Hey, you lucky if you have a '53 or later rigid Thunderbird because you actually have two colors that are correct. Thunderbirds starting in 1951 were painted a medium/light metallic blue (polychromatic blue), but starting in 1953 there was an option for black (the so called 'Blackbirds'). If you go with blue then just about everything should be blue (sheetmetal, nacelle, frame, etc.), with the exception of a few black items, such as the front and rear numberplate. If you choose black, then that is easy, because everything is black!
Here is a picture of a 1951 that was painted black. Not exactly the same as a '53 (different nacelle and taillight), but gives you the general idea.
thanks for the info, good to hear its black. heres the bike im geting, in spite of the badge does the tank look original? is that rear fender too short? <a href="http://img387.imageshack.us/my.php?image=trump3vf.jpg" target="_blank"><
#82324 - 08/21/053:18 pmRe: 1953 thunderbird color
Joined: May 2004 Posts: 181zgears
BritBike Forum member
zgears, I am also trying to find out what is the exact color combination of the 53 T Bird. Several books say several things. Most everyone I have seen in a photo is painted black. It dosen't appear many were made is Polychromaic Blue, or most everyone restored them in black. I am getting a copy of an original piece of colored litature from a friend and hope that sheds some more light on the subject. So far I believe that everything is painted blue except for the from brake plate, which is aluminum. Some one out there has to have an original photo of this bike in blue, or has done the research already.
#82326 - 09/24/071:36 pmRe: 1953 thunderbird color
You probably dont want the 52 color - just finished [img]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p222/terry9_photo/DSC00009.j[IMG]http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p222/terry9_photo/DSC00009.jpg[/img]pg[/IMG]
Thanks for the super photos of some super bikes, however I need the 1953. According to the books and other items (photos)I have found the 1950-1952 had some black painted on the stays, etc. The 1953 seems to have all blue (polychromatic)including stays, etc. I try to made these bikes as close to original as possible, then I ride them.
#82331 - 09/24/078:42 pmRe: 1953 thunderbird color
That blue looks alittle light to me. I had a 51 T-bird with some original paint under the tank and it was a bit darker. Could be the color in my computer though. If you do the all blue any dirt or oil will stand out like a whore in church. I cheated on mine and did the cycle parts and nacelle in black and did the rest of the sheet metal in blue like the late swing arm models. Later I did a speed twin in all red and hated it. Original is nice but you still have to like it......
#82332 - 09/24/0711:53 pmRe: 1953 thunderbird color
Aloniw - thanks for the complement. My camera and computer don't do the color justice. I'll probably bring it to Corvallis next year along with a 48 T100 I'm just finishing and you can see it in person.
I am also restoring a 1953 Thunderbird, and have researched the colors. The color Polychromatic blue seems to be on all surfaces except the license plate bracket (black) and the front brake anchor (aluminum). The rims are chrome with no painted ring. I have an original piece of colored literature and this looks to be the case. However the literature does look like an artist conception. I also have a DVD from the 60's showing a 1951 riding around and the color seem to be the same. You can e mail me if you have any questions, I have been researching this for awhile and I am satisfied with the answer.
#82338 - 10/22/076:44 pmRe: 1953 thunderbird color
Joined: Oct 2003 Posts: 3,524dave jones
BritBike Forum member
Originally posted by dave jones: The rigid framed Thunderbird is one of my favourite bikes- a real beauty! dave
You know, if Marlon Brando's motorsickle hadn't been so beautiful then I wouldn't be riding anything let alone Triumphs today. The 6T looked just the perfect vehicle for the nascent teenage misfit ..., a lean, sinewy, raw bike much like we all were way back when .... Lee Marvin's Harley looked like an armchair in comparison
Hi Just picked up on this thread seven years on... I have had three 53's or what I call a 53. That is a alternator 650 twin with rigid frame and MK II sprung hub and and that SU carburetter[ the back frame tube had a forged hole in it for carb air filter rubber]. I also had odd engine brackets and parts, plus earlier 6Ts to compare with. The Polychromatic blue on the 51 -52 models was a med metallic blue shade, whereas the 53 had a cast towards a teal hue that made it richer and darker. So the blue was hovering on changing color. One of the covers on the British Motorcycle mags at the time had an illustrators rendition of it in a solid color and it reflects that blue/teal hue. All three of mine had the same color. It is not quite the same as that industrial met blue that was in vogue at the time. When I took the frame in to be stripped the guy said he bought one NEW in 1954 and it was all painted ..NO CHROME. especially on the exhaust pipes. Post war supply conditions in UK.[ this was a general export model to NZ, we always get the leavings here] Other bikes came in the same like smaller James models with painted rims... no chrome. I have another 6T with the pattern stamped 49 oil tank. On the back where the 49 stamp is, the original paint is a solid grey blue , but that is a project ongoing.
Doing some research on Brando's bike. It seems like a 51 model [ with louvred nacelle bottoms] as the novel the movie was based upon was printed in 1951. The film came out in 53. For 53 USA America requested a black model not blue . The 53 has a park light replacing the lower nacelle grill louvres. The bike in the movie footage does not look black but other posters in colors depict it as jet black. Do not be fooled by 'The Wild One Revisited' clips with look alikes of Brando.
Years ago, while a tending the AMA's Mid-Ohio meet, I stumbled upon Jaye Strait while he was getting an original one to run properly. The bike's wheels had "Thunder Blue" rim centers. Jaye informed me that all "Blackbirds" were like this: he had seen, and/or worked on, several of them over the years.
The factory built all front and rear wheels well ahead of time. Rims for T-Birds were painted even further ahead. The wheels were built, stocked, and pulled from stock "as needed." As a result, U.S. Blackbirds just got what ALL T-Birds got: wheels with "Thunder Blue" rim centers.
Triumph wheel rims had painted centers until 1956, so '55 T-Birds with swing arm suspension would have had them.
Small parking lights in the nacelles were used 1952 through 1955. The "horn grille" began use in 1956, when the parking light was first incorporated into the headlight itself.
Finally: The rigid-frame T-Bird with the Rodark panniers shown above, is painted a color blue which I have never seen on any original Triumph or old Triumph part. I do not believe it to be a true Triumph color. It appears closer to the "Wedgewood Blus" used on some 1953 Ariels.
I have an original Triumph tank from around 53.... in a deep metallic blue.... Also the oil tank.... I don't know if these are fully original colours. It has the banded motif and screw on chrome Triumph badges, with red lettering centres. I'll try and take some pix if it interests you.....seems to be more like a metallic version of 1966 Pacific blue, a bit lighter. But I can't swear it's not a repaint. I have seen a sprung hub original Triumph from around 51-52 also that was a medium-graeyish blue. I know it was orginal... let me know
Thunderbirds built in 1950 had a blue-grey solid (non-metallic) color, the original "Thunder Blue." I have a couple of NOS original parts in that color, and it is NOT an attractive color. It was a rather "dead-looking" color, so Triumph changed to a " poly-chromatic Thunder Blue," maybe in 1951, but in '52 for certain. It was a brighter, more attractive color, definitely a metallic blue.
This color was used up to and including 1955. In 1956, the T-Birds sold in the U.K. were "Crystal Grey Metallic,' in other words, metallic silver. Then in 1957, the USA got AZTEC RED, U.K. (and others?) got GOLD.