While the Ford Motor Company never released a convertible 1979 Thunderbird, someone over at American Custom Coachworks thought it would be a good idea, so they created 1,000 of these bespoke vehicles. Fast-forward to the present day and many of them have been left to rust, sold for parts, or dumped in junkyards all across America. But one lucky convertible was given a second lease on life and reincarnated as a lowrider.

Rudy Paredes was the man behind the build, and it all started with dreams of creating something new for the 2007 Lowrider Super Show. Since its successful debut, the car has served its purpose, but now its legacy is in the hands of yet another owner—but we’ll get back to that in a minute after we talk about how it was created.

During the build, Rudy wanted a paintjob that would pop, so he had the land yacht doused with a burgundy basecoat and then layered with a multitude of color combinations using shades of pink, magenta, teal, and purple. Once complete, a few minor touches helped make a major difference and those subtle accents came by way of gold leafing and fingerprint patterns.

The whole inspiration for this build was deciding to keep that classic ’70s vibe, so with the paint complete it was time to address the interior. Since it was a drop-top the interior became an open-air extravaganza that had to be as impressive as the exterior, so he had the seats wrapped in burgundy suede with biscuit tuck patterns and pink piping. Additional highlights include a custom steering wheel as well as a handmade color bar tucked beneath the glovebox.

As with many of our builds, we’ll know right after completion whether or not it’s a keeper, and for Rudy, he knew it was a keeper on a lease. You see, a random conversation with his nephew Chetes became one of those life-changing conversations. During that chat, Chetes inquired about the possibility of maybe one day owning the Thunderbird and Rudy in turn said, “If you graduate high school you can have it.”

Fast-forward to 2017, Chetes graduated high school and Rudy honored his word and handed him the keys. Whereas Rudy was the one-time pilot of this lengthy land yacht, he’s now being picked up by his nephew and rides shotgun, but it’s got to be a great feeling knowing that they both made an agreement and they both pulled through, and in turn he taught his nephew the principles of hard work and the importance of keeping your word.

1979 Ford Thunderbird Convertible


Car Club

Hawthorne, CA

Original 1979 5.0 302c with chrome and painted accents

Custom seats covered in burgundy suede with pink piping featuring biscuit tuck patterns and a custom color bar

Burgundy base with a multitude of graphic overlays featuring pinks, magentas, teals, and various pinstriping outlines

Complete chrome undercarriage activated by a chrome two-pump setup with six batteries and two switches

Original 14-inch Dayton wire wheels with 5.20 Coker tires