NEW! Award 121: 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition – $50,000

by | Dec 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday, NEW Award

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January 13, 2024, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “ClassiFIND” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Some car enthusiasts are so out of touch with reality that it boggles the mind.  The seller of this 17,956 original mile 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition for sale, last spotted on Craigslist in Collinsville, Oklahoma (Tulsa), is out of touch on three fronts.

First is their definition of “Showroom Condition.” By most Concours and Antique Automobile Club of America (“AACA”) standards, that means the car is presented in its original state as someone would have seen it in the showroom when new.  Not only did the seller detail their Thunderbird’s engine bay to a better-than-new state, but they also added a modern dash-mounted aftermarket screen of some sort along with cell phone and cup holders.  The single chrome exhaust extension and rearview mirror-mounted fuzzy dice look out of place on the Malaise Era classic.  If you’re going to present your car as a low-mileage restored classic, then remove everything that did not come equipped originally on the car.

Next, the seller reports their T-Bird won the Darryl Starbird show five years in a row. If you’re not familiar with these shows, famed customizer Darryle Starbird and his family have organized a number of rod and custom shows across the country.  One of these shows is held annually in Tulsa.  Go to their website, and you’ll see custom award winners that could likely compete in the famed Riddler show held in California. We’d love to know more about what this “proven award winner” actually won at that lone event.  Despite its exceptionally low miles, in its current over-restored and modified state, this Thunderbird would only be eligible for, at best, a Driver Participation Class (“DPC”) badge in an AACA-judged event.  I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to assume the local Thunderbird Club members would treat the car the same way.

Third is the non-rarity of this special edition. Of the 352,751 Thunderbirds produced in 1978, 18,994 (five percent!) left the factory as Heritage Editions meant to celebrate Ford’s 75th anniversary. Despite its fully-equipped $12,000 price ($57,352 in 2023 dollars), nearly double the cost of a standard Thunderbird that year, these are not rare cars. Low mileage examples in much more original condition are offered for sale regularly, as the Classic.com graph below confirms.

Finally, is the seller’s asking price. Last offered $50,000, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is over $36,000 higher than the average transaction price for other 1978 Ford Thunderbirds sold in the past twelve months.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask lands over $30,000 higher than this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $15,600 before making a five percent adjustment for the optional 400 cubic inch V8. A third data point is the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool. This often-optimistic pricing source confirms the seller’s ask is thirty grand higher than this guide’s #1 “Concours” appraisal of only $19,300. Still not convinced? the downloadable 2023 Old Cars Price Guide Big Book confirms the seller’s ask lands well above this guide’s #1 “Excellent” estimate of only $17,860.

With four syndicated classic car pricing sources collaborating with a value under twenty thousand dollars, we have no choice but to give this seller our latest “NEW!” (short for “No Effin Way!”) Award for pricing their Thunderbird completely oblivious to the current market realities.

The 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition represents American automotive luxury and innovation during the late 1970s. Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Ford Motor Company, this limited edition Thunderbird boasts a unique blend of distinctive design elements, opulent features, and advanced technology.

The Diamond Jubilee Edition of the 1978 Thunderbird features an exclusive two-tone paint scheme, typically finished in Diamond Blue and Diamond Blue Glow or Raven Black and Raven Black Glow. This unique finish is accompanied by a matching Landau vinyl roof, providing a touch of elegance to the exterior. The car’s overall design maintains the long hood, and short-deck proportions characteristic of the Thunderbird line, while the prominent opera windows, a hallmark of luxury coupes in the late ’70s, add a distinctive touch to the profile.

Chrome accents, including a special edition grille, contribute to the car’s upscale appearance, while the Diamond Jubilee Edition badging highlights its commemorative significance. The distinctive turbine-style aluminum wheels, finished in a matching color scheme, complete the exterior ensemble, emphasizing both luxury and exclusivity.

The interior of the 1978 Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition is a testament to Ford’s commitment to providing a luxurious driving experience. The cabin features exclusive Deep Blue Luxury cloth or optional Chamois cloth and Deep Blue leather upholstery, adding a touch of sophistication. The plush, deeply contoured seats offer both comfort and support, emphasizing the Thunderbird’s grand touring capabilities.

The dashboard design is tailored to the Diamond Jubilee Edition, featuring a unique engine-turned instrument panel, wood-grain trim, and a deluxe three-spoke steering wheel. A full range of power accessories, including power windows, power door locks, and power seats, further enhance the convenience and luxury of the interior. The car also comes equipped with air conditioning, a premium sound system, and a Cartier-branded clock, underscoring this special edition’s attention to detail and quality.

Powering the 1978 Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition is a 5.8-liter (351 cubic inches) V8 engine. This engine, mated to an automatic transmission, provides a balance of power and smoothness suitable for a luxury coupe. While the emphasis is on delivering a comfortable and refined driving experience, the Thunderbird remains capable of spirited acceleration when needed. A desirable option , which this example features, is the 400 cubic inch V8.

The suspension system is tuned for a smooth ride, and power steering enhances maneuverability, contributing to the car’s grand touring capabilities. Front disc brakes provide ample stopping power, ensuring a sense of control and safety on the road.

As a testament to Ford’s commitment to innovation, the 1978 Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition incorporates advanced technology for its time. Electronic instrumentation, including a digital clock and a trip computer, adds a modern touch to the cockpit. The trip computer provides information such as fuel economy, distance to empty, and elapsed driving time, showcasing Ford’s forward-thinking approach to automotive technology.

The 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition holds a special place in automotive history as a limited-edition model that celebrated Ford’s 75 years of automotive excellence. Its unique design elements, luxurious features, and incorporation of advanced technology for its time make it a sought-after classic car among enthusiasts and collectors, serving as a timeless reminder of the luxury and innovation that defined American automobiles in the late 1970s.

The Ed’s Auto Review Youtube Channel provides a light-hearted look back on Ford’s 1978 Thunderbird Diamon Jubilee Edition:

This 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamon Jubilee Edition is a low-mileage, well-detailed example that likely will not disappoint when seen in person. However, with so many similar examples regularly offered for sale, anyone in the market for one of these not-so-rare editions should wait for either the seller to come down to reality or another one to come to market.

If you are serious about buying this Thunderbird at the seller’s asking price, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Jubilee Edition featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“This is Ford’s 75th-anniversary car. It is one of 18,994 production models. It has won the Daryll Starbird Show 5 years in a row. This is the Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition. This was the most luxurious luxury car you could own in 1978. If you could afford it. This car has been restored to showroom condition and has won a room full of trophies and awards. The car has only had three owners; I’m the third. Email me with any questions you may have. There is nothing wrong with this Classic Show Car.”

Yay or Nay: Do you agree with our assessment of this 1978 Ford Thunderbird Diamond Jubilee Edition for sale? Please comment below and let us know!

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