Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sort of Unique in All the World

1974 Thunderbird Dealer Promotional Portfolio

This "premium" dealer promotional brochure for the 1974 Thunderbird came packaged as a portfolio, which opened up with an interior pocket holding three separate fold-out pieces. The three interior pieces were divided into Exterior/Performance, Interior Styling, and Optional Equipment. All of the paper used was a nice substantial stock, and the piece measures an ample 10 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.

The cover of the portfolio featured the Thunderbird's hood ornament and what I'll call a setting sun. This would be the last "full size" T-bird developed on its own luxury platform (shared with the Mark IV, of course), and by '77 the Tbird be downsized to the Gran Torino platform.

The Exterior folder opens up to this Pearl White coupe with optional Exterior Decor package and White "Odense" vinyl roof. The dark red pinstripe along the beltline coordinated with the Dark Red leather interior.

The back of the Exterior folder showed this coupe in Medium Ivy Yellow with a Gold Odense vinyl roof. Those horrific I-Beam bumpers were Federally mandated. Starting in 1973, front bumpers needed to meet a 5 mph crash without damage, and in '74 the rear bumpers had to meet the same standard. Tbird's designers did their best with the crude technology of the day, giving the rubber strip on the rear bumper a form that mirrors the shape of the taillights in an attempt to give the square bumper a pleasing shape, at least visually.

The Interior folder opened up to this optional Dark Red leather interior with its reclining passenger seat. The car phone was listed as being available from outside sources. How quaint—the car phone has a cord! Shades of Burke's Law from the 1960s, a millionaire police detective who was chauffeured around in his Rolls-Royce while often speaking on his phone—the first car phone I ever saw.

Joy of Joys! By the late 1960s, people of color were finally being seen as consumers and an integral part of American society, and thus used in prominent advertising. When was the last time you saw a gorgeous green interior on a new car? I think that green is a very soothing color and as shown here, can be very elegant. 

The third folder for this Thunderbird portfolio featured the optional extras. Of note was a Quick-Defrost windshield, which sandwiched a thin gold film in the glass, power mini-vent windows for the front doors, an automatic on/off headlight delay system, and numerous power options and sound systems including 8-track tape decks.

The back page of the Optional accessories folder illustrated the Power-Operated Glass Moonroof. In Seventies-Speak, moonroofs were sunroofs made from glass instead of metal. They both opened up the same way however. Thunderbird had a fairly long history of sunroofs for a domestic car. The 1960 Tbird had an optional steel sunroof, manually operated via crank, and I believe at least 2,500 cars were so equipped. In classic car circles, a 1960 Sunroof is a very desirable, and relatively rare, car. Ford then dropped the option until the 1969 model year, when it reintroduced the opening overhead panel in electrically operated form.


  1. What a spectaular piece! You mention the bumpers -- what a shame that the very clean 72 had to be junked up with these guardrails. Things weren't so great car-wise in the 70s, what with the primitive emissions equipment and trying to add these huge bumpers to almost everything, culminating in the 74-78 AMC Rebel, surely one of the most ridiculous attempts a 5 mph bumpers, although the rubber bumper MGB and Midget come pretty close. It was a tough time for car lovers so for a while I turned my attention elsewhere (nsfw)! I still kept up with the car magazines and the New York auto show and I actually had cars in the 70s -- my 55 DeSoto and later 71 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible.

    Paul, NYC

  2. Great post - another walk down memory lane! My uncle had a 76 Thunderbird- the last of this series - with the Bordeaux Luxury Group - meaning EVERYTHING was bathed in a gorgeous burgundy color - it was a very stunning car when new.
    I have to correct you on one thing though, the 77-79 models were still body on frame. The unibody started with the fugly 1980's - which were gussied up Fairmonts.

  3. I think you're right, PX. I just did some more research, and the '70-'71 Torinos were unibodies, but I guess the '72 reverted to a separate body/frame. I could have sworn I read the other night that the Torinos were Unibodies all the way through the '70s, but can't find that source now.

    It's so great to be able to share my brochure collection with people that appreciate them! I can't tell you how many times through the years I've had people tell me it's a waste of time and space to keep them all. I've had people refuse to help me move them from time to time, telling me they were garbage! It hasn't been easy with my life to keep everything but I'm so glad I have!

  4. I deleted "Unibody" from the post in the interest of historical accuracy, lol. thanks!

  5. Casey, somewhere in Indiana there is a house with 20 lbs of brochures from the 1968,69 , 70 and 71 Chicago Auto Show in the attic . In addition, there are all my Cadillac brochures from the 1960s , along with my designs ,and a 3 inch stack of 8X10 glossies and correspondence from Cadillac Public Relations.

    That all got accidently left behind when my family moved. Not only that,but, (are you ready?) the entire factory-made display for the 1966 Renwal Revival Series. Gone.
    All the Exner models. All perfectly made ,sitting in a clear plastic cases.
    L-E-F-T B-E-H-I-N-D

    I say this to illustrate just how much I, and clearly everyone , appreciate your vast collection. I am very glad to see these treasures preserved and discussed in a very friendly , well informed atmosphere .

    I can only hope my lost collection fared as well.


  6. AP -- what a tragedy! That's very unfortunate. But Casey will save us all!!

    I purged a lot of my brochures from the 70s, 80s, 90s when we sold my Mom's house in 1999. I kept everything older than that but it's all in storage. Some day (soon?) I hope to have room to at least have it all with me if not in some sort of display. The one thing I've kept with me all these years is my extensive collection of Dinky Toys starting from about 1953. They will definitely be displayed at some point.

    Paul, NYC

  7. Hey Paul,

    Glad you understand.By the time I realized what had happened, years had passed.

    Dinky toys from 1953 ! Wow . That must be amazing. What was the first one?

    Now you've reminded me of the lost Matchbox collection !

    We went out car shopping recently and I asked for brochures. Call me Rip Van Winkle ,but I didn't know they stopped printing them ! I sort of stood there lookin' like 'Old Dan Tucker."

    Just curious,but what 70s brochures did you not feel were worth saving?



  8. mfrs don't print brochures anymore? I know Volvo does at least. I went to a Volvo dealer last year with a friend to have her car serviced and I wondered into the showroom and picked up about 10lbs of new "books" of various Volvos. Maybe I put them out of business, lol.

    Sorry to hear about all of your lost treasures, AP. In one of my apartments 15-16 years ago, I had a storage space in the basement. I had it packed with stuff, but rarely went down there. I probably went 3 years without checking on it and when I did, it was empty. I have no idea what was even down there except an antique Ben Franklin stove. Even today, when I'm looking for something I know I had once and can't find, I wonder if it was in that storage space.

  9. I stand corrected. However, I think you took the last of the Volvos,because this year they had none! lol. Honda and Toyota told us to go on-line .Can you believe it? We did manage one from Mazda , plus a mini booklet from Mini Cooper. But that was it. Each dealer told us that they were phasing brochures out.

    Maybe they still hand them out at the auto show, which I missed...

    And to think I lost four, count em' FOUR 1969 Masterpiece From the Master Craftsmen Cadillac Embossed envelopes -filled with individual color pictures.I think each page was protected with spider-web patterned transparent paper. Have you even seen these?
    Those were the days when brochures were brochures!

    That is a sad story about your loss. It's rather haunting to imagine it. Was that all of your collection, or hopefully just part of it ?

    We also lost a lot of photos in The Great Chicago Basement Flood of 1973. There was a photo of my father, a detective at the time, looking like 007 standing next to LBJ's 64 Lincoln limousine when Johnson came to our town to speak. Lost!

    People recounting their lost personal treasures would make an excellent collection of short stories.



  11. that was weird. I posted a comment and got an error message instead....

    G'Night Granny!