35k Mile 460-Powered 1974 Ford Thunderbird Coupe

By 1974 the Thunderbird was in its sixth generation of production and had no resemblance to the original 1955 version. In fact, this Thunderbird model was the largest ever produced and shared a striking resemblance to its cousin the Lincoln Continental Mark IV. This car has low mileage, long term ownership and just came out of long term storage. Check it out here on craigslist in Morristown NJ for $7800. Thanks to Barn Finds Reader Ikey Heyman for the tip!


From this angle, we get a good idea of the sheer size of the Thunderbird. This thing has nice lines and will no doubt float down the road. The car is said to have long term ownership and just came out of storage. It is not said how long the car was put away but with 35K miles on the odometer it hasn’t been on the road much. Running condition is not mentioned, the car is equipped with A/C and has no rust. Just by the looks of things I would expect some work needs to be done before returning to the road.

Some of the pictures show the car in the garage covered in dust while others were taken outside after a wash. From this angle, the paint looks like it will clean up nicely and no rust can be seen. Interestingly a search of the web shows that Bennett Auto Group is still in business in Allentown although they do not sell Fords. In ’74 government mandates were affecting cars, here we see a glimpse of the 5mph impact bumper. The engine was also affected by government control, in ’74 the 460 replaced the 429 but performance was not outstanding. The 460 only produced 220 HP due to low compression and emission controls. Fuel mileage was dismal at around 10MPG average.

The interior looks as good as the exterior. Judging by the wear on the seats, the mileage claim of 35K is probably accurate. The market for this car may be limited but if the mileage is correct and mechanically everything is sound this could be a good investment for the price. I’m interested to see where this car will end up, possibly overseas where big American luxury cars are gaining popularity.






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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Scott, I can’t thank you enough for using the word “affected”, instead of the grossly overused “impacted”. “Impacted” is for wisdom teeth. Don’t get me started on “impactful”…. I hope the world gets back to normal soon.

    Oh, and nice T-Bird.

    Like 10
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Period-correct colors. Good condition. Representative of an automotive era long past. As you said Scott, it would be perfect to use to “float down the road” to the local cruise-in.

    Like 5
  3. Dave

    “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin’ the scene with a gangster lean…gangster whitewalls, CB antennas in the back…”

    Like 6
  4. Ralph

    $7800 is extremely optimistic, these are really undesirable, even really clean ones have 0 interest.

    $2800 maybe.

    Like 4
    • Mike

      Ralph, I was just getting ready to comment that about $3000 tops is about what this not very desirable car should bring. I like your figure of $2800 better! We are seeing so many cars on this site recently that are considered “special” just because they have been stored instead of crushed, or low mileage. And I am so tired of seeing those black Regals and mid to late seventies Firebirds.

      Like 3
      • TimS Member

        You said it, Mike! More Chevelles and first-gen Camaros and Mustangs, preferably red! That’s what a Real Car Guy wants! None of this uncommon stuff that Barrett-Jackson ignores. Gimme the Greatest Hits, dude!

  5. TJ

    My first car was a 1973 bird and it left me standing on a corner in Winslo Arizona. Busted timing chain. That car did float down the road. Good times in the back seat of that thing too.

    Like 1
    • Dave

      Ok…you were standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and did a girl, driving a flatbed Ford slow down to take a look at you?

      Like 7
      • TJ

        Nope…. that didn’t happen. Wish it had. Year was 1983.

        Like 2
    • Petey Wheatstraw

      What happened in the back seat?

      Like 1
  6. Ben Leighton

    Had one almost like it. The only difference is that mine had a white top and white leather interior and panel moon roof. The 2 something gears made it slow.

    Like 1
  7. Lance

    This was built during the time when Ford was starting to get off the rails. EVERYstinkin car they made was getting huge. True there was Pinto and Mustang but these boats were largely what people did not want. Look at how VW, Honda and Toyota took advantage of consumer demand listened,and basically took over the US car market. Ford didn’t get it. GM didn’t get it and Mopar didn’t get it. Metal monument to stupidity. No thanks.

    Like 4
    • Bhowe Member

      While the conditions you state did come about at the time frame or pace you mentioned. During this period the American manufacturers VASTLY outsold the imports. The problems arise more in the mid 80s when Detroit big 3 management didn’t respond to changing vehicular taste quickly enough. First attraction was fuel economy in the 70s, then around 80 due to high interest rates and inflation, people were pushed to imports because of price. Build quality was better too but material quality of things like steel, fabric, plastics were very much inferior with the imports. They soon remedied that by the mid to late 80s, then took the lead in styling and design bringing us to current day. Detroit was always fighting last years battle, eventually finding themselves woefully behind. Note this hasn’t happened with pickups as the american brands are still superior to the imports in almost all measurable respects.

      Like 4
  8. JoeNYWF64

    After marvelling at the smooth ride on very rough roads in a ’73 torino, i would think this bird & the continental are the champs & all 3 of the latter put modern luxury “cars” to shame on absorbing bumps on rough roads.
    Were these birds fitted with sequential tailights? tach avail?
    What was last yr 1 could get a manual trans in a bird? ’57?
    I’m guessing either the door on this bird,Canon’s car, etc. – or the 2nd gen firebird/camaro door is longest ever made?
    By ’74 i’m guessing a vinyl roof was std equip on birds.

    • Anav8r

      I had a 1959 Thunderbird, back in the early 60s. I worked for a Ford dealer, and one of the parts department guys said he knew where there was a mast jacket and such if I decided I wanted a stickshift (3 on the tree) T-bird. I didn’t question him, and Uncle Sam required my presence before I decided. I’d really like to know how many T-bird model years were actually available with a factory manual transmission.

  9. Dave Mathers

    In 1969 Ford retarded the timing on the 460 to meet emission requirements. They did it by simply replacing the camshaft drive gear. To get a BUNCH more power simply replace that gear. I did it to my brand new 76 C-class motorhome with the result that I got better performance AND gas mileage!!

    Like 4
  10. MarveH

    If I would ever electrify a car something like this would be it. I hate when people put electric motors in sports cars.
    These cars have the same MO as electrics; both are all about torque, both run silent, both are about distancing the driver from the drive, and both are heavy. It would also be fun to charge up at a station next to a brace of Teslas.

    Like 1
  11. oldsoldie

    Fords of this era have a “tell”…… When the front wheels are heading due north and the steering wheel is pointed towards China the front end is worn out. I doubt that’s gonna happen in 35k miles unless someone was out 4 wheelin. The 460 will run forever if you can afford to feed it, so it may make someone a nice cruiser once the ball joints and tie rod ends are replaced, but not worth anywhere near the ask.

    Like 2
  12. W9BAG

    I had a ’76 that I bought from the original owner with just over 51K miles. I just loved that car, but as mentioned, the 460 was a real pooch and got dismal fuel economy. With a perfect engine tune, perfect alignment, tire pressure, etc, I could only squeeze about 13 MPG out of her. A Pinto with a 2.3 and a 4 speed would have shot ahead at a green light. Fortunately, it held 27 1/2 gallons of fuel.
    1 odd option that I didn’t know was available in ’76: ABS. 4 wheel disc brakes & ABS. Hydraulic assist on the brakes (not vacuum). It would stop on a dime. A delightful driving car, as long as you were going in a straight line.

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      13 mpg aint bad considering the weight & size of the thing! – 455s in lighter firebirds & 454s in midsize gm cars i’m sure did’t get much better mpg & there were some multiple carb cars in the 60s that were in the single digits. Mpg of 426 hemi with two 4 bbls? forget it. lol
      The pellet cat conv of the mid ’70s did not help.
      Perhaps fitting a quadrajet with smaller primaries & a gentle right foot could get a few more mpg. Some early ’70s torinos had them from the factory, i believe.
      As for 1976 ABS, good luck if it still works & findin parts for it. lol
      I wonder if any electronics were involved.

  13. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    On my personal list of T-Bird generations, this one would easily rank last. Too big and too boring. I do like the tail light panel though. This one looks clean if it’s your thing.

    Like 1
  14. Car Guy Beancounter

    Beautiful car, ‘cept for that hideous front bumper. This was the industry’s first awkward attempts to meet the guv’ments 5 MPH standard, beginning in 1973 model year. Interesting comment about this car possibly ending up overseas. A few years ago I sold my #2 condition ’49 Dodge Coronet through a consignment house. The car was sold to a buyer in South Korea. Good experience with this consignment house, as I got my price and no haggles!

    Like 1
  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I think that the ’76 we saw here a couple of weeks ago was a much nicer car for a little more money.

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