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My '58 Tbird Experience

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  • My '58 Tbird Experience

    I recently received this from a guest viewer of our Forum and tried to contact him to obtain permission to post it. However, apparently, he did not make note of my email addresses and has not responded. I thought this was to great a story not to pass on to our viewers, so here it is....

    "Summer of 1958. I was 16 years old and had just returned to the Seattle, Washington area after spending a year in Montana at my uncle's. I hadn't yet seen the new 1958 Thunderbird, so I visited the local Ford dealership in Auburn. Parked out front of the store was a new '58 T-bird. I climbed in and buckled up. I sat there drinking in the space age interior, console, etc. (Pretending I was driving!) then out walked two men in suits, and as they were headed my way, I quickly unbuckled the seat belt. The two men stopped between the side of T-bird and a Chrysler 300 next to me. One gentleman leaned in the passenger side window and asked if I were in the market for a new car? (I apparently looked a bit older than 16). I answered that I was looking at them. (Just looking!).

    With that he tossed me the car keys saying "well take it for drive, I have to go with gentleman, but I'll be right back". Well what to do? 16 years old and no drivers license!! But this was the chance of a lifetime and I took it. First problem after starting the car was that the gear selector had both D1 and D2. Hmmm? I decided either way I'd be in drive. (I think I chose D1) and off I went. I took it about 2 blocks and back. But at the first stop sign I came up behind some teenagers in another car. What a look I got as they stared wondering how I rated to be driving the hottest car on the market!

    I quickly put the car back where I had found it in front of the dealership and got the heck out of there before I had to talk to the salesman! I always wished I had had the time to go home and show it to my brother.

    Anyhow, I'm always somewhat annoyed how people dis the 58 bird. They obviously weren't there at the time as that car started the now "personal car" craze. There had never been anything like it AND it outsold the 2 seater by 4 times (55-57 vs. 58-60). Anyhow, I will always remember the first time I saw a '58 thunderbird!

    Al Ludlow
    Morgan Hill, CA"

    As for the "seat belts" and "buckled up" part, back then, I doubt that there were seat belts in that '58.... Unless someone had them added... But it is a fun story...

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

  • #2
    That's a great story. Today you have to show your license and insurance card to go for a test drive. How things have changed.

    By the way I've had a few squarebirds with factory seat belts. They were optional equipment back then. A whole $21.

    John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

    Thunderbird Registry #36223 856-779-9695


    • #3
      Seat belts were so rare back then, our local police department ran a special event where folks could have a set of belts installed right in the police parking lot for a nominal fee. That was in 1963.

      The drive was very successful, keeping installers busy the whole weekend. It seems everyone knew a friend or family member who died in an auto accident. Seat belts were around but very few cars were so equipped.

      My father's sister was in a head-on collision in her mid 60s Pontiac. The belt left a real nasty-looking bruise that stretched around the front of her body. She was actually proud of the black and blue, telling folks she should have died that day if it weren't for the belt. God spared her for another twenty five years.
      My latest project:
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      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca

      From: Royal Oak, Michigan


      • #4
        My '58 Tbird Experience

        Thanks for the additional input, John and Dave! Dave, your father's sister was indeed lucky that day. One tends to think that no Tbirds had seat belts in them back in '58-'60 until you look at the Optional Equipment listing for the '58's. There on that list of 31 optional pieces of equipment (3 that became Standard Equipment during that production run, in May '58) there are the front seat belts listed for $21 as John said! That '58 that Al Ludlow drove might have had a lot more of those optional items on it since someone ordered it with front seat belts, apparently. Perhaps the dealership had it really decked out with all the bells and whistles one could get as a selling point.

        Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
        The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
        Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411


        • #5
          Great story. That was the 1st thing I did when Marg and I purchased our TBirds was installed seat belts for safety.
          There are a little more vehicles zipping around now than in the 50's & 60's
          Dano Calgary,Alberta Canada
          Thunderbird Registry
          58HT #33317
          60 HT (Sold )