Ford Mustang Posts

Temporary Two Seater: The 1963 Thunderbird Roadster

Over the past few years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. Here’s the story of an obscure two-seat Thunderbird.

anson thunderbird

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

When Ford introduced the first Thunderbird in 1955, the car was an obvious response to the Chevrolet Corvette: A sporty looking two-place convertible, not a performance monster but a boulevard cruiser. While the Vette would undergo multiple redesigns as a two seater (with increasing abilities), Ford made a puzzling move of making the 1958 T-Bird a large, boxy four seater. Sales figures proved them right, but it was such a major departure, and so soon after the original mission.

anson thunderbirdFor 1961, it was already time for a third generation Thunderbird, and Ford finally struck a balance between sporty and practical. The “Projectile Bird” as it came to be called, had a sharply pointed profile with smooth, uninterrupted lines. The chrome that ran across the top edge of the side also acted as the door handle, one of earliest examples of such bespoke hardware. It looked much lighter and faster than the previous car. Twin rocket engine-inspired taillights finished off the look of flight.

anson thunderbirdAnd if the new design was too practical, a solution became available in 1962 and ’63: The Roadster. Among other features, this option included of a large removable fibreglas tonneau cover that hid the rear seat and incorporated fixed headrests for the two front passengers. When attached, the result was two fewer usable seats, a roof that somehow still worked without stowing the cover somewhere, and an undeniably sexy look.

Anson made a 1/18 scale version of the ’63 T-Bird as a landau-roofed coupe, and also as a roadster, complete with removable tonneau. The model is cleverly designed to use the same base car, allowing the necessary parts to snap into place. The downside is a pair of holes in the visors where that top would attach. The cover is plastic, molded in color, which looks good on a black or white model, but on the red, doesn’t quite match the paint.

anson t-birdThe interior does a respectable job of replicating the elaborate chrome and stainless steel that was slathered around the dash, doors and console. Just about everything else is a single color (black in this case), so there’s not a lot of visible detail.

The overall proportions of the car are nice, but the chrome detail falls into two categories: chunky and crude, or painted on. The end result of both make the car look less delicate and sharp-edged than the real thing. .

anson tbirdEngine detail is pretty basic, with almost everything rendered in black plastic except for the light blue air cleaner. Around back, there is an opening trunk that includes the spare tire with full chrome cover. On the real car, when operating the top, the entire trunk and boot cover lifted up, hinged at the rear of the car, in a complex feat of engineering. It’s understandable that a model this size is only hinged like a conventional trunk lid.

anson t-birdA new Thunderbird debuted in 1964, similar in theme to the third-generation car, but a bit more modern. Though it was avaiable in coupe or convertible form, the Roadster option disappeared. Fearing that the car had been competing too much with the newly-minted Mustang, the fifth-generation ‘Bird would abandon any pretense of sportiness for good in 1967. For a brief time, however, the Thunderbird Roadster was able to give drivers a sense of wild abandon.

anson tbird

Is 500 always greater than II? 1967 Vs. 1976 Mustang

1967 1976 Mustang

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy reading about the back story of a couple of very different Mustang diecast models.

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Suppose someone offered you a choice between two vintage Mustangs. The first is a 1967 Shelby GT 500. The second… a 1976 Mustang II Cobra. Easy choice, right? With emission controls, fuel efficiency goals, and new safety standards, by 1976, most cars were slower and less attractive than their predecessors. In fact, the ’67 probably represents the high point in Mustang performance, while the Mustang II easily is the nadir of the marque.

Okay then, let’s take a look at some 1/18 scale models of these two cars. In lane 1, we have the Road & Track edition of the 1967 Mustang from Auto World, which you can pick up for around $85. And in lane 2, the 1976 model from Greenlight, going for around $45. If you can set aside your feelings about the real cars and just consider the models as well as their relative prices, the comparison is closer than you might have guessed.

1967 Mustang

Under the hood, the ’67 is very detailed, as it should be at that price. But the ’76 has a surprising amount of detail including braces hoses, and quite a few parts with separately painted bits. Honestly, they are pretty much on par with each other here.

1967 1976 Mustang

A look at the chassis tells you the detail is worth the extra bucks on the ’67, right down to the body color overspray on the undercarriage. The chassis on the ’76 is a bit more basic, but still nice. Worth noting for both cars: The packaging eschews the usual screw-on base for a form fitting blister insert. The payoff is that neither car requires big, ugly mounting tabs that otherwise mar the design. Let’s hope that’s a continuing trend.

A peek inside both cars reveals a lot. Wait, before you get in, something amazing happens when you open the doors of Greenlight’s Cobra: the front edge of the door dips into the body, mimicking a real door hinge. This is a marvel of miniature engineering, really, something you probably have never noticed or cared about until now. Anything less real will never be the same.

1967 Mustang

Now let’s go inside. The black interior of the ’67 matches the spartan, utilitarian look of the real car, mixing matte and shiny surfaces throughout. It’s accurate, but nothing unusual. The interior of the Mustang II is far more opulent… the carpeting is flocked with fuzzy blue material. Say what you will about other aspects of 1970s cars (we already did), but velour is fabulous stuff. And the rest of the details are on par with the carpet treatment. Heck, you can even get a really good look at the insides with the rear opening hatch. Greenlight really outdid themselves on the interior of this model.

1976 Mustang

For two cars that represent the opposite ends of the performance spectrum in real life, these models are much closer in desirability than you might expect. Both are well packaged with fun graphics, making you think twice about whether to display them loose or in the box. Even the pickiest Mustang enthusiast will have to admit the Greenlight Mustang II would be worth having on their shelf alongside all your other 1/18 ‘Stangs.

1967 1976 Mustang

Inside Scoop: Meet Charlie McHose, Shelby Mustang Designer

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Anyone who’s interested in American cars can name the principle engineers of the Shelby Mustang. There’s Carroll Shelby, of course, and automotive journalist Brock Yates, the , are usually cited as the folks who turned a sporty but mild-mannered coupe into a performance beast. But there were a lot of visual cues that set the Shelby cars apart, and you might not be familiar with the names of the folks who handled those aspects.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

McHose with one of his design sketches.

Charlie McHose is one of those people. He kindly took some time to talk to hobbyDB about his days on the project and shared some photos from his archives as well.

Fresh out of college in the early 1960s, McHose went to work for Ford Motor Company in England. He did a lot of detail work on interiors and grilles for Cortinas and other European models before moving to Detroit. “I worked on the first Mustang a little bit and also some refrigerators.” Yes, Ford Motor Company dabbled in appliances in those days. “Then one day in 1966, I was told I was heading to California to work on a new project.”

The first generation of Shelby Mustang was designed as something of an afterthought, a way to spice up the performance and image of very successful but modestly performing model. Unlike those first cars, the 1967 Shelby was developed along with the incoming car, so McHose was involved from May through July of 1966. The skunkworks were set up in a couple of old airplane hangars at LAX Airport in Los Angeles. (Sadly, the runways were not used for testing, which would have been even more awesome).

“When I first arrived, we didn’t have any cars to work with yet,” he recalled. “So I started on aluminum wheel designs. After a few weeks, we finally got a couple of cars… a fiberglas body and one beat up metal prototype to work with.” The cars were not complete models, missing the interior, glass and trunk lids. (In fact, the steel body was misshapen because that particular car had previously been used for some rather hard seatbelt testing.) Charlie’s main order of business: get to work on the scoops.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

From left: Early roof pillar treatments included windows and flush vents, but inspired by the GT40’s scoops, the final design was more aggressive.

Visually, some of the most important differences between the base Mustang and the Shelby version are the hood scoops (to help the engine gulp in more air) and the side scoops (to cool the rear brakes), and the roof pillar scoops (functional parts of the cabin ventilation, but mostly there to add extra visual interest). McHose worked on them all.

“The hood was a completely different part from the standard Mustang,” he said. “Not only was it fiberglass, but they decided to make the front fenders a few inches longer, so the entire hood grew as well.” So rather than bolt-on parts, the scoops are perfectly integrated into a whole new hood. “All of this was in the days before computer design,” said McHose. “We sketched, drew with markers, built shapes out of clay.” The roof scoops were add-on pieces that covered already functioning vents, but the fender scoops were designed to cut into the decorative vent-like character lines of the regular model and actually do some work.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang Designer

The longer front end required a bigger hood and featured McHose’s scoop designs.

Most of the engineering and interior modifications were handled elsewhere. McHose says he didn’t get to work directly with Carroll Shelby much. “By this stage of the project, Carroll had already made most of the engineering improvement decisions, so he just came around to check in and approve what we were doing,” said McHose. It’s not like Mr. Shelby was being indifferent to this project, however. He just had some other things going on as well. “Carroll spent most of his time in the next hangar over working on the GT40s, getting them ready for LeMans.”

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

The integrated rear spoiler was inspired by the tail of the GT40.

Speaking of which… SPOILER ALERT! Inspired by the tail end of those GT40s, McHose also helped design the integrated spoiler on the decklid and rear quarters of the car. The final roof pillar scoops also echo the look of the GT40 as well, instead of the rear-facing vents that had been proposed at one time.

While in California, McHose got to drive a first gen GT350… as his daily driver! And not just any old ’66 GT350… “This wasn’t a factory production car, it was prototype number one, according the serial number.” Lest you get too envious, the car had already been raced, tested, modified, and generally beat up to the point that it was not in pristine condition. “It drove like a truck,” he said. “It sounded like a tin can, except when you downshifted to accelerate. Then it sounded terrific!”

McHose’s participation in the project was done by late summer, and he didn’t see a finished car until that fall in Detroit. In fact, he says never owned a ’67 Shelby himself. “Back then, employees would buy a new car from the factory, drive it for six months, then sell it and get another new car,” he said. “I eventually got a ’68 Shelby for about six months and moved on to the next car.” Many of the features he designed had already been changed for the new year, so he has some minor regret not snagging one that he worked so diligently on.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

McHose with his daily driver, 1966 Shelby prototype #1.

If participating in the creation of one of the most iconic cars wasn’t enough of a career coup, he also worked with a young designer named Larry Wood at Ford. Larry, of course, would go on to Mattel and become involved with Hot Wheels as their one of their chief designers, a gig he still does today. And after his days at Ford, McHose would reunite with Wood for several years at Mattel.

McHose is modest about his contributions to what is considered the most potent and beautiful version of the Shelby Mustang. “Pretty much all I did was work on the scoops. I’d been working in Ford’s show cars studio, and they could have sent any of us. They sent me.” he said. “Back then, one department worked on the front of the car, another group worked on the back, another created the interior. We had guys cutting out cardboard templates to gauge how the various shapes would align. It’s a miracle all the parts of a single car all fit together in those days.” That may be the case, but in the for the Shelby, oh, did they fit perfectly! And we have Charles to thank for parts of that.

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

Charlie owned this blue ’68 Shelby Mustang for a while before moving on to another new Ford. (All images courtesy of Charley McHose)

Charlie McHose Shelby Mustang

Mustang Collectors Contest

Welcome to the Mustang Collector’s Contest!

We host the hobbyDB collector’s contests to bring collectors from different collecting communities together to share their knowledge and expertise. The ultimate goal is for hobbyDB project members from all categories to catalog every collectible ever made. This contest is for Muscle Machines Maniacs and Ford Mustang Fanatics. The Original Muscle Machines have graciously donated four autographed models with signed design sheets to help the project.

hobbyDB catalog users have already added 1,680 Original Muscle Machines diecast models to the catalog! With  781 Mustang collectibles currently in the catalog, we’re off to a good start there as well. The goal of this contest is to complete the goal of cataloging every Muscle Machines model ever made and get a huge boost on the Mustang collection. Thanks in advance for your help in building the catalog!

Good Luck!

The hobbyDB team.

Maisto-Muscle-Machines-Prizes

Prizes —

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HD 2-pack


Autographed Original Muscle Machines 2 Pack (’69 Ford Mustang/’64 Ford Thunderbolt) & design sheet signed by the Jody Bonham


Prize for:

  • Ford Mustang Fanatics Raffle
  • Muscle Machines Maniacs Raffle
  • Largest Original Muscle Machines Collection[/box]

 

[box]

Build Ups


Autographed Original Muscle Machines ’69 Ford Mustang Build-Up & design sheet signed by the designer


Prize for:

Largest Mustang Collection [/box]

 

Contests


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Raffle Contests

You can earn entries to the raffle contests by adding items to the collection. There will be 2 drawings. One for Muscle Machines or Maisto collectibles and another for Mustang, Ford, and Shelby memorabilia. Entries are determined as follows:

Muscle Machines Maniacs*:

Original Muscle Machines added = 2 entries

Maisto International model added = 1 entry

Ford Mustang Fanatics:

Mustang item added — 2 entries

Ford or Shelby item added = 1 entry  [/box]

Ready to go?


 Or check out what’s already entered in the catalog:

Ford-Collection

Muscle-Machines-Collection

 

Contest begins at 12:00 AM EST January 19, 2015 and ends at 12:00 AM EST February 2nd, 2015. All eligible entries received during the Submission Period will be gathered into a database at the end of the Contest Period. A winner will be selected at random for each of the raffle competitions. The winners will be announced by February 2nd, 2015 on or about noon EST. 
PRIZES — Three Original Muscle Machines ’69 Ford Mustang/’64 Ford Thunderbird HD 2 Packs — One Original Muscle Machines ’69 Mustang Build-Up. Winner will receive the allotted prize within 30 days of notification. An announcement that an entrant will be receiving a prize will be sent to the email address supplied on the potential prize winner’s user account. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his or her email account for notification and receipt or other communications related to this contest. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by hobbyDB within fifteen (15) days using the contact information provided at the time of entry, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize. Prize donations from The Original Muscle Machines shall not in any way signify that they are an official partner or sponsor of the contest.