Thun­der­birds Are Go: Big-screen Birds

New Zealand Classic Car - - Future Car 1963 Ford Thunderbird -

Over the years, Thun­der­birds have ap­peared in dozens of movies and TV se­ries — and here are a few of our favourite big-screen Birds

In Amer­i­can­graf­fiti (1973), although the white ‘baby’ Bird only makes a brief ap­pear­ance, driven by Suzanne Somers, the car (and the girl) pro­vide the im­pe­tus for all that hap­pens to the movie’s main char­ac­ter, as por­trayed by Richard Drey­fus. Pa­trick Swayze may have wowed the girls with his Dirty­danc­ing (1987), but the boys were prob­a­bly more in­ter­ested in Jen­nifer Grey — and the bright-red ’56 T-bird that ap­peared in the first part of the film. If the ac­tors were the stars in the two films noted above, then the cars were most def­i­nitely the stars in the 1959 movie T-birdgang — a low­bud­get black-and-white thriller that in­volves mur­der and gang of ju­ve­nile delin­quents. How­ever, the only rea­son to watch this film would be to see the fea­tured ’56 Thun­der­bird. Pneu­matic hor­ror host, Elvira, ended up driv­ing a ’58 Thun­der­bird con­vert­ible in her movie, Elvira,mis­tres­soft­hedark (1988). Ap­pro­pri­ately, her car was ‘taste­fully’ cus­tom­ized by Ge­orge Bar­ris to in­clude a spi­der­web front grille plus skull-and-cross­bone wheel in­serts. Dis­ney got around to fea­tur­ing a Thun­der­bird in its 1961 film The­p­ar­ent Trap, with one of the main char­ac­ters driv­ing around in a light-blue 1960 model, while fans of Per­ryma­son will prob­a­bly re­mem­ber Paul Drake’s black 1960 con­vert­ible. Less se­ri­ously, there was the fly­ing 1963 con­vert­ible in the Robin Wil­liams com­edy, Flub­ber, although the best

‘fly­ing’ Thun­der­bird has to be the 1966 con­vert­ible that came to a sticky end in Thelma&louise. Then there was the ’64 con­vert­ible that played a small role in the 1964 Bond block­buster, Goldfin­ger. In­ter­est­ingly, Thun­der­birds ap­peared a few more times in 007 films — next in 1965’s Thun­der­ball, as driven by the vil­lain­ous Spec­tre No. 2, Emilio Largo, and then again in 1971 for Di­a­mond­sare­for­ever. Fi­nally, the all-new Thun­der­bird, as res­ur­rected in 2002, ap­peared in Diean­other Day driven by Halle Berry. We couldn’t find any mo­tor sport–type films in­volv­ing the Thun­der­bird, although if you check out the 1969 Paul New­man rac­ing ti­tle, Win­ning, you’ll get to see a Thun­der­bird cut­ting a lap at the brick­yard. TV se­ries which fea­ture cameo ap­pear­ances from a Thun­der­bird in­clude Thelucy-desi­com­e­dy­hour, 77Sun­set­strip, The­rock­ford­files, Crime Story, Thetwi­light­zone, Thefugi­tive, Be­witched, CHIPS, Hawai­ifive-o and Char­lie’sangels, amongst many oth­ers.

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