Currently I have 5 or 6 modeling projects underway, so I figured it was time to start another one. This is a 1962 Ford Thunderbird Convertible that I am planning to convert into a modern custom interpretation of the futuristic Jet fighter inspirited concept cars of the 50’s and early 60’s.
As a kid I would pour over the designer’s drawings of the concept cars that they said we would be driving in the far off days of 2000. Well, 2000 came and went, and we are still driving relatively “normal” looking cars. No jet engine exhaust outlets, no jet fighter canopy’s, no jet fighter joystick controllers and no flying cars just yet………but regardless, I always found those concepts to be fascinating.
I also always found the ’62 Thunderbird to be a beautiful design…….the long smooth side sculpture with the sight rounded curve….the round taillights and the subdued fin hinted to the jet fighter without the extreme designs of the GM Firebirds I, II and III. The forward leaning front fender points that gave the vehicle a look of speed and action even when standing still….all of the elements of the design worked perfectly for me……clearly the design was very well thought out. It has a “complete” look…..you know how some cars today have a completely disjointed look? Some cars look like one group of guys did the front styling, another the back and still another did the sides……not so with this Thunderbird design ……the same “tight’ feel is carried throughout the car. The front, sides and back all work well together, so the challenge for me is how do I modify this cohesive design without hurting it?
Here are few design drawing I worked up on how I am going to modify this car. Starting at the front, I have decided to extend the center portion of the nose with a protruding pointed triangle shaped “beak” ( get it??? ThunderBIRD, beak….no, oh well, anyway) while also extending the two outer side fender points a bit too. The front center section will fall away downward with an air intake scoop below to cool the front radiator. The hood will be extended about a scale foot or so to cover the “beak” while carrying the raised cent style peak from the hood down to the front tip. The headlights will remain the same place as the stock car; I am just not sure if I will cover them …..in these designs I left them exposed, but I will see if they get opening doors over them or not.
The side of the car stays basically unchanged except that the side molding and the three little chrome style louvers in the back will be removed to clean up the side and add some more visual length to the car, even though it doesn’t need it.
In the back, I plan on extending the taillights about 6 to 8 scale inches beyond the stock shape. I have a set of large round bullet taillights from the ’57 Ford Fairlane kit that I think will work great on this. I plan on recessing the license plate space into the center of the smoothed out rear of the car
I am grafting on the roof, windshield, rearview mirrors and rear window from the early 90’s Firebird that I just happen to have laying around…….I stuck it on the top of the Thunderbird convertible body and liked the look, so it will get installed. The only concern I have is that the windshield protrudes kind of deep into the engine compartment, so the hood will need modification and hopefully the engine sits down low enough to not be an issue.
As with most all of my builds the doors will be opened but I think I will try a very different and challenging style of hinge, well not really a hinge, more of a retractable door . A few years ago I saw a video that was making the rounds of a company that had created a door opening mechanism that allowed the car doors to recess under the interior instead of swing out. I have wanted to attempt to replicate this ever since but have not had a build that had the right design or look to install it on. Because of the smooth and rounded side of the doors on this design, I think it will work out ok…..this will be a huge challenge, especially because I do not want a stock height on this car……it must ride lower than stock……so I will see if I can make it work and satisfy my design criteria too.
The Thunderbird kit has some Sombrero wheel covers that look pretty nice, so I want to utilize them with some very wide whitewall tires. I think the car will be painted in some kind of Turquoise paint theme. Thunderbirds use Turquoise in their logo for the car, and I always remember, as a kid, the color turquoise being tied to the car, so that will be the dominant color of this build…..but exactly what the paint scheme will be is not certain yet…..as I get into the build, I will get a feel for what will work on it. In these rough design drawings I used turquoise and I like how it looks. I also took some designers license, like the real designers do in the drawing…….just as they tend to do (Chip Foose is also guilty of this) I exaggerated the design a bit. The drawing is stretched out a bit too much, but hey, the big boys do it, so I will too. I think I will get started on, at the very least getting the Firebird roof on the car, then we will see about the rear styling and the nose.