The 1959 Ford Thunderbird 430 Convertible comes from Ford Motor Company’s early success in NASCAR. When Ford Motor Company decided to put a 430 ci Lincoln engine in their popular “Square Bird” they had their eyes on NASCAR competition. So for a brief moment in history there was Thunder on the Speedway. Though the experiement lasted only one year, the second generation ’59 Thunderbird won six NASCAR Championship races that year with Ford’s Fairlanes turning in eight more wins.
Just yesterday a 1959 Ford Thunderbird 430 Convertible was posted for sale on the Cars On Line website by a private seller from Florida. (Follow this link to view the ad on Cars On Line.com.) This rare T-Bird is smothered in provenance and historical significance. First of all, the seller says it was purchased new from the legendary Tasca Ford in Cranston, Rhode Island. It has the iconic Casino Cream exterior, a one year only color. And this car is one of the T-Bird convertibles produced by Ford with the 430 big block motor made specially for the Thunderbird to compete in NASCAR that year. It was known as the “Thunderbird Special V8” although the engine was adopted from the Lincoln 430 ci motor. The Ford ads back in the day said the ’59 Thunderbird was “the car everyone would love to own.”
Some collectors will tell you that the J Code 1959 Ford Thunderbird 430 Convertible is more collectible than the earlier 1955-1957 first generation Birds. There were only 1,168 430 J Code big block Thunderbirds produced that year. The first owner who bought the car at Tasca Ford kept it for 40 years. There are three owners of this car recorded altogether. It was originally assembled at the Wixom plant on June 17, 1959.
The Big Block 430 ci Thunderbird Special V8 …
The 1959 Ford Thunderbird 430 Convertible is currently advertised by its owner from Coral Springs, Florida. He describes it as a “highly optioned, numbers matching J code Thunderbird.” The seller says it comes with matching numbers and documentation which proves it has only 41k original miles. The engine is the 430/350 horsepower J Code backed by a 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic, the only transmission Ford allowed with the 430 motor. The interior is bolstered black leather. It has the black top. The seller notes that it has had a stunning cosmetic restoration. The interior, engine bay, mechanicals and body were redone. The seller also notes that the front and rear bumpers were redone, and it has a new trunk kit, plus a freshly detailed engine compartment. It was fully optioned with power windows, push button open rear deck, and power convertible top that disappears under the rear trunk lid for a classic smooth styling. The seller says it exhibits a “show quality” finish. It also has the Kelsey Hayes type wire wheels and white wall tires for a classic look. The Ford factory stamped VIN on the Ford data plate and chassis help to prove originality.
During the cosmetic restoration, the interior, engine bay, mechanical parts, and body were completed providing car show quality results that make this car easy to cruise and to enjoy with the upgrades. A convertible top, carpet, scuff plates, black leather bucket seat upholstery, and other items were replaced during the redo.
Furthermore, the following items were replaced: new exhaust, tires, shocks, front and rear brakes, gas tank, upgraded Mallory solid state ignition module, fuel pump, Holley Carburetor, battery, an overhauled brake system with conversion to dual master cylinder, and other items. And the front and rear bumpers were redone, new trunk kit, freshly detailed engine compartment, plus other updates.
Interesting Facts about the 1959 Thunderbirds …
By 1958, the two-seater early Thunderbirds were replaced with the “Square Bird” body style. The car was a little bigger and had a full back seat. The new “Square Bird” was selected as Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year.
In 1959, the convertible version of the Ford Thunderbird featured a power-operated soft top that disappeared into the trunk area, with no boot to mar the ultra-sleek top-down profile. Promoted in 1959 as the “car everyone would love to own,” Ford sold 67,000 Thunderbirds. It was based on the “Square Bird” body. It was the first year in which Ford would offer leather seats as an option. The Thunderbird was Ford’s most expensive model in 1959, with a base price of $3,696 for the hardtop coupe and $3,979 for the convertible.
Although Ford sports car enthusiasts bemoaned the loss of the two-seater sports car styling, the “Square Birds” actually sold far more units and have been considered more popular. As American car buyers warmed up to the mid-sized Thunderbird power options such as Ford’s Master-Guide Power Steering and Swift-Sure Power Brakes were more in demand.
This rare luxury performance classic is appreciating in value. While they have yet to hit collectors’ radar in a big way, the 1959 Ford Thunderbird 430 Convertible has great investment potential at an exceptionally affordable price.