The American Auto Club UK

Featured Autos

1977 Ford Thunderbird

As a recently rejoined ex-member of the A.A.C. (UK), I thought I'd drop you a line to say that it's good to be back!

It was particularly inspiring when the first issue of the newsletter to turn up was the September copy, with all the 20th anniversary information: I first joined the club at the September 1981 inaugural rally, which I had in fact attended as a representative of my then employers, John Woolfe Racing Ltd. I am especially pleased that I've been re-issued with my old membership number, 197.

Throughout my previous membership, I was the proud owner of the Venetian Yellow 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible, registration no. LGU 6D, along with a succession of 'runabout' cars, including a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere, a 1979 Chrysler LeBaron, and a 1981 AMC Spirit. In 1991, I allowed my membership to lapse, as I had sold the Lincoln, and the Spirit, in order to buy my first narrow boat -my other abiding love is the English Canals!

After a number of years running 'cheap' Euro-cars, I finally gave in to temptation in 1997, and returned to real motoring with a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser- the FWD version, with a V6. Two years later, I was back into V8's, with a 1984 Mercury Colony Park; station wagons were the order of the day, as I was by then the proprietor of a passenger boat business on the Grand Union Canal, near Milton Keynes, and the cash & carry run was a regular necessity, to keep the bar stocked! I was quite taken aback when I received the January '02 American Auto News, to see an identical Mercury on the cover, even to wondering for a moment if it was the same one, an idea that Tim Castle's text soon dispelled! Mine was the same, even to the factory alloy wheels and deluxe rack, but registered as FBZ 1466. It was a superb car, great for long-distance cruising, so smooth and quiet, but I found it rather underpowered for driving around the villages where I live, with the little 302 engine.

This year, I replaced our aging boat with a new vessel, complete with keg beers-delivered by the brewery, so I no longer really needed a wagon. ...I was lucky; at just the right time, Rod Eady offered me a 1977 T -bird, with the words on the phone "when you see it, you'll want it!" Boy, was he right! The car is completely original, and in beautiful condition -I bought it in April, with just 28,774 miles on the clock- genuine miles. Built in June 1977, right at the end of the '77 production run, it was sold new in the UK, registered on August 3rd 1977; where it's been ever since is a complete mystery! It has the optional 351M engine, so that the performance and road holding, on the special alloy/steel combo Thunderbird wheels, is quite exceptional. And practically all the other options, too -the only thing missing, to my regret, is the cruise control.

As you can see, the white paintwork is in exceptional condition for 24 years old, albeit with the occasional little scratch and chip. The interior, all in a rich metallic green with real leather seats, is quite literally like new. I hope to be able to keep it entirely original, perhaps touching up the little marks in the paint rather than having a complete re-spray -I recently had it fully valeted by the Waterless Detailers, of Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes, who brought back the new shine to the paint superbly. I can strongly recommend their services to anyone in the area- 01908-312532 if you want to call them.

With so few miles, the T -bird is the nearest thing I've ever had to a new car, despite its age! It drives like new, everything tight, with no rattles or squeaks. The downsized Thunderbird, new for 1977, seems to have been a deliberate attempt by Ford to get back to the feel of the old classic 'Birds which died with the '66 model. It drives very much like a 1966 convertible with which I had a long and familiar association in the 1980's -the same quick performance, taut road holding, firm but comfortable ride -quite different from the 'big fat Birds' of the early seventies, which I have also driven in the past.

I'm hoping to get to the occasional rally, although, in my business, I'm usually working on Summer weekends! At least, now I'm back in the fold, so to speak, I can keep in touch with things in the American Car scene -and it would be good to welcome other AACUK members in the Northampton/M.K. area on board 'Elizabeth of Glamis' when the occasion arises: We shall be running public trips through the Summer, from Easter to October, and the boat can be chartered for private functions by groups of up to forty, so if you fancy relaxing for a while. ..Cruising speed 4 mph, standing quarter mile in around five minutes. …

Steve Miles, Mem No 197

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