Coachbuilt 1979 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

No, Ford never made a Ford convertible between the mid-60s and the 2002 "final bird."  Coachbuilt convertibles were very much a thing in this era, as there were no factory convertibles for several years, due to DOT regulations which were rumored, but never came about.  These beasts filled a void and, thanks to them, we have malaise era convertibles.


The seller here claims 80K miles and a 351 engine.  The engine compartment is so crowded with smog equipment that we can't even tell if it's Cleveland-based (the 351M and 400) or Windsor-based (351W or 302).  Oh well, suffice it to say, this 1979 vehicle contains a V8 putting out well under 200HP and with nothing except low-end torque in its favor.

The suspected builder is American Custom Coachworks, and we found a link to one of their marketing images.  This particular example look rather neglected and the seller says it has been parked since 2001.  Some electrical bits don't work, so any new buyer will have to track down potential wiring or corrosion issues.  We recommend starting your offers at or under $1,000 if you feel you must have this one.

Click for Craigslist ad
Nipomo, CA, USA
$3,250


With the top chopped, this look remarkably like a Buick Riveria in profile.


Front, however, is all Ford.


As are big-ass tail lights.  Note the top is only barely there, although the seller claims the power mechanism works.


Interior could be a lot worse for a neglected convertible with a questionable top.  We'd want to see those floor pans, though.


Yes, there is still a back seat, but it seems to have lost some space.


Here's the V8, which the owner thinks is a 351.  The top hose seems to enter the engine more like a Cleveland than a Windsor, but it's really hard to tell here and a 351 could be either.  Hopefully, any potential buyer can do a quick VIN decode.

Ad text:

I have a 1979 TBird convertible for sale. Detroit did not build convertibles in 1979-1981 because of safety issues. Americans love their convertibles, so, a company out of the Los Angeles area took hardtop automobiles and converted them to convertibles. I think the name of the company was Custom Coachworks. I have found solid production numbers on this exact T-Bird, however I do not remember what it was except that it was pretty low. 

The pictures do not really do it justice. It looks better in person. The last picture was taken the day I got it from the impound yard The owner had it stored, in a barn, and had passed away. The towing company removed it to their yard. You can see what the top looks like.

I think that the motor is a 351. It runs pretty good. Transmission and brakes work fine. The interior is decent.

The top is pretty well shot. It goes up and down fine. It is a power top. It does not have the glass back window. It was a plastic one instead. 

The car is currently in no-op status at the DMV. This is a barn find, literally and has been sitting since 2001. It has just over 80,000 original miles.

The chrome on the bumpers is peeling off in sheets. They look to be a low quality re-chrome job. 

The drivers seat and window will not operate. The radio comes on and lights up, but no sound comes out. The heat and a/c blower does not operate. I have not checked the fuses. 

The car is about 99.99 rust free. The paint may buff out okay, but is kind of oxidized. 

I am located in Southern CA about 90 miles north of Santa Barbara and 10 miles south of Pismo Beach in Nipomo. I can deliver the car, up to 200 miles or so, for $1.00 per mile round trip after it is paid for. Please email, text or call Dana. Blessings!

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