1976 Ford Thunderbird: Creme Brulee Luxury Group

Here I am once again, late afternoon giving way to early evening, sitting out on the deck, a couple of cocktails in. And gawking at giant, thirsty, impractical yet satisfying ’70s cabin cruisers.

Today it’s a fine example of the ‘thunder thighs’ T-Bird: The 1972 to 1976 version, with a lot in common with the Frank Cannon approved Continental Mark IV.

This was as big as the Thunderbird would get. Gas was cheap, life was good, and people still loved big, flossy land yachts. Well, at least until the late-1973 gas crisis.

But in late 1971, when the all new ’72 Thunderbird appeared in Ford showrooms,  no such austerity in luxury motor vehicles was desired.

That first year was the only year the T-Bird and Mark had the elegant, but virtually worthless slim front and rear bumpers.

Starting in 1973, a battering ram front bumper was added, and in ’74, a matching rear bumper appeared, making these personal-lux coupes even longer.

A case could be made virtually every year for buying a Thunderbird over the Mark. It was cheaper, yet was no less luxurious, and the styling was less baroque.

And by the final year, 1976, they were no less luxurious. In fact, some of the extra cost Luxury Groups almost outshined the Mark in decadence and sheer Broughaminess. To wit: The 1976 Cream and Gold Luxury Group.

This was no car for shrinking violets. Massive, thirsty, and with rather compromised rear seating for normal sized adults, this was all about announcing your status in a flashy, nearly obnoxious way, ha ha.

And yet, I love them. With the growing homogeneity of modern cars and dying off of coupes and even sedans, their look and unquestionably brash, American attitude, will never be seen again, most likely.

But there are many survivors, and many are in fine shape, like this one on Orange County Craigslist, for a mere $8500.

Per the ad: “Helping my dad sell some of his collection. Here is his 1976 Thunderbird with the gold/cream luxury package. Big 460 motor runs and drives great. With just under 64,000 original miles.”

“New windshield, new wide white wall tires, new gas tank, new radiator, carb rebuilt. Interior is in mint condition with the exception of the stain on the dash (looks like somebody left a towel on it).”

“Original California car and my dad is the 2nd owner. This is the last year of the “big birds” Can help arrange transport if needed. Asking $8,500 OBO.”

Yellow leisure suit not included. If any readers are so inclined though, seek the seller out. See you at the supper club!

11 Replies to “1976 Ford Thunderbird: Creme Brulee Luxury Group”

  1. Bill

    I would love to know the demographics of the original owners. How could you choose this over the slim, sleek and faster 60’s car you were probably trading in. Guess rust never slept.

    • CJinSD

      It wasn’t just the performance and styling that suffered. The dashboard also looks like a serious downgrade from that of the 1967 Thunderbird.

    • Jack Baruth

      There’s an auto process. Someone was trying to spam the board from a similar IP. Nothing to do with you personally.

  2. stingray65

    How appropriate that this T-bird is photographed among the big rigs at a truck stop. They are about the same size and have similar fuel economy and skidpad numbers.

  3. John C.

    From the comments above, you really get a sense of the extent that bigger is better as been memory holed in America since the 70s. Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    All I could think was the prospective first owner matching Tom on his deck with his cocktail wondering if he had the guts to get the beige/gold combo. Bet he was glad he did.

    • Carmine

      Bigger is better isn’t always true, for example, a tumor or brain aneurysm…..or shooting sprees…etc etc…..

      This was a bloated turkey and no longer even relatable to the big but still pseudo sporty 1971 and down Thunderbirds.

      All the weight and bloat of a Mark IV with none of the dwindling prestige of a Lincoln, its lose/lose.

      I like land barges and these do have some curiosity, but in my opinion, if you wanted a decent PLC during this era, your money was better spent at a GM dealership.

      • John C.

        Remember though, if your tumor doesn’t prevent, that in the 70s the Thunderbird name hadn’t yet moved to the Fairmont platform and the people generally viewed growth as better. These also had the biggest ever engine, the 460. Interestingly, prior to the oil shock, Ford was working on a 502 V8 to beat Cadillac. For me, the tragedy of Tbird was what happened in 80-81 when they shrunk and by the second year couldn’t even stick to a standard V8.

        The 70s was a glory time when all the big three had competitive PLCs

        • Carmine

          The 80-82 should have probably been on a Panther platform but the rush to downsize was taken to extremes.

          They probably should have even skipped offering the slow selling 1979-1985 LTD and Marquis coupe and just offered a Thunderbird and Cougar on the Panther.

          I would have gone for a more Colonnade Grand Prix Thunderbird for this era, which is sort of what they did for the extremely popular 77-79 Thunderbirds, though they also de-contented the cars to base Torino levels too because Ford can’t resist being cheap.

  4. LynnG

    I had a neighbor right across the street when I was a kid, that purchased a new T-Bird every year. He started with a new one in 1960 and his last new one was a 1980. I will away remember when I saw him one day when he had a 1976 and he had a huge bandage on his calf. I asked him what happened and he said he caugh his leg on side of the rear bumper, he said it took 10 stiches. That road grader rear bumper was the worse. These cars looked so much nicer prior to 1974 when the had the thin bumpers built into the body.
    Epilogue, he continued to buy a new T-Bird every year until 1981 when he moved over to a Buick Riviera, he told me he just hated the 1980. He gave up on Ford. So your theory of Ford being cheap was accurate, T-Birds were special cars though out the 1960’s and early 1970’s and then they went “cheap” but the sticker price did not come down.

  5. sgeffe

    This one looks to be in even better shape than the blue Mark IV featured on here (and “barnfinds.com”) in June. The steering wheel looks to be perfect, unlike the aforementioned Mark with the chunk out of it.

    The color also screams “1970s” better, as well!


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