428 Powered: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

While Ford’s goal with the Thunderbird was to produce what it termed a personal luxury car, clever buyers could squeeze impressive performance out of their new toy for minimal outlay if the mood took them. That is the path that the original owner of this 1966 T-Bird followed, and while it would never have been classed as a firebreathing muscle car, it would have been a great all-rounder. It has been in dry storage since 1998, but it could make a fantastic restoration project for the right person. It is located in Moscow, Idaho, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Subdued bidding has seen the price crawl to $2,600 in a No Reserve auction. There’s still time left on the listing if you want to tackle this classic.

In its prime, this Nightmist Blue Thunderbird would’ve been an eye-catching car. Those days are a long way behind it, but I can’t see any reason why it has to remain this way. The story behind it isn’t clear, but I would be willing to wager that the damage that we see on the front fender and air dam may have been part of the previous owner’s motivation for parking the car all those years ago. They may have had grand plans to return the car to its former glory, but the work ground to a halt early. The damage is largely superficial, and a good panel guy could whip the fender into shape without the need for anyone to source a replacement. The paint is well beyond its “best-before” date, so the buyer will face treating it to a fresh coat if they want to recapture this classic’s former glory. However, that appears to be the worst of the problems with this Ford. It seems that the storage environment must have been close to ideal because the supplied photos reveal this to be a rock-solid project car. There’s no denying that there is surface corrosion, but there’s no evidence of penetrating rust. However, I would treat the corrosion ASAP so that the dreaded tin worm doesn’t have a chance of sinking its teeth into that steel. A few trim pieces are missing, while others would benefit from a trip to the platers. The T-Bird rolled off the line fitted with tinted glass, and while this carries a heavy layer of dust, I can’t spot any evidence of significant chips or cracks.

It is said that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but that isn’t necessarily true if the knowledge in question is the right type. Take the question of engines in a ’66 Thunderbird. The buyer could have ordered it with the standard 390ci V8 that offered 315hp, 427 ft/lbs of torque, and respectable performance. However, by stumping up an additional $86, they could equip the car with the 428ci Q-Code V8. That is what the original owner did in this case, and this gave the driver 345hp and 462 ft/lbs under their right foot. This upgrade slashed the ¼-mile ET from 16.5-seconds to 16-seconds flat. It also raised the top speed from 130mph to 135. That seems like it would be money well-spent. Bolted to the back of this Q-Code is a three-speed automatic transmission, while power steering and power front disc brakes were standard equipment on a T-Bird from this era. This old gem last fired a shot in anger when it was parked, and in addition to the panel damage, a faulty fuel pump may have contributed to the extended hibernation. The seller hooked up a bottle to the carburetor, and that 428 coughed into life with no problems. As you can hear in this YouTube video, it sounds crisp and clean, with no odd noises or problems. There’s no arguing that the engine would benefit from some basic tuning, but it does represent a solid starting point.

The interior shots that the seller supplies don’t provide an effective overview, but they do show some promise. The seats are upholstered in a two-tone combination of blue cloth and vinyl, and their condition looks pretty respectable. The same is true of the dash, although the lower section of the driver’s door trim is shredded. It appears that the previous owner partially dismantled some aspects of the interior, and it isn’t clear why. It seems that some of the accessories don’t operate, but it is impossible to tell whether the dismantling was the cause or whether it was an attempt to address the problems. Either way, I see some detective work in the near future for the next owner. It is not an interior that is fully loaded, but power windows, a power driver’s seat, an AM radio, and a remote driver’s mirror would all contribute to a luxurious impression for the occupants.

The 1966 Ford Thunderbird is not a big-dollar classic, but they can represent affordable project cars for the right buyer. That seems to be what is on offer here, and its rust-free status is a significant selling point in a model that could be prone to problems. The original owner’s decision to order the car with a Q-Code V8 under the hood adds to its appeal and makes it an interesting proposition to consider. The harsh reality is that even though values have been climbing, enthusiasts will have no trouble finding a tidy example with the big engine under the hood for under $20,000. Even pristine cars will struggle to top $30,000. However, there is something about this car that is worth considering. The bidding has been subdued, which opens the possibility that someone could secure this car for next to nothing. It also appears to be a straightforward restoration project where the buyer could complete most of the work in a home workshop. With values climbing, restoring it could be a wise move. It might not make its next owner much money should they choose to sell it as soon as the work is complete. If they decide to keep the car long-term and then place it on the market, the story could potentially be very different. It is an option that might be worth exploring further.


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    It looks like a Town Hardtop [blind quarter window painted with the bird] (Body style code 63C) but the interior pictures seem to indicate Town Landau [blind quarter vinyl top with S bars} (Body style code 63D). The Town Hardtops did not have the wood trim on the doors, dash, and steering wheel. I’m not sure about the two-tone/material upholstery. These were my favorite body style of the 64-66 series and the Q code 428 is the real news with this car. GPK1961

    Like 9
    • John Rotella

      Jerry, it’s possible…not highly possible, but slightly possible that this car came with DSO woodgrain panels. There are a few such ’66s in the Thunderbird Registry with it. More likely that the owner either (a) put the woodgrain in himself or (b) removed the vinyl roof – but that looks original to me. I wish they had supplied more interior pictures and picture of the VIN plate.

      Like 1
      • Jerry Kenney

        John – I did not know that. Very cool. I think the Town Hardtops are the best. I agree, wish we had more interior shots. Best – Jerry

  2. Ralph

    Adam, don’t want to split hairs here, but there is no air dam anywhere on this car. It’s called a valance. If you want to see an air dam, see the Mustang Boss 302 or 429. Also ARA Cudas, etc. Thanks.

    Like 6
  3. Steve

    I’ve been watching the other Arcadian Blue one on ebay right now, ends tomorrow night!! cool cars!

  4. ccrvtt

    Ralph, don’t want to split hairs here, but it’s called an AAR Cuda. Thanks.

    Like 2
  5. Cadmanls Member

    I owned a 66 triple black town and country landau with the 428. This was in 72 had it for a few years. What a beast performance and great looks. I was young and caught a few muscle cars off guard. Had 70 series tires for bite and got rid of the resonators so the 428 could breath a little better. Man I miss that car, could pass a lot of things but a gas station. Sold it when I was a GI and gas prices got crazy. Got it off my grandmother with 12k miles really.

    Like 1
  6. Léo Gravelle

    I bought my ’66 Town Landau in 1974 and still have it! It’s definitely a great car and the 390 engine is enough to have taken me from Montreal (Qc) to Kentucky, Detroit, Washington, Charleston, Ohio at various TBird events. I agree that the value is not going up fast enough for an investor, but that’s alright for those with a thinner wallet. Parts are also plentiful, which is a motivator when falling in love with a vintage car!

    Like 1
  7. Troy

    If I recall these things had all kinds of electrical and vacuum line gremlins but it would still be a fun cruiser

  8. fran

    ” Subdued bidding has seen the price crawl to $2,600 in a No Reserve auction.”

    Of course, the buyer probably just wants the engine.

    Like 2
  9. Gary

    Hell, it’s worth it just to get the motor.

    Like 2

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