Bite the Bullet – Joni Nurmio’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird – Photography by Jesse Kallinen

Cars usually look like their enthustiastic owners – and Joni is definitely not an exception, but more of a positive example here. Joni is known for his creative side, and being a painter, what could have been a sweeter combination than a car with a unique patina that’s taken years to form, companied with a freshly painted lowrider-esque roof, painted by the man himself.

Joni’s 1963 Thunderbird was sold new in Seattle, Washington and it found its way 4800 miles East in 1989, all the way to Finland. Fast forward to 2018, and Joni shook hands with the previous owner, only 15 minutes away from his home at the coastal town Parainen. Joni had ideas about owning an American car that would have personality and style, to which the bullet bird fits more than well. Its iconic, retrofuturistic style was something that made an impact from the start. The car was pretty much standard, but quite soon Joni found himself cutting away a few extra laps of the springs and adding blocks to the rear, for getting the car sit a bit more correct. This was a must do cheap task and proper custom suspension work had to wait.

Being a creative mind and having the ability to paint cars, Joni had an idea of adding a lowrider style paint scheme to one of his cars. By improving his skills in a couple school projects, he was ready to use the knowledge and touch on one of his own. By first gathering the necessities, such as 3M 233+ tapes from States, paint from his employer and candy from Createx, the well-waited work was finally able to start. 100 hours, 13 rolls of tape and four litres of clear coat later, the roof and the rear deck changed from zero to stunning. When the sun hits the surfaces of the car, it creates a vivid rhythm from the worn satin paint transforming into a deep, layered and sparkling ensemble. The styling of the car is special to start with, and now the paintjob does even more to command attention. But somehow the attention grabbing roof is just the thing this car needed.

After getting the paint on point, the T-Bird needed the rest. Here came 14×7 Supreme 48’s with 185/75/14 tires with thin white walls. For getting the ride height just right, Joni finally got the car bagged, situated just right with air ride suspension. The install was quite straight forward and by fabricating the rear brackets for the bags and a frame for the compressors and air tanks, the setup was done, neatly installed in the trunk. The front received a bag-over-coil setup and the management is operated by the controller or by phone. Now the stance matched the rest, and the car was able to be enjoyed as a stress free cruiser what it is best at.

When you see the car live, it is hard to walk away from it. The subtle changes are there and also the complete opposite, but oh so beautiful paintjob capturing your 100% attention. It gives you a feeling of seeing something very unique, but something with a lot of familiar elements that make a car cool and special. But in Joni’s ride, all the elements are tied together in a balance for creating something worth your time. The whole project has been a work of perseverance and determination, paired with the ability to know when to stop at the right time. It wouldn’t be the same with a full patina, or with a full respray. This is where Joni’s vision counts, and we will just see where he will take the Thunderbird next.


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