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JamesR

Could Ford have successfully marketed/sold a T-Bird wagon?

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Normally I'm not crazy about the Cadillacs and Corvettes that have been turned into El Caminos or wagons, but Penske PC-7 put together a very nicely done Corvette panel delivery (pics posted the other day elsewehere on this forum) and then I found this '62 T-Bird on Ebay that was so aesthetically pleasing (to my eye) that I wonder if Ford could've actually sold something like it. What do you think? Would anyone have bought this Thunderbird if Ford sold it back then?

 

One of the reasons I'm not crazy about these modified cars is that they often look cobbled or chopped up, but sometimes  - like with this T-Bird (or the Vette panel delivery) - the lines seem to flow better. Unfortunately, however, I think that's the exception more than the rule.

 

I think this car has a Vista Cruiser top, but to me it's kind of in the spirit of a Nomad. Almost looks that classy. I can't tell from the photos how well executed it was, but it seems well conceived if you're receptive to such things. I'm sure many Thunderbird guys probably hate it, but the wagon guys may really like it. I'm both a Thunderbird guy and wagon guy. Mostly interested if you think it could've sold. I think Ford did try to put together a concept car along these lines. (Don't worry...I won't be doing this to my '65 Thunderbird.)

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1962-Ford-Thunderbird-Custom-Wagon/382816261025?hash=item5921a093a1:g:HvAAAOSwkGJcebj0:rk:1:pf:0

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1 minute ago, mercer09 said:

back window has shades of Pacer.................

😁 I agree about the rear window. One of the few thing I don't like about the car visually, and the kind of stuff that's too common on most cars that are modified into a different body type.

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This and things like corvette wagons wreck what the designers envision for the car in my humble opinion.  I like the style of the 60s rocket inspired T-birds and complicating that style with a wagon just doesn’t do much for me.  Integrated designs like the Chevy Nomad and Pontiac Safari look better overall in my eyes.

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It has the look of those prototype cars that didn't make it into production.

 

A period Thunderbird buyer would not have accepted that interior, even in a coupe.

 

Fifty years later the use of GM panels is too obvious. It should have used a Ford roof and a better designed clamshell tailgate.

 

I really like custom and prototype cars, not this one. It is in Missouri. Maybe two guys were sitting in a bar and one said he'd like a Thunderbird wagon. The other guy said "Show me".

 

Bernie

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There is a reason virtually every station wagon of that period looked clumsy and heavy: No one sat down and designed a station wagon. The companies spent 2-3 years ahead designing and tuning the requirements for a sedan, and only after the final production decisions were made did the B team design modifications for a wagon, complete with poorly aligned rear windows, etc. By comparison, no one does that much today. SUV's and most hatchbacks are designed pretty much from scratch, and although may share some front sheetmetal with sedans, they are more likely to be a full organic design. This is one of the reasons so few station wagons are considered collectible today, except for the Nomad, I'm not sure why anyone would choose to own one. 

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Well, here is one ole' boy that would have bought one, I love it !  The rear glass could also be from a Pinto looks like.  

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Posted (edited)

I'm enjoying all of the opinions! Some real good points.

Quote

Fifty years later the use of GM panels is too obvious

 

I agree, it's a distraction. But I'm wondering how that look would've been received by the public back then, a couple of years before the Vista Cruiser...and well before the third generation of T-Bird had become a vintage collectable (and was still seen as something new and different.)

 

I know that the second generation of T-Bird starting in '58  was a big disappointment to the two seater fans, with many of them saying, "That's not what a T-Bird is!" (Many still say it today.) But what happened to the sales in '58? They went through the roof...the three years of the second generation outsold the three years of the first generation by a factor of four to one. The Ford designers tried to take the T-Bird to different functions and markets, like with the four door sedan in '67. No, the '67 4D wasn't a great seller, but it wasn't horrible either...it still outsold the first generation by quite a margin.

 

The 1960's was the heyday of the station wagon, and Ford was the king of the station wagons, so could an ultra sporty wagon in the spirit of GM's great Safari and Nomad models have sold? I don't know...maybe if they had put wood paneling on it! 😃

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)
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I love all wagons especially custom "one of none" exercises, and I owned a custom Cadillac wagon that I always regretted selling - I would have bought one of these from the factory in a New York minute.

IMG_0025.jpg

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James,

I think this was an ambitious project that turned out pretty well. The body lines look ok to me but I have to agree with others here, the interior is too modern for the body. It's crying out for some nice vinyl upholstery. 

That being said, I think your original question of marketing would have been pretty tough. Ford offered the full size (Galaxie platform) wagon, then the mid sized Fairlane wagon and the compact Falcon wagon. All utilitarian family haulers. I don't think a T-bird wagon would have found a niche. It was also a higher end price car which would have limited it's availabilty as a soccer mom hauler.

Interesting idea though.

Greg

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I like the concept and the way it looks, although the build quality looks iffy (note how lumpy the panel under the rear "tailgate" window is). Then again, I'm a wagon guy and I like "what if" cars that maybe the could have built but didn't. I'm a big fan of this one, too:

 

3-1965-ford-mustang-wagon.jpg

 

Not at all practical, but a cool idea of how things could be done. Wagons are completely sales-proof, of course, but it's fun to see them done in ways you don't expect.

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2 hours ago, GregLaR said:

James,

I think this was an ambitious project that turned out pretty well. The body lines look ok to me but I have to agree with others here, the interior is too modern for the body. It's crying out for some nice vinyl upholstery. 

That being said, I think your original question of marketing would have been pretty tough. Ford offered the full size (Galaxie platform) wagon, then the mid sized Fairlane wagon and the compact Falcon wagon. All utilitarian family haulers. I don't think a T-bird wagon would have found a niche. It was also a higher end price car which would have limited it's availabilty as a soccer mom hauler.

Interesting idea though.

Greg

 

Those are real good points. It could be that the typical early '60's T-Bird buyer was trying to distance himself from the station wagon market as much as possible, given that there were so many of them back then.

 

This brings up another question: 55-57 Safaris and Nomads are almost universally admired by '50's car collectors...but how well did they actually sell when new? I rarely see the Safaris (only once in person.) I know they were a lot more expensive than your standard Pontiac/Chevy 2 door sedan or HT. If they didn't sell that well when new, that would also explain why Ford never pursued a T-Bird wagon.

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Too bad that T Bird on eBay doesn't have the enlarged photo option, what I can see looks rather nice. Bob 

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I 100% agree with the Nomad / Safari comparison. The market was not generally looking for a luxury 2 door station wagon.  They were seen as family haulers not prestige  "statement" cars. Very few of the 2 door wagons were great sellers especially if there was a 4 door version also offered. They make very interesting styling exercises however I doubt any of the sporting cars , Mustang, Corvette, Camaro, T bird, Baracuda , Etc. would have been popular sellers as a wagon.

 

Greg in Canada

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1 hour ago, 1912Staver said:

I 100% agree with the Nomad / Safari comparison. The market was not generally looking for a luxury 2 door station wagon.  They were seen as family haulers not prestige  "statement" cars. Very few of the 2 door wagons were great sellers especially if there was a 4 door version also offered. They make very interesting styling exercises however I doubt any of the sporting cars , Mustang, Corvette, Camaro, T bird, Baracuda , Etc. would have been popular sellers as a wagon.

 

Greg in Canada

 

I think you're right. The only sporty production "wagon" I can think of in the US that had any presence in the '60's/early '70's was an import: the Volvo P 1800 wagon. I did actually see them now and then back in the day (and even more recently), but according to wiki only 8000 were made during their two or three year production run. But I still think they look great. A nice looking collectable in my mind.

 

Looks like the T-Bird's odd rear window may have been inspired by this one.

 

 

 

1024px-1973_Volvo_sportwagon.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

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My guess is the back window is from a camper shell. Looking at the type of seal used, hinges and T handle. A quick look at shells for full sized trucks pulls up a lot that look very close.

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Posted (edited)

Yes definitely, although the Volvo is a much smaller, less practical car {compared to the T Bird}. When they were new everyone I knew liked the look of them but not so much the price tag. I can't find or remember the original list price however it was reasonably expensive. And the performance was slightly disappointing. They looked like sports cars however they were built like all Volvo's , rugged but at the same time fairly heavy for a small 4 cyl. engine. 

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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17 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

Too bad that T Bird on eBay doesn't have the enlarged photo option, what I can see looks rather nice. Bob 

Keep scrolling down below the description, there are a lot of full size photos.

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1 hour ago, TexRiv_63 said:

Keep scrolling down below the description, there are a lot of full size photos.

You must have far better computer skills than I do. Bob 

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Have always liked small wagons for overnight trips, had an Astre wagon with a steel sleeved engine that never have any trouble. Would have considered a CTS wagon except it has too many doors.

There was also a Pinto two door wagon so there were some in the '70s.

 

2intx.jpg

 

.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2019 at 6:38 AM, Xander Wildeisen said:

Very cool...and it doesn't look at all like a hearse. Not a practical production car, I suppose, but it looks good if you like the concept. (I'm ignoring the channeled body, lowered chassis and other typical customized features that I generally don't like on most old cars.)

 

 

Okay, as of now - 3:19 pm Central time, 3/6/19 - the T-Bird wagon has 70+ bids up to over $19,000, so other people like the idea, too. I think if it had been better executed it might've been higher (I agree the interior was lacking...and then some.) About an hour and a half left in the auction.

Edited by JamesR (see edit history)

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