View Full Version : New Users '60 Squarebird W/Removable Hardtop

01-10-2017, 11:16 PM
Tim ~ T4zbigrt just joined the Forum a bit ago and said he owns a 1960 Squarebird with a removable hardtop! That got me to thinking about the ONLY other Squarebird I have ever seen pix of with a removable hardtop that Alexander sent me pix of years ago. I spent a long time searching for those pix and found the two of them in an old folder of his we got from Julie off his puter years ago. This is a 1958 silver Squarebird with the hardtop removed and sitting up against the wall. I hope that Tim will post pix of his Squarebird in the Our Rides Forum for us to enjoy! I know there are Squarebird owners out there who have chopped their hardtops off, but just to make it a convertible, perhaps with just a soft top. Here ya go!

Dan Leavens
01-11-2017, 08:32 AM
Ray thanks for finding the pixs in the old folder. Is there any other history on this 58 with the hardtop removed?

01-11-2017, 10:19 AM
Hi Dano, nope. All I ever found was those two pictures and that was it. It, apparently was being offered for sale somewhere, probably in this country. Perhaps someone on here might know something about this Squarebird and say something. That was two pix that were on the CD that Julie sent me from Alexander's PC some years ago. Those CD's allowed Dave and I to reconstruct many of the missing images we had on the Forum. There was one other picture that was there also and it was the picture of the retractable Squarebird that it is thought Ford was working on developing at one point. Here is that pic, but you cannot tell if it is a '58, '59 or '60. You can see a bunch of "suits" in the background talking about something. As it says, you can see the two breaks in the roof line that indicate it has a retractable roof on it. I would think it was probably a '58, since that is the time frame, '57-'59 when Ford produced the Big Fords with the retractable tops.

01-11-2017, 04:53 PM
Ray, the removable hard top is very cool. I would like to see more on how it was done, I like the idea.


01-11-2017, 04:56 PM
Unfortunately, that is all I have on it. I would hope that whoever did that modification knew to strengthen the body to keep it from whiplashing and breaking the windshield when the top is off...

01-12-2017, 03:15 PM
Unfortunately, that is all I have on it. I would hope that whoever did that modification knew to strengthen the body to keep it from whiplashing and breaking the windshield when the top is off...

Good point, I always felt the Squarebirds looked like their roof was built to be a lift off...

01-12-2017, 06:21 PM
Hello Squarebird veterans!

Thanks for the nice welcome to the forum! A little more about my 1960 removable hardtop. Picked it up a few months ago from a friend whose Pop passed away last August after enjoying the car for many years. When I first heard about the car I was told his Dad "turned it into a convertible". My experience is that's usually a hack job, but I agreed to evaluate the car and help him market it for his Mom. To my great surprise, the work his Dad had done on the car back in the mid eighties, was very professional, and the car had some very nice features. I ended up buying it, but to be honest, the cut off hardtop represents a big question mark for me in terms of value. I'd be interested in your collective thoughts. Here's what I have:

1) A 1960 hardtop that had the roof professionally removed and refit to attach like any removable hardtop car. The clips at the top of the windshield are chrome plated and must have been stock for something and reused for this project. They look like they would have looked had Ford offered that body style! The rear of the top has guide pins on each side that fit into holes in the trunk cowling, forming a tight, weatherproof seal that looks just like an unmolested hardtop. The PO had a rope and pulley arrangement in his garage that allowed one-man raising and lowering of the top to and from the car and suspended the top from the garage rafters while in convertible mode. The car had stiffeners added to the undercarriage as required on any legitimate convertible conversion. There are four longitudinal square bar stiffeners welded to the bottom of the car, 2 outboard and 2 inboard. They were caulked and undercoated to match the rest of the underbody. Have 30+ years, it must have been done right because there is no sag, no stress marks and all the gaps on the car are perfect.

2) The car was purchased new by the PO's uncle in Ohio and passed to him (in California), when uncle died in the late '70's.

3) In about 1985-86, the top was modified as described, the car was painted from the original white to the current (very tired) red. The repaint was done beautifully with not only the jambs and inside trunk and hood painted, but the motor and trans were removed and painted red to match the car.

4) The Air cleaner, overflow tank, power steering tank lid, valve covers, coil cover and carb linkage were chromed at that time also.

5) The interior is red and white. I think it may have been renewed at that time as well, but parts of it show age fade, but no rips or worn spots. It was garaged it's entire life. All the gauges work, even the stock radio, although a cassette deck was added in that era, but not in a destructive manner.

6) The car has 72,000 original miles. I have all the paperwork which is how I know what was done and when. The engine and trans were rebuilt at 64,000 miles, so I have a very fresh drivetrain if you don't count the 30+ years since the work was done!

7) The PO converted the front brakes to discs. They still work great with no work needed except fresh fluid.

8) The car is fitted with two period correct glass pack mufflers which rumble just enough to sound cool without vibrating the windows.

9) The distributor was upgraded to pointless ignition. The carb is a Holley 4160.

10) All I have done to the car so far is rebuild the carburetor, replaced the fuel pump and filters, replaced the battery, replaced the radiator and flushed the system, drained and flushed the fuel tank, and change the oil and filter.

Looking forward to learning a lot on this forum. Thanks.

01-12-2017, 07:15 PM
It's hard to put a value on anything that's customized so dramatically from the norm. Certainly being in California makes it less of an obstacle having a cut off top. If you are thinking of selling there are probably areas of the country that will look at it as a detriment. Also most purists will be turned off by it even though by your description it appears to have been done very professionally. I would say the value probably falls somewhere in between a nice convertible ($17-25,000) and a nice hardtop ($8000-12,000). I would be interested to see some pictures of the custom work that was done if you can post some. That being said welcome to the forum and don't hesitate to ask as many questions as you like.


Joe Johnston
01-12-2017, 07:24 PM
Please post pictures of the latches used front and rear. Someone can probably identify them. The obvious choice would be from the 55 - 57 Thunderbird tops as everything would be readily available.
Sounds like an interesting and desirable custom!

01-12-2017, 07:35 PM
Tim is going to email me pix and I will post them here as soon as I get them. Tim, send as many pix as you can of the exterior and interior of the Tbird, and the modifications made to it. Also, if you do not mind, send me a copy of the Data Plate if you have it so we can see what she left the factory as. IF you do not have the breakdown of the Data Plate data, I can provide that to you. If you do not have a Data Plate pic, just send me the info off it.

01-12-2017, 09:33 PM
Here is what Tim ~ t4zbigrt sent me and had to say. I have asked him if he has any pix of the clamps locking the front and how the rear of the top fits into the body. I will post anything else he might send. Here is also some additional info Tim just sent. 352 Engine, SN 146218 = 46,218th 1960 Squarebird built. I happen to have the complete daily production numbers for the 1960 Squarebird production run in the TRL. On the 4th of April when his Tbird was scheduled to be built they had 400 scheduled and actually built 412 & 9 export models that day.

Body - 63A - Hardtop: Color - M - Corinthian White: Trim - 55 - Morocco Grain Vinyl Bolsters & Inserts - Red/White: - Date - 04D - 4 April 1960 - give or take a few days, depending if they were ahead or behind schedule: - Trans - 4 - Cruise-O-Matic: Axle - 3 - 3:10.

"Here you go Ray. These are the pictures as I found the car and as it arrived at our shop. Not even washed off yet! By the way, I also now know that the car has 15" wheels, not the 14's it came with. The PO's family just told me they have the 14's if I want them. The 15's explain why the car seems to have 77-79 t-bird hubcaps! Tim".


01-13-2017, 01:23 PM
I would like to say something to any of you who might be considering chopping the top of a hardtop to make it a convertible. Others have done this before but failed to take the necessary measures to strengthen the body. Before you do that, take a good look at the outstanding article by long time Tbird fan Bill Van Ess on what is required to strengthen a hardtop being chopped. There is a big difference in the construction of the body of a hardtop and a convertible. If one does not heed and do the modifications he provides, you stand the risk of long term and severe damage to the car, and possible windshield breakage. You will find his information at the beginning of the TRL. The PO of Tim's Squarebird either read that article or the person(s) who did this modification did and took the necessary actions required. Tim said that this was done quite a few years ago and as a result, there have been no problems with this Squarebird regarding that removable hardtop and the car body. Read and heed!

Ron of Chicago
01-13-2017, 03:58 PM
Great car. Great job.

I too would like to see the close up of how it gets fastened. Are there clamps in the back also?


01-13-2017, 04:08 PM
Hi Ron, read through his Post #7, and you will see that he said the front is locked in place with clamps (which he is going to send me pix of). The back is held in place by studs that go into the body. You will also see how the PO strengthened the body to keep it from flexing and breaking the windshield.

01-13-2017, 04:40 PM
Very impressive find. I think that "tired" red paint will clean up and polish out rather nicely. The interior pot metal and chrome can be brightened up using diet coke and a blue scotch brite pad.

01-14-2017, 12:20 AM
Tim has provided me with a lot more pix and commentary. You will be able to see how the front of the top locks
in place, much like it does on Babybirds and Retrobirds. You will also see how the back and sides of it lock onto
the body. In addition, you will see several shots of the engine bay. Thanks, Tim, for providing the pix and helping us document this rare modification and how it was done. Here is what Tim had to say.

"Hello Ray,
I took the pictures you requested today. I've been very impressed at the knowledge of the members of this forum and I look forward to their comments and advice. I'm also impressed at the engineering that went into this
modification. I'm thinking that the best I could do for this car is to preserve and restore what apparently is a
very cool "restomod" from the 1980's of a very popular 1960 Thunderbird.

This is a shot of the right side undercarriage where square bar stiffeners were installed. Note that the inside
stiffener is welded to the frame section that rises to loop over the rear differential. Following continuous welding,
the PO had the stiffener caulked to simulate undercoating.

Here is a shot of the four stiffening bars welded to the undercarriage. The two inside bars run from the rear
frame loops of the rear differential to the center tunnel just behind the transmission. The two outside bars reinforce the outside curve of the unibody longitudinally, adding support to prevent center body sag which could potentially occur when removing the roof structure.

Also note the classic, vintage glasspack mufflers which still sound like the 70's!

Hardtop removed

Headliner needs work, but here you can see the windshield clips which fasten the roof to the windshield.
Front clips are bolted to a steel bar running across the front edge of the roof, just under the headliner.

Slightly out of focus shot of the chromed drivers side receiving clip for locking the roof to the windshield.

This is the passenger side of the rear roof section of the removable top. The plate through which the chrome
bolt passes was apparently added as a bracket to hold the roof down on the body. Lateral support is provided by
centering pins on both sides of the rear of the roof section.


This is the drivers side rear roof hold down section (B pillar). The window is the rear windscreen. Note the chrome bolt which holds the roof onto the body, the (rusty) tapered pin centering the roof to the body, and the 12 volt electric wire powering the dome light on the removable roof.

Top down view of the receiving end of the roof hold down system. The largest (1/2") hole is where the tapered
centering pin goes, the hole in the white upholstered piece is where the chrome hold down bolt screws into. The
snaps around the outside edge are for fastening the tonneau cover when the top is off.

A few shots of the engine compartment. The chrome needs some elbow grease, but the overflow tank and the top of the power steering reservoir cleaned up beautifully! Tim."