Motor Trend, February 1969

LUXURY continued

trols. They are on the left side of the steering column, away from passenger use.
Inside door handles on the T-bird are also the most convenient and easiest to use. They are in the door armrests, but on top. Both Riviera and Toronado inside door handles are in the door armrests, but underneath. It's practically impossible to open their doors without contortions.
Ford probably has the most ingenious cruise control setup, and in the Bird, it is perfection. Control buttons are located in the center bar of the steering wheel and easy to operate with the thumbs. Four controls are used: speed set, speed increase, resume speed (if you brake or if the car goes over the indicated speed in a fast downhill lurch, the cruise control automatically cuts off) and coast, to override the system manually.
The '69 Landau also has a new roof treatment in the quarter section, featuring wider "C" pillars which eliminate the rear quarter windows for a more formal look and more privacy for rear seat passengers. The change enhances appearance, but causes a slight blind spot in the right rear quarter when changing lanes, turning a corner or parking.
Ride and handling characteristics are vastly improved in the two-door models due to suspension modifications. The change in suspension has reduced roll and gives a flatter, smoother ride when cornering. Weight is a decided advan-

-tage, and being the heaviest car, the Bird has the solidest, most comfortable and noise-free ride. The Toronado was the next heaviest and had the next best riding comfort. In addition to better handling, Thunderbird suspension changes have also lowered overall height to 52.3 inches, giving a lower and more esthetic profile to the car. Also improved in '69 are brakes and a fail-safe system for the retractable headlights that automatically opens the headlight doors if the vacuum system fails.
In addition to the luxury gadgets already mentioned, our test car had some great options such as a beautifully toned stereo, convenience lights located in the headliner just above the rear-view mirror which indicate "door ajar," "low fuel," “seat belts," and "lights on," and a tilting steering wheel.
Even though it was the heaviest, the T-bird performed right up there close to the "hot" ones, the Grand Prix and Marauder. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in nine seconds flat is quAte good when you consider the speeds in gear, which are extremely high. The car just won't wind all the way out. Top speed is probably about 140 mph. An indication of how well the speed control works on long trips shows in gas mileage. On one stretch of a long highway trip we got 16.8 mpg. That has to be considered good from a 429 cubic inch engine with a four-barrel carburetor.
Ford hasn't just "added on" the '69 Bird, but has made definite and worthwhile improvements right down the line -– in ride, handling, comfort and convenience. It has that elusive, diffident air known as class.



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