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David G.

AMT's 1971 Ford Thunderbird

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One of the cars I remember fondly from my childhood is the 1971 Ford Thunderbird. My Aunt and Uncle owned one and I had occasion to ride in it many times. It was fast and powerful. The body styling was almost as cool as any Batmobile and the interior followed suit. The high-back bucket seats and center console gave the interior a feeling of performance, rather like the cockpit of a fighter jet, while wrap-around rear seat gave the car a custom feel. Overall a very cool car and if I had my own "Jay Leno Garage", I would definitely have one of these in it.

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Yeah. I'm not building that version.

I started this project while I was waiting for some putty to cure on my Karma Bug build. I needed something more simple that I could use to give myself a sense of completing something. Here the body is in white primer with black over-spray from the interior primer.

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I've also stripped the "chrome" from the front grill and tail panel assemblies. The chrome situation on this car is a little complicated and will require some special attention.

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In addition to a moderately detailed version of Ford's 429 V-8, this kit offers an engine plate as an option. Since I'm trying to keep this a simple build and I haven't yet build a model car with this option, I thought I'd give it a try. So we're goin' curbside!

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Given that this kit has metal wire axles with press-on wheel assemblies, an engine substitution plate and holes for screws that hold the whole thing together, basic detail painting on the chassis will be good enough. I wanted simple, I got simple!

I really need to do something about those tires though.  😕

71_T-Bird_03.jpg

As always, thanks for taking the time to look and please always feel free to comment.

David G.

Edited by David G.

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Great start, I really like these cars. The front pan under bumper Can cause fit issues when completing it. I removed mine from the chassis and fit it prior to paint. Rear may also be done similarly. I'd also think about elongating the axle holes in front, and it sits nose high, and T-birds usually did not. If you're doing a wheel swap, perhaps even more. Cool stock colors available too exterior and interior. 

Good luck, watching

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I'll second that about the pans. I don't think you'll ever get a really good fit with them still attached to the chassis plate. It holds them from going into place properly.

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20 hours ago, DukeE said:

Great start, I really like these cars. The front pan under bumper Can cause fit issues when completing it. I removed mine from the chassis and fit it prior to paint. Rear may also be done similarly. I'd also think about elongating the axle holes in front, and it sits nose high, and T-birds usually did not. If you're doing a wheel swap, perhaps even more. Cool stock colors available too exterior and interior. 

Good luck, watching

Thanks for the comment Duke. During some of the test fitting sessions I did, I noticed that the front bumper piece attached to the chassis plate was going to require some adjustment to fit properly, I just hadn't determined what yet. Cutting it loose seems like a very viable option.

I had also considered lowering the front suspension a bit too, probably about 1 or 2 mm. I think I'll go ahead on that one. Thanks for the tip.

18 hours ago, Can-Con said:

I'll second that about the pans. I don't think you'll ever get a really good fit with them still attached to the chassis plate. It holds them from going into place properly.

Thanks for the input Steve. Since that part is a chrome bumper, I had planned on spraying it with Alclad. Having it loose will make that easier. 

Thanks

David G.

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3 hours ago, David G. said:

Thanks for the comment Duke. During some of the test fitting sessions I did, I noticed that the front bumper piece attached to the chassis plate was going to require some adjustment to fit properly, I just hadn't determined what yet. Cutting it loose seems like a very viable option.

I had also considered lowering the front suspension a bit too, probably about 1 or 2 mm. I think I'll go ahead on that one. Thanks for the tip.

Thanks for the input Steve. Since that part is a chrome bumper, I had planned on spraying it with Alclad. Having it loose will make that easier. 

Thanks

David G.

It's not actually part of the bumper, it's just a sheetmetal pan.  

On the '70 cars they're painted body color but, yes, on the '71s they seem to be either plated or painted bright silver.

This is a '70.

Related image

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1 hour ago, Can-Con said:

It's not actually part of the bumper, it's just a sheetmetal pan.  

On the '70 cars they're painted body color but, yes, on the '71s they seem to be either plated or painted bright silver.

This is a '70.

Related image

I had no idea Duke, I don't recall ever seeing one painted like that. The cars I remember seeing had that bit chromed so I assumed that it was a bumper. There were some massive bumpers during that era after all. 

ford_thunderbird_1971_ocker_l.jpg.a0336037dae8bf222fa5b518c0567221.jpg

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In any event, I plan on chroming that part and that will be easier to do with it separated from the chassis plate.

Thanks again for the information and the tip Duke.

David G.

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On 1/26/2020 at 8:56 AM, DukeE said:

Great start, I really like these cars. The front pan under bumper Can cause fit issues when completing it. I removed mine from the chassis and fit it prior to paint. Rear may also be done similarly. I'd also think about elongating the axle holes in front, and it sits nose high, and T-birds usually did not. If you're doing a wheel swap, perhaps even more. Cool stock colors available too exterior and interior. 

Good luck, watching

Here's the first thing I did:

P1120038 (Large).JPG

P1120039 (Large).JPG

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1 hour ago, David G. said:

I had no idea Duke, I don't recall ever seeing one painted like that. The cars I remember seeing had that bit chromed so I assumed that it was a bumper. There were some massive bumpers during that era after all. 

ford_thunderbird_1971_ocker_l.jpg.a0336037dae8bf222fa5b518c0567221.jpg

9272355-1971-ford-thunderbird-thumb.jpg.25ec43444c7d773c69d39850922ab00d.jpg

In any event, I plan on chroming that part and that will be easier to do with it separated from the chassis plate.

Thanks again for the information and the tip Duke.

David G.

No problem, but I'm not Duke.

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1 hour ago, Can-Con said:

No problem, but I'm not Duke.

Sorry Steve. My eyes jumped a line.

David G.

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I did mine body colour, but it is a custom, still I THOUGHT they were body colour, never even checked Google, my bad! I also drilled out those chrome headlights!

P1130124re.JPG

Edited by dino246gt
spelling

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10 minutes ago, dino246gt said:

I did mine body colour, but it is a custom, still I THOUGHT they were body colour, never even checked Google, my bad! I also drilled out those chrome headlights!

P1130124re.JPG

Looks great! Nice grille treatment and there looks to be a custom engine in there too.

David G.

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Big thread here about various builds. 

 

Steve pointed out the chrome, not I. 

David crushed it with the Protouring. 

The Landau is in the thread too, pics may be gone, but it's a 67-69 Roof transplant onto a 70-71. 

I really think the chrome was an option on the roll pan.

It started with the Neiman-Marcus edition 70's. 

a99879_1970.jpg

Neiman Marcus offered Thunderbirds in 1970. The pair retailed for $25,000 and included gender-specific paraphernalia in each. For her: a sewing kit a telescoping fluorescent mirror and a complete tape center with French and Italian language lessons. For him: an electric razor, a dictating machine and locking safety box, along with Spanish and German language lessons. Each Thunderbird also came equipped with a mobile telephone system.

 

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36 minutes ago, DukeE said:

Big thread here about various builds. 

 

Steve pointed out the chrome, not I. 

David crushed it with the Protouring. 

The Landau is in the thread too, pics may be gone, but it's a 67-69 Roof transplant onto a 70-71. 

I really think the chrome was an option on the roll pan.

It started with the Neiman-Marcus edition 70's. 

 

Yeah, sorry for the name mix-up. ADHA and astigmatism are  dangerous combination.

I appreciate all the information and the link. There are some good ideas there, I have more options to consider now.

Thanks,

David G.

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OK, hunted my usual suspects, Tbird club of America, some hole in the wall parts places that have zero repro parts (easy, there are none )

It seems it was a plated front valance that was dealer installed in place of the standard metal one. The N-M cars had it (they were 71's listed in 70 catalog. A random few had it, I saw one 70 thinline grille car with it, and a couple Landau coupes and 4 doors with them. I guess people wanted them to look like the sweet new crash bumpers.Riiiight. It really kills the front end, makes it look ordinary. There were also some of the ugliest GIANT bumper guards added on.by dealers. Thankfully the fake convertible top silliness hadn't hit Ford until 74-75. Bleagh. 

Build it as you wish, but I like the 70 grille best followed by the 71 grille with the fake hideaway headlights and body color pan. I've got a 69 Radio Promo sitting here ready to sacrifice it's rear deck for a Landau. A complete 70 Motor City from Ebay, like new, a reissue 71, and a builder 71 for the Landau swap. Nice way to kill a sunny afternoon with the dog and a Torano 1959 burning.

PS, our friend Casey resuscitated an 8yo dead thread to bring us that thread. Kudos to him. 

Edited by DukeE
casey

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Well, all I know is when I do a Google image search for "1971 Ford Thunderbird" all the pics of them have the bright front pan 

and when I do a google image search for "1970 Ford Thunderbird" all the pics show then with a body color pan.

So, I'd say David is %100 correct with the bright pan on his build.

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You're right.

I couldn't find any replacement bumpers from either year, so no idea what factory parts numbers were. That shape is begging for dents, and since scarce to start with, I'd think there'd be something either repop or repaired. Factory literature really doesn't show that or even mention it. Just odd. 

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On 1/27/2020 at 9:32 PM, DukeE said:

You're right.

I couldn't find any replacement bumpers from either year, so no idea what factory parts numbers were. That shape is begging for dents, and since scarce to start with, I'd think there'd be something either repop or repaired. Factory literature really doesn't show that or even mention it. Just odd. 

Yeah, I always seem to pick the winners. The oddball stuff where nobody can find a clear answer. :D

David G.

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It's time for another update!

 

I painted and detailed the dashboard. I didn't go crazy with the details since the instrument cluster is set deeply beneath the overhang of the upper dashboard and not much of it will be seen after assembly. I also added a gear selector and turn signal lever to the steering column.

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The column itself required some additional shaping work to adjust the angle and position in relation to the seats.

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The finished interior.

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The door panel detail is there but it's shallow. I dressed it up as best I could without going overboard.

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I usually do a color check and paint test on the hood or some other removable body panel before committing to painting the whole body. That way any issues are more easily dealt with. Good news! No issues.

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As always, thanks for taking the time to look and please feel free to comment.
David G.

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OK, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The color is Testors Extreme Lacquer Root Beer #1848 sprayed from a can.

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I've used Testors spray-can enamel before with less than optimal results, so I was reluctant to try their lacquer.

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As far as I can remember this is the first time I've used Testors Lacquer and I have to say that I'm fairly pleased with the results.

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The paint laid down smooth and even and dried fairly quickly. Testors enamel on the other hand will go on smoothly but rather thickly and can take days to dry and weeks to cure... in my experience.

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That's all for now.

Thanks again for all the support and feedback.

David G.

 

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Now that I'm done with the Luftwagen, it's time to get back to the T-Bird.

I managed to get the trim and badges foiled.

71_T-Bird_16.jpg.781b1abbe2370f8ac5327d933def958b.jpg

It's not much of an update but there it is.

As always, thanks for taking the time to look and please feel free to comment.

David G.

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Good looking T-Bird.  I originally thought Ford blew it with the T-Bird after the design change in '58, but many of those new designs have grown on me, especially the later ones beginning with '83.  Really like your  rendition of this one.

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23 hours ago, TarheelRick said:

Good looking T-Bird.  I originally thought Ford blew it with the T-Bird after the design change in '58, but many of those new designs have grown on me, especially the later ones beginning with '83.  Really like your  rendition of this one.

Thank you Ricky. I like most of the T-Bird designs but the '71 and '64 are probably my favorites.

23 hours ago, slusher said:

Looking good David!!

Thank you Carl.

David G.

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It's time for the weekend update!

I've been using Alclad chrome paint for nearly a decade now and I still find it challenging to achieve consistently good results. Most of the time I can make it work well enough but it frequently takes me several attempts. For me the problem is in obtaining a good base coat. I do my prep work, prime the piece and use the recommended Alclad gloss black enamel and everything looks fine. That is until I spray the chrome paint. That's when all the previously unseen flaws in the surface texture become visible and the piece wins a free vacation to the Purple Pond. 

For as long as I've been using paint, enamels and I just haven't gotten along together. I've always had difficulty in getting enamels to lay down with the smooth, even glossiness for which they're known. Brush, airbrush, spray can, roller or Q-Tip, no matter how I try to apply enamel paint, I just can't seem to make it work properly. Lacquers, on the other hand? I get on quite well with lacquers. So the next logical step is to try Alclad over a gloss black lacquer instead of enamel.

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Another down-side of enamels is their drying time. Nearly every enamel I've ever used seemed to require at least a day to dry, let alone cure. Most lacquers will dry within minutes and sufficiently cure within a few hours. This allows me to do the prepping, priming and base coat then spray the chrome all in the same day, one session even.

The only problem with lacquers is that occasionally they are a little too hot for styrene plastic and may cause some crazing. Use of a good primer can, most times prevent this.

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I think, for me, this is the way to go from now on.

As always, thanks for taking the time to look and please feel free to comment.

David G.

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Nice job on the Al-Clad.

Consider getting a dehydrator, they seem to help considerably with enamel dry-time.

Charlie Larkin

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