- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2000

Logic would dictate that if a man were to get his wife a pink car it would be presented on Valentine's Day.

But Ron Dawson couldn't wait so the pink Thunderbird was delivered the day before Thanksgiving. His wife, Bird Dawson, was so appreciative and benevolent that she credited the car as her Christmas present.

The paths of the principals in this drama first crossed four years ago when Mrs. Dawson's dentist sent her to an endodontist for a root canal. Her husband accompanied her to offer moral support as well as to perform chauffeuring duties.

On the doctor's office wall was a framed photograph of a pink 1963 Thunderbird. With Mrs. Dawson's mouth filled with dental instruments, the men discussed the attributes of the car and Mr. Dawson learned that the physician was the owner.

Last summer Mrs. Dawson's car was hit by a truck. After looking at the new-car selection she and her husband decided on a new to her old car. She would feel safer with more iron around her than new little cars could offer. Mr. Dawson recalled the pink T-bird from four years earlier.

A quick telephone call to the endodontist proved to be fortuitous. He was about to sell the vehicle, so Mr. Dawson said, "Sold."

Mrs. Dawson had once owned another 1963 Thunderbird that was well-worn. This new old T-bird had been driven only 64,000 miles when she got it the day before Thanksgiving.

With her auburn tresses bouncing with life at each step, she strode to the Thunderbird her husband had brought home. "I am so excited about my car," she exudes.

She quickly applied to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a personalized license plate, using her nickname and was assigned plates reading: "BIRDS 63".

While not officially pink Ford calls the color Sahara Rose it's close enough for Mrs. Dawson. "It looks like a Hostess cupcake," she says metaphorically.

Researching the T-bird's past indicates that Mrs. Dawson is the third owner. The car was a special order for the original owner in Arlington, Donna Powell.

Mrs. Dawson never met Mrs. Powell, but she knows they must be kindred spirits because the car is equipped as if she had ordered it herself.

"It's a girl car," she said.

The 4,195-pound Thunderbird was ordered with:

* Front and rear floor mats.

* License plate frames.

* Deluxe wheel covers.

* Windshield washers.

* Factory seat belts.

* Power steering.

* Power brakes.

* Fender skirts.

* AM radio.

* Heater.

Inexplicably, the personal luxury car was delivered without power windows, no air conditioning and not a trace of tinting in any of the eight windows. Fresh air is drawn into the car via the 75 slots on the cowl.

"I always wear sunglasses when driving that car," Mrs. Dawson said.

Besides taking the unusual step of ordering clear windows the original owner also purchased an attractive, highly different light rose beige interior. The inserts in the bucket seats feature crinkle vinyl that was offered only in 1963.

A total of 42,806 Thunderbirds like Mrs. Dawson's were manufactured. Each one rode on a 113-inch wheelbase and had a 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine under the expansive hood with a functional air scoop. The base price when new was $4,445, or about $15 for each "horse" of the 300-horsepower engine.

Her Thunderbird recently passed its 37th birthday. It was built on Feb. 6, 1963.

Mrs. Dawson has always been fond of the third-generation Thunderbird, built in 1961, 1962 and 1963. The design of the pointed front fenders and small canted fins accented by a car-long strip of stainless steel appeals to her sense of style. If the rest of the Thunderbird doesn't arrest your attention the huge round taillights will.

The Swing-Away steering wheel offers the driver a welcome assist in entering or exiting the car. After placing the automatic transmission in Park, the three-spoke steering wheel can be shifted to the right 10 inches.

Even though the T-bird is an inch longer than 17 feet and 6 1/3 feet wide, Mrs. Dawson finds it easy to park with the assistance of power steering turning the 8.00x14-inch tires. "I parallel park that puppy in Old Town Alexandria all the time," she said confidently.

The flashy Thunderbird delivers about 16 mpg on the highway and has a 20-gallon gasoline tank.

"I don't do gas," Mrs. Dawson proclaims, relying on her husband to handle that chore.

She is concentrating on acquiring a new wardrobe to accentuate the Sahara Rose T-bird. Already she has discovered a nail color to match her car.

Mrs. Dawson said it's great having a car you want to take care of. What's even better, she explains, is having a husband who is even more fastidious about the car.

"He's my live-in mechanic. When the car gets wet I wipe it down," she said, "but I know he's right behind me with five clean, dry towels."

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