The Thunderbird and 240SX’s Unseen Changes

Looking back at last season, in the whirlwind of new cars, wheels, flares, and everything else that happened, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Thunderbird and 240SX were left untouched – that they simply came out of storage, did their rounds, and went back into it without any changes or updates – but you’d be wrong. Both vehicles actually had a fair bit of time and effort put into them but the majority of the work ended up being nearly invisible to the eye – and that’s the point.

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The Thunderbird saw the greater amount of work as it was left with a friend of ours for most of the winter to tinker on. He is an absolute master when it comes to vehicle restoration – easily one of the best, if not the best around – and was able to take his time addressing a number of little updates and fixes throughout the car. While the bird was in his care both front seats were reupholstered (while retaining the original factory embroidery on the backs), various interior trim pieces were refinished, the dashboard’s lighting was updated, the tail lights were swapped to LEDs, and the original 1967-only vacuum-operated headlight doors were replaced with factory ’68+ electric units for more reliable operation.

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Following all of this, as the final countdown to the car season was upon us the Thunderbird was picked up and delivered to The Auto Protectors for a full wrap in paint protection film (PPF).¬†The car’s paint was holding up pretty well following its full respray about a decade ago, but the darker finish was really starting to show some swirls from all of the covering, uncovering, cleaning, showing, and other use since then. It had even required a followup trip to the bodyshop a few years after the repaint to get a fender sprayed again, as it had been bumped and the paint was damaged beyond repair. PPF likely would have prevented that trip, had the car been wearing it at the time.

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It wouldn’t make sense to have the film applied over the swirls though, so prior to any of it being installed the entire body was paint-corrected and brought back to just-out-of-the-booth levels of gloss.

TBird PPF 1

As for the templating, unsurprisingly there were no computer files for a 1967 Thunderbird sedan so the entire wrap ended up being done by hand with custom templates made using this exact car. In the end every inch of painted bodywork was covered from nose to tail and the car was looking as good as, if not better than, it ever had.

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Following the Bird’s visit it was the 240’s turn next, but it instead went off to Personal Touch for its correction and wrap. The convertible had picked up its fair share of paint swirls over the years too, though it already had a lot of them when my mother originally picked it up, but its real paint issue was wear spot on the driver’s side rocker panel. A such, not only was the entire car paint corrected but the spot on the rocker was resprayed and blended in as carefully as possible before any film went on. A similar touch-up was carried out on the underside of the front bumper, which appeared to have bumped a couple of parking blocks or similar over the years.

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Once again the wrap had to be a custom job but the coverage went beyond just the red paint as even the mirror caps were covered. Unless you know where to look and what to look for, you’d have a hard time telling either car was wrapped.

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You may be wondering why two cars whose lives consist solely of either attending events or being parked in storage require PPF, but there are benefits to the film for all vehicles and not just daily drivers. Any contact with paint has the chance to cause swirls and other marks (that includes washing), and you’d be amazed at how many people attending car shows don’t respect the rule of “don’t touch what’s not yours”. Excluding genuine accidents like bumping a vehicle while walking by, it’s not hard to find someone leaning on a car, sitting on it, resting rings and watches on the paint, and so on. Outside of show settings even something like putting a car cover on can result in marks, as despite best efforts sometimes a bit of dirt or debris finds its way underneath and gets trapped.

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Additionally neither of these cars gets trailered anywhere so regardless of it being an event in town or one hours away, if the car is present it’s because it was driven there; and you never know what may be flung up from passing vehicles on the highway or other roads.

Should something ever happen though, the last detail worth noting is that there are different kinds of PPF and both the Thunderbird and 240 received self-healing film specifically, so any small scratches or swirls that the film may pick up can simply be removed with the application of heat; a hairdryer or heat gun for example will serve to mend any light damage, giving about as close as possible to a care-free finish. It’s not an excuse to sit on the paint, but there’s no reason these two shouldn’t still look as good as they do now, for years to come.

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Closing it out with a bonus shot of Gizmo, just because.


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