Saturday, 28 January 2017

The problem with a Thunderbird.

This is something you may not often see; a full set of Ford Thunderbird Hard Tops. Whilst the pale green and cream 214 and later dark grey and maroon 214S were very popular and fairly easy to find still, the pink and black 214M is quite scarce.

It appeared in March 1959 and by all accounts production ceased later that year or very early in 1960. Only the Austin A40 216M had a shorter life amongst these models. The Mechanical editions were more expensive - a shilling was a lot in those days and represented not far off an extra 30% on the 3/6d price of the normal model.

You couldn't get the same turn of speed from the M editions either, and with a name like Thunderbird you needed a car that really could be whizzed around the carpet at speed.

There is a minor insurmountable problem, however, with these Thunderbird models. How on earth do you change a tyre on a rear wheel? Until yesterday I had not been troubled by this other than briefly in my mind; all the examples I had were sufficiently well-shod for me not to worry. This is only the second 214M that I have had. the first had a motor that was very stiff so the wheels didn't turn much anyway. This one, however, has a near-perfect motor and runs well. So having nice tyres all round was important and it arrived with some very ugly ones on the back which simply had to go.

They were exceptionally like balloons with very squashable profiles - probably why the previous owner had used them as they just about slipped through the extremely narrow gap between the wheel hub and body. As the axle is fixed it cannot slide horizontally to create a little more room. I tried very hard to fit some correct size and style tyres, using all kind of tools and a great deal of bad language at times but to no avail. I couldn't fit them - not even the quite narrow ones.

So there I am, staring at the underside of a pink and black Ford Thunderbird and wondering whether I should perhaps have left the ugly old ones on. But they really did not look right and this is such a nice car with minimal flaws that I really doubt that I'll come across a better example - and that it would be one that I would be able to afford if I did. So it has to look right. Those rear tyres have to get on.

The solution I have had to adopt is to cut the tyres, wrap them around the hub and then glue them together again. Yes, mad, I know. But what would you do?

And I am quite pleased with my work. You can hardly see the join!

Next job is to try and clean the inside of the windows! That won't be easy either.

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