Classic T-Birds flock to Clear Lake for contest

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thunderbirdCLEAR LAKE, TX- People love classic cars of all types, but there’s just something special about a vintage T-Bird.

“A 55, 56 or 57 Thunderbird looks like a vehicle in a tuxedo,” says Jim McNew, a judge at this weekend’s vintage Thunderbird convention in Clear Lake.

Ray Spreen of Bellaire runs the Vintage Thunderbirds of Houston Club. He bought his ’66 convertible Thunderbird about 5 1/2 years ago and keeps it on the road.

“I didn’t buy this thing to be a trailer queen,” says Spreen, “I drove it down here…I try and use it every weekend because if you leave these car sitting, the seals start to dry out, so you have to keep the fluids fresh.”

Ray’s car will be on display Saturday for the public after judges choose winners among more than 60 T-Birds from all over the country and even a couple from Canada.

Included in the competition: a black convertible ’56 Little Bird. 1956 was the second year for the T-Bird and introduced the cool porthole window.

Another rarity on site will be a “Square Bird” (produced between 1958 and ’60) with a metal sunroof. Very few of these have survived.

But it’s not all golden oldies.  The Retro Thunderbirds from 2002 to 2005 were the last ones produced. Rodney Wake, president of the Vintage Thunderbird Club International, drove his down to Clear Lake but his T-Bird love affair goes back decades. “I worked in a Ford dealership in 1955 when they were brand new, and I sort of got the bug back then. But the first time I could afford one was the ’61 Thunderbird convertible which I bought. We drove it for several years and sold it. I missed it so bad, that I bought another one, and we still own that one.”

All these cars and more will be on display for the public to peruse at noon Saturday in Clear Lake near NASA. Just head down the street to the hotel parking lot at 3000 NASA Rd. 1.

If you’re a car buff or just like cool stuff, stop by. As long-time T-Bird fan Wake says, “There’s just something about ’em that takes you back to the happy days.”