The 1961 Ford Thunderbird was the first of the third generation of T-birds, affectionately known as the "Bullet Birds" or "Project Birds." This generation was decidedly sleeker than its predecessors, and had a smoother ride and better cornering as well.
The grille was lower and more subtle, while both head- and tail-lights were round. The interior was equally smooth, with a curved dash. It also featured a "swing-away" steering wheel, which would swing to the side to allow easier entrance and exit.
While the look of the car was seemingly following the US's space-obsessed rocket ship era, the engine went in the other direction, dropping in power; the only available engine was a 6.4-liter, 390-ci V8 rated at 300 horsepower, down from the optional 350 horses in the Lincoln engine the prior year.