1962 Ford Thunderbird Sport Roadster - $59,900
     
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To answer your first question, yes, it is a real Sport Roadster. Fakes abound, but early in 1962 Sport Roadster production Ford coded these special cars with their own body code, 76B, making real ones easier to spot. And that is indeed what appears on this car’s door tag. It also carries a 2Y89Z VIN prefix, suggesting that it is a late production 1962 Sport Roadster. It has been awarded some of the highest accolades such a car can win, including an AACA Senior National First Prize in 2005. Since then, it has been driven very little and remains in fantastic condition throughout. “Bullet Birds” are currently the only early Thunderbird models that still seem to be appreciating with enthusiasts, and the one to own is the rare and desirable Sport Roadster. This is a great opportunity.

The Sport Roadster package was Ford’s attempt to answer dealer complaints that no 2-seater models were available. Of course, the 4-seater ‘Birds had been handily out-selling the original 2-seaters by a wide margin, but getting it right never stops people from complaining. Ford stylists developed the Sport Roadster to answer those complaints and created one of the most handsome and dynamic convertibles of the era. For those of you unfamiliar with the Sport Roadster, the changes were modest but made a big impact on the overall look. Most notable was the removable tonneau cover over the rear seats that did, indeed, transform it into a sporting 2-seater that could be returned to 4-seater form in a matter of minutes. The Sport Roadster also included gorgeous Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels that are arguably the most beautiful wire wheels of the period. These wheels precluded the use of rear fender skirts, which made the Sport Roadsters instantly identifiable at a glance. Other unique Sport Roadster details include the red, white, and blue emblems on the front fenders and a grab handle for the passenger. The result was a fantastic-looking T-Bird but also an expensive one, so sales were understandably modest with only 1427 being built in 1962.

Why the long preamble? Because fake and undocumented Sport Roadsters are common and garden-variety Thunderbirds with an aftermarket tonneau and replica wire wheels are frequently on the market. But if you’re a purist who insists on the real deal, this car gets it right. Finished in correct code J Rangoon Red, which was the single most popular color on the Sport Roadsters for good reason, it looks every bit like the expensive luxury car that it was in 1962. The restoration was extremely well done and the investment in time and resources was considerable to get this car into its current condition. The finish has a deep shine that’s entirely appropriate for 1962 and the bodywork underneath is in excellent shape. You can sight down the long sides of this car and see exactly zero waves or ripples, and the gaps are tight throughout. Obviously these were typically well-maintained cars, so starting with good base stock makes a big difference. Even the massive trunk lid, which pivots from the rear on massive hydraulic rams, fits neatly and sits flush. These are not easy cars to restore, so it makes sense to buy the best one you can find.

There’s also a great deal of chrome and stainless trim on these cars, from the heavy bumpers to the intricate grille to the unique medallions on the rear quarters. The long strip of stainless that runs from nose to tail is one of the car’s most dramatic styling features and neatly incorporates the door handles, a detail that recently was reintroduced on the 2017 Lincoln Continental. All of the brightwork was restored with the rest of the car and we can find no notable demerits beyond some minor aging on one of the Thunderbird emblems. It’s just beautifully done.

The interior was little changed on the Sport Roadster aside from the passenger-side grab handle, but when something looks this good, it doesn’t need much improving. Black vinyl was a popular choice and looks great against the bright red paintwork, and like the rest of the car, it has been fully restored to new condition. The seats, carpets, door panels, dash pad, and other soft parts were replaced during the restoration and show very, very little use since it was completed. More importantly, the big panel of anodized aluminum that stretches across the dash and down onto the center console is in excellent condition with zero pitting or deterioration—it’s the best we’ve ever seen. Big, round gauges are in their own chrome housings and they all work save the clock, which is typical. The factory AM radio is still in the dash and remarkably enough, even the MagicAire heater was a $82.90 option. Other options include power windows, windshield washer, seat belts, and an exterior mirror. It currently shows 76,060 miles, and we believe that to be an authentic reading, although with such a comprehensive restoration, it’s not really relevant; the car has been driven less than 4000 miles since it was completed. And to answer your other critical question, yes, the top works too. We serviced it when it arrived and had one of the motors rebuilt, and it does run itself up and down properly, a mechanical symphony that makes onlookers stop and gawk. Leave the top up and you also have a good-sized trunk with a correct mat set and full-sized spare tire assembly with jack.

The Sport Roadster’s standard Z-code 390 cubic inch V8 makes 300 horsepower and received a few chrome dress-up pieces to make it stand out from its siblings a bit more. The big air cleaner is the same as all the others, but in chrome it really makes the engine bay pop. Other chrome pieces include the Thunderbird-logo valve covers and expansion tank for the cooling system, so the under-hood area really looks detailed. Power steering and brakes were standard (can you imagine wheeling something this big around town without power steering?) and it runs superbly. It starts easily with a turn of the key and idles well even when it’s cold, all thanks to some careful tuning to get things just right. The big V8 just loafs along at highway speeds and feels plenty punchy around town, although this isn’t a car designed for drag racing. There’s a pleasing V8 burble from the twin tailpipes out back but it never gets too aggressive, which wouldn’t be fitting.

The only transmission available in the Thunderbird was a 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic, which works rather well behind the torquey 390. Remember that on Fords there are two drive positions, and for most situations, we’ve found the green dot to be preferable as it forces the transmission to use first gear from a stop. The car feels far more energetic that way. The undercarriage is quite clean and solid with no signs of major rust surgery or previous issues, and the detailing is as good as the rest of the car. There are signs of having been driven a bit, of course, but there’s nothing that couldn’t be erased in an afternoon of cleaning if you really insist on perfection. The suspension is supple and luxurious, despite the car’s Sport Roadster designation, and the power drum brakes are more than adequate in most situations. Out back, there’s a 9-inch rear end with 3.00 gears inside, making this a fantastic highway cruiser that feels like a one-car parade everywhere you go. And, of course, the Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels are just gorgeous and are fitted with proper 8.00-14 BFGoodrich Silvertown whitewalls for a correct look.

This car is authenticated with an original invoice showing the Sport Roadster package and delivery to Cutler Motor Sales in Melrose, Massachusetts. A factory service manual is also included, along with some early promotional literature and photos showcasing the Sport Roadster.

A fantastic example of an automaker’s attempt to improve an already excellent product, the Sport Roadster lives at the top of the Thunderbird hierarchy. This fantastic, high-quality example will reward its new owner with the satisfaction of owning one of the best and a car that remains beautiful to see and delightful to drive. Call today!

Vehicle: 1962 Ford Thunderbird Sport Roadster
Price: $59,900
Stock Number: 114066
Mileage: 76,054
VIN: 2Y89Z147407
Engine: 390 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3
Wheelbase: 113 inches
Wheels: 14-inch chrome wire wheels
Tires: 8.00-14 BFGoodrich Silvertown whitewall
Exterior Color: Rangoon Red
Interior Color: Black
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