1963 Ford ThunderbirdSports Roadster 'M-Code'
Year of manufacture1963
- A rare final-year third-generation Thunderbird Sports Roadster featuring nearly every available factory option
- One of only 455 Sports Roadsters produced for 1963, of which only 37 received the most powerful M-Code engine; finished in factory-correct Rangoon Red over a Pearl Beige interior
- Exquisitely restored using many NOS parts; documented by restoration book and sales invoice copy
- Recipient of the VTCI Authenticity Award (2010) and AACA Senior National First Prize (2011), Senior Grand National awards (2013 and 2016), and James Melton Memorial Cup National Award (2014)
The Ford Thunderbird evolved rapidly following its introduction for 1955. From the initial two-seat boulevardier, it transformed into the four-seat, second-generation car with architectural, squared-off styling. By the third generation, spanning 1961–1963, the Thunderbird was all Space Age sleekness, from its pointed nose—which earned it the “Bullet Bird” nickname—to the “afterburner” taillights. This so-called personal luxury car was large, powerful, and offered with a dazzling range of standard and available features. No one, however, would have mistaken it for a true sports car.
The Sports Roadster, introduced for the 1962, was Ford’s way of bringing back the spirit of the first Thunderbirds. Its most notable feature was a removable fiberglass tonneau cover fitted over the rear seats, providing a convincing two-seat look but, should the need arise, four-seat functionality. The model was further distinguished by Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and special badging. Priced at a formidable $5,563 for 1963, the Sports Roadster was never destined for high sales volumes—indeed, the car offered here is one of only 455 produced for 1963.
This car is further distinguished by its “M-Code” engine, making it one of just 37 Sports Roadster so equipped for 1963. This option gave the car’s already potent 390-cubic-inch FE V-8 engine a special intake topped by a trio of two-barrel carburetors, boosting output to 340 horsepower. As a copy of the original dealership invoice on file indicates, this car was ordered with nearly every other factory option as well, including air conditioning, power driver’s seat, power windows, and vacuum-operated power locks (a new-for-1963 feature). All that was missing was the upgraded AM/FM radio. Naturally, standard features like the famous swing-away steering wheel are present as well.
Beautifully restored under prior ownership in Rangoon Red over Pearl Beige, this rare Thunderbird wears its factory-correct colors and configuration. Documented in an accompanying book, this restoration is notable for using new-old-stock components wherever possible, with even the smallest pieces of hardware and surface finishes carefully researched and replicated. While the results speak for themselves, they have also been validated with a series of awards, including the Vintage Thunderbird Club International Authenticity Award (2010), as well as AACA Senior National First Prize and Senior Grand National awards (2011 and 2013, respectively), the James Melton Memorial Cup National Award in 2014, and a repeat Senior Grand National in 2016.
Any third-generation Thunderbird makes a strong impression, with many considering its styling to be the finest ever applied to the long-running Ford model. This 1963 M-Code Sports Roadster adds incredible rarity and an award-winning, well-maintained restoration to the mix, placing it at the very pinnacle of Thunderbird desirability. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/hf22.