By on March 19, 2019

Once upon a time in the early 2000s, a special convergence of factors created three very special cars. The most important element in the cars’ creation was the motoring public’s desire for things that appeared “retro” in the early part of the millennium. This retro desire occurred around the same time as some meetings in Michigan, where executives at the Big Three surely conducted consumer clinics with retired old men.

Remember, you can only burn one of these.

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By on March 13, 2019

SAAB 9-5 Aero Wagon, Image: Saab

I hinted at today’s QOTD last week, when the original post for this line of questioning got the ball rolling. Last time we asked which non-luxury vehicles of 2019 were the most overpriced. The subsequent comments reflected a wide variety of nuanced opinions, ranging from “Everything over $25,000 is overpriced” to “Cars should come used from the factory.” Just kidding (maybe).

Today we step back over a decade and talk about everyone’s favorite rounded and cheap plastic era: the 2000s.

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By on February 5, 2019

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn brings three big and brawny American luxury coupes from 1963. You’ll have to burn one — no exceptions.

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By on May 15, 2018

Last time on Buy/Drive/Burn, we checked out three C-body offerings from General Motors and forced you to choose one. The luxury flowed freely, and only limited salt was dashed upon its splendor.

Today we follow the same form with Ford, looking at offerings from three different brands riding on the same platform. Crack open a DEW and let’s get to it.

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By on January 25, 2018

Image: 1980 Pontiac Bonneville CoupeWe introduced the new Buy/Drive/Burn series back in December via a QOTD post (read that first for the rules). Shortly afterwards, the inaugural post in the series tackled the destruction of one of a trio of new luxury coupes. Those powerful and modern coupes are at the higher end of the market, which is just about the only place one finds luxury coupes today.

It wasn’t always that way — there used to be personal luxury for the masses. Coupes in the finest brougham tradition, exuding class, elegance, and sophistication. One of the best years for the personal luxury coupe (PLC) was 1980, right at the height of malaise and the downsizing trend. All are superb vehicles, surely. Which one burns, and which goes in your driveway, and which do you simply borrow from a friend?

And no, the Bonneville isn’t in the running. Too easy.

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By on July 29, 2017

Image: 1955 Imperial Coupe

The other weekend, I traveled down to the rolling green acres of Kentucky for the annual Keeneland Concours event. There was a wide selection of vehicles at the show, and I love taking pictures.

Read on if you’re ready for some vintage American luxury.

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By on June 28, 2017

Image: 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, via Craigslist

Check out these two words: Turbo Coupe. They roll off the tongue nicely, and all car enthusiasts should know exactly they mean — or used to. In 2017, they usually mean someone with a mullet is nearby, driving a beat-to-hell Thunderbird with peeling logos and ruined paint. Likely while listening to Whitesnake.

Our example today is what the term Turbo Coupe used to mean. It is perfect, painted a gleaming black, and on the floor there’s a five-speed manual. Here I go again…

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By on August 10, 2016

1958 Ford Thunderbird (Stephen Velden/Flickr)

Pitchforks and dung aside, the world’s barns often hold undiscovered treasures, from the 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that sold for $43,000 in June, to a bumper crop of Ford Thunderbirds recently uncovered near Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to the Detroit Free Press, an unnamed family recently called a Wayland auction house in the hopes of making a sale. The item? The contents of a barn containing about 50 classic cars, including a bevy of Thunderbirds from the porthole to basket handle eras. (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2016

1996 Ford Thunderbird hotrod

For those who grew up during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, or perhaps were influenced by movies like “American Graffiti,” the hot rod is an iconic part of the youth culture of the era. Countless aging enthusiasts spend a great deal of time and money modifying, maintaining, and showing off classic Detroit iron.

It makes me wonder if, in 50 years or so, will some of my friends still be showing off tuned and slammed Hondas? Will Bozi unfold his tennis ball-clad walker from the rear of his WRX so he can polish the finish one more time before the judges arrive? Will Bark still be preaching about his FiST from a Kentucky retirement home?

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By on November 11, 2015

00 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird in California Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, someone must be hoarding a big stash of Thunderbirds from the mid-1960s through early 1970s, because I’ve been seeing disconcerting quantities of these cars in East Bay self-service wrecking yards going back at least five years (not to mention the 35 Thunderbirds from the 1970 and 1971 model years that I saw at auction before that).

Mostly they’re so rough that I don’t photograph them (though I did shoot this ’65 Landau about a year ago), which suggests that the T-Bird Hoarder is purging hopeless parts cars, one at a time. Here’s another ’65 Thunderbird Landau, seen in Oakland back in September. (Read More…)

By on December 16, 2014

05 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA perfectly restored example of a 1964-66 Ford Thunderbird is worth plenty. A beat-up example, even a non-rusty California car, on the other hand… well, it’s one of those cases where you can start with a thousand-dollar car, apply 15 grand to get it into pretty nice shape, and end up with a car worth $9,500. This cruel math is the reason that today’s Junkyard Find was spotted at a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few weeks back. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2014

10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white two-tone paint job! (Read More…)

By on July 4, 2012

The Thunderbird got an independent rear suspension in the 1989 model year, and Ford added a supercharger to its 3.8 engine and created the Super Coupe. Motor Trend, probably still smarting from the Renault Alliance fiasco earlier in the decade, awarded its Car of the Year award to the Super Coupe, and we can assume that the buyer of today’s Junkyard Find believed that he or she was buying the best car of 1990. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2011


Here’s a car that I’ve been seeing in my neighborhood for a year now; on a busy street that makes photography tough, it kept getting sort of overlooked by me when I went out hunting cars with camera in hand. Yesterday, however, I decided that a 45-year-old, 4,400-pound personal luxury coupe that still survives on the street deserves to be admired. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2010

So where were we? Oh yes. After wandering the earth (and working in a call center) for the first few months of 1995, I ended up at a very small Ford dealership located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. On my first day, I was paired with another fellow who was also starting out at the dealership. I’ll call him… Rodney. He was an outgoing, cheerful thirty-one-year-old man who looked remarkably like the Colt 45-commercial-era Billy Dee Williams. Rodney was very interested in the dealership’s demo program, because he didn’t own a car. Every day he walked from his apartment a mile or so away, and every night he walked back home. The general manager took pity on him and broke the thirty-days-of-service-before-a-demo rule to put him in a Ranger Club Cab.

I started slowly at the dealership but by the time the 1996 model year rolled around I was regularly one of the top two or three guys on the board every month. More importantly, I was the most effective advocate in the shop for the Red Carpet Lease 24-month program. One month I moved 16 units and leased 14 of ’em. At least three of those were people I’d had to dissuade from writing me a check for the whole car on the spot. That’s right, I converted cash buyers to lessors. Why? There was a fifty-dollar spiff.

I was eventually rewarded for my performance by being permitted to order my own demo, just like the 55-year-old Brylcreemers who had been serving at the store since before ‘Nam. I knew exactly what I wanted. Start with a 1996 Thunderbird LX, black with beige interior. Add just three options: Compact disc player. Power Moonroof. And, most importantly, a 4.6 “mod motor”. The order was accepted at the factory. I was four weeks away from my ‘Bird. But Rodney had some other plans involving Ford’s aging coupe…
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