s clear that Ford’s advertising agency at the time, J. Walter Thompson, was creating a dreamworld around the T-bird. Well-dressed women watch you coquettishly from the passenger seat, measuring your mettle, as if about to say, “C’mon. Take me for a ride…” They’re obviously waiting for you, all you need is the Thunderbird.

The lighting is dark and almost somber to appeal to a serious, rational mindset in the [visibly] un-retouched photos. The message is that the Thunderbird is a serious car, not to be taken lightly, for a serious man. While in the more gauzy ads, the treatment in post-production helped to strengthen the ad’s fantastical qualities as they were airbrushed both to strengthen the focal point and further the advertisements’ story: this private world is an aspirational dream.

And what is a dream if not a personal, hazy collection of details? A fantasy like this isn’t something you’d share with anyone, except maybe that one special person. The models’ positioning (in the ads with couples) within the ads also communicates a secret essence: they were mostly placed behind the Thunderbird, frequently far from the camera’s lens as if experiencing a welcome, shared respite from the world. And then as now, time and privacy were a luxury.

Image Sources: oldcaradvertising.com, oldcarbrochures.org

 

Join the Conversation
Related

Leave a Reply

Janet Dobbs
Janet Dobbs

This is one of the best and stylish looking cars.This series of Ford are usually in more demand because of their style and uniqueness.
[url=”http://www.karinherzog.com/en/”]see more[/url]

Baskingshark
Baskingshark

Love these old ads. When I was in high school, my school library had bound copies of National Geographic going from about 1955 all the way up through the mid-90’s. Which gathered dust on a shelf and nobody ever read. One day while spending a free period in the library with a friend “studying” I discovered that the Nat Geos (a) had full-page car ads and (b) the binding was now so old all the pages were coming loose. I spent the year working my way through pulling out and stealing all the pages with car ads. I still have… Read more »

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson

If I were to pick one, I’d much rather take sport (i.e. Corvette) over personal luxury. However, one of my childhood friends, that was vital in turning me into a classic American car enthusiast, came from a Ford family. His dad had (and still has, I believe) this beautiful ’64-’66 gold T-bird. While not really my cup of tea, I’ll always have a soft spot for them.

Jeff Lannigan
Jeff Lannigan

I love the dashboard designs in this era. The advertising is very cool too – I particularly like the clever long exposure shot of the sequential turn signals.

john tolle
john tolle

Likewise with me. The old ads are really great plus classy. Could even turn a Jaguar and BMW fan into T Bird enthusiast

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

I wasnt really a big Thunderbird fan but i do have a soft spot for the old advertising back in the day. It just takes you back to a time and place that wont ever happen again. A interesting fact about the Thunderbird was in its two seater form was one of the reasons Chevy kept making the Corvette and when it changed into a personal luxury car it inspired GM to create the Buick Riviera.

PDQ
PDQ

Well…..yes and no on the Riviera. The car was originally presented to Cadillac as the La Salle II. The original La Salle line had been the “baby Cadillac” – positioned below Cadillac and above Buick. They were produced from 1927 to 1940 and Bill Mitchell’s early work under Harley Earl in the 1930’s involved La Salle models. In fact turn signals on the leading edges of the LaSalle II/Riviera front fenders were styled to mimic a design Mitchell had used on the LaSalle front grill back in the 1930’s. Cadillac was selling every car they could make in the early… Read more »

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

Yes, Im very aware of the history of the Buick Riviera and thanks for that. The more i look at it i didn’t mean to use the word inspired since GM was already working on the La salle II project. I meant to say that the success of the personal luxury Thunderbird had some influence for them to build such a car. thanks again