1968 Ford Thunderbird

1968's Thunderbird was an evolution, not a revolution. The '67 model year introduced major changes to the fundamental platform, and this platform carried over to '68 largely unchanged on the surface.

The front grille is the most obvious change; the square-slatted grille this year had fewer slats and larger openings, and the central Thunderbird emblem was gone, replaced by smaller ones on each headlamp cover. The front bumper changed, and the heavy-looking chromed rocker covers were deleted. Front side marker lights were provided, for the first time, along with rear quarter reflectors. The rear was largely unchanged, but the THUNDERBIRD lettering across the back was replaced by a large Thunderbird emblem, also replacing two smaller ones over the outboard reversing lights (in other words, the reverse of the front end changes).

Bigger changes took place on the interior. For the first time in Ford Thunderbird history, bucket seats were no longer standard. They were an extra-cost option; standard provision was a full-width bench seat. The Tilt-Away Steering Wheel also became an option. All the 'Thunderbird' script lettering pieces inside and out were gone, except for two tiny ones on the rear quarter reflectors. The door panel assist straps also became an option, too. The center console, of course, was now gone, because of the bench seat. Overall, the level of trim that came standard reduced quite a lot in 1968, maybe because the Thunderbird's competitors also charged extra for most of these things.

Set against that, a new collapsible steering wheel enhanced driver safety, and the instrument panel was reworked and much neater. Rear window hot-air defrost was new that year, as were tandem windshield wipers that swept a greater area than the old wipers that worked in opposition - they were still, however, hydraulic and lacked an intermittent feature, although ten speeds did mostly make up for that. Shoulder belts for front seat passengers became standard halfway through the production cycle.

Under the hood, the biggest change was the replacement of the Ford 428 engine with the new Ford 429 ThunderJet engine. The 429 was not a Ford FE engine, but the first of a new engine series available as a 429 or a Ford 460, available first on Lincolns and on Thunderbirds from 1972 onward. The 429 developed 360 horsepower as standard, and was an option until January 1, 1968 (halfway through the 1968 model year), when the Ford 390 engine was deleted and the 429 became the only engine available. The reasons for the 390's discontinuance included the increased use of emissions control equipment, which robbed power, and the increasing weight of the Thunderbird itself.

Just as in 1967, models available included the Tudor Hardtop, which sold 9,977, the Tudor Landau, which sold 33,029 examples, and the Fordor Landau, of which 21,925 were sold, making a 1968 model year sales total of 64,931, down approximately 13,000 from the previous year.