Old School Americana & Nostalgia


All About ‘Thelma & Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird Getaway Car

All About ‘Thelma & Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird Getaway Car

Thelma & Louise features two women heroes who go on a road trip adventure, making their classic convertible an iconic film car. The 1991 film by Ridley Scott has achieved legendary status not just for the exceptional acting of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, but also for its memorable vehicle, the 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

In Thelma & Louise, two women escape from the authorities in a classic car after one of them shoots a man who was attacking the other outside a bar. This leads them on a cross-country trip avoiding pursuing police and exes. Throughout their journey, the 1966 Ford Thunderbird serves as the film’s third lead.

Most iconic film cars become favorites due to crazy chases or slick looks. However, the car of Thelma & Louise became memorable for being part of one of the most unforgettable endings in all of cinema history. Thelma and Louise face a crucial choice at the Grand Canyon – defying the pursuing police instead of surrendering. Spoilers ahead… Ultimately, with no way out, Thelma urges them to “keep going” moments before their Thunderbird races off the cliff.

Why a 1966 Ford Thunderbird was Picked as the Car in ‘Thelma & Louise’

While the car from Thelma & Louise became iconic, filmmakers picked the Thunderbird for a practical reason. The car was chosen mainly for the movie because convertibles make it easier to capture actors on camera, hence their frequent appearance in television and film productions. According to Fraser Engine Company, the Thunderbird wasn’t altered for production. The filmmakers decided to keep it the same as it would be on the showroom floor.

Five identical cars were utilized during filming: the “hero car,” a camera vehicle, a backup car, and two stunt cars. The full-featured T-Bird spanned 17 feet in length, 6 ½ feet in width, and weighed 4,700 lbs. Equipped with a 345 horsepower 428 cu. in. V8 engine, an automatic transmission, dual exhausts with resonators, and a turquoise paint job that often appeared bluer, this model boasted a sleek white leather interior and showcased Ford’s innovative “swing away” steering wheel.

During the chaotic movie shoot, a standout moment is the “Off The Cliff” shot. Surprisingly, this famous flying car scene was nailed on the second take. The production team had limited Thunderbirds, two shell-stunt cars, and one backward-driving car. After hours of setup, the first launch went awry. With some adjustments, the next day’s launch was a success. The final scene was captured in just 45 minutes. The “star” car eventually sold for $71,000 at auction for Barrett-Jackson.