16-17 January 2014

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Lot 6

1963 Ford Thunderbird 'M-Code' Sports Roadster

  • Chassis no. 3Y89M106625

Sold for $85,250

Chevrolet’s iconic Corvette may have kicked off America’s love affair with the sports car in 1953, but in 1955, many more motoring enthusiasts opted to put Ford’s new Thunderbird in their driveway instead. The luxury two-seater’s popularity grew through 1958, when Ford added a back seat to the car, and by 1960, which was the final year of production for the second-generation “Squarebird,” the Thunderbird had outsold its rival nine-to-one.

The year 1961 saw the introduction of the third-generation Thunderbird, which was now much more of a personal luxury coupe than a sports car, and the minting of another nickname for the four-seater, “Bulletbird,” which was assigned for the car’s sharply pointed nose and rounded sides. Sales were strong but slowing by this time, so Ford lent an ear to some dealers’ and customers’ cries for a return to a two-seat roadster-style Thunderbird.

Lee Iacocca appointed designer Bud Kaufman to come up with a fix, and he did: a removable fiberglass tonneau that would both cover up the Thunderbird convertible’s rear seats and incorporate headrests for the front seat occupants. The cover was originally a dealer-installed option, but in 1962, it found its way onto new Thunderbird order forms as part of a Sports Roadster package, which also included a passenger side grab bar, Kelsey-Hayes chrome wire wheels with knock-off center caps, and a rear fender skirt delete, to clear those gaps.

Thunderbird Sports Roadster production numbered 1,427 units in 1962, but just 455 in 1963, making them rare birds indeed. Even rarer were Thunderbirds ordered with the monstrous 390-cubic inch tri-power V-8, which was designated by an M in the VIN; thus resulting in the nickname of “M-Code” cars. These cars breathed through a set of three Holley two-barrel carburetors and put out some 340 horsepower at the crankshaft, which is to say they were plenty capable of shaming any Corvette-driving challengers.

Ford turned out just 37 M-Code Sports Roadsters in 1963, and the Corinthian White example profiled here is one of them. It was recently cosmetically refreshed with a beautiful, new concours-finish, a black Haartz power convertible top, and the replating of many chrome components, and it has also seen its interior restored in the original factory red. The like-new upholstery is complemented by optional power windows, a power driver’s seat, and the unique Thunderbird Swing-Away steering wheel, as well as optional factory air conditioning, which was added during the restoration. The Thunderbird is accompanied by a set of period-correct floor mats and a spare tire cover, as well as the original build sheet, which verifies this to be a genuine M-Code Sports Roadster, and a copy of the shipping invoice.

Few Thunderbirds are as collectible as the Sports Roadster. This car, with the M-Code V-8, is surely amongst the most desirable of them all.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more