Another Bargain Bird: 1966 Thunderbird Coupe

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This 1965 Ford Thunderbird was purchased from the estate of the second owner. It had been sitting for a while and needed some mechanical freshening to be roadworthy again. That work has been done and now it’s ready to drive! It’s located in San Diego, California and is being sold here on eBay at no reserve. The opening bid is only $3,000, and if it stays there I’ll have to figure out how to get it home from California! I doubt it will, though. 

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The second owner purchased it from the original owner when the car was showing 11,000 miles; the car is now showing 19,000 miles. I’m guessing that’s 119,000, although the seller isn’t sure. The second owner decided they wanted a red car with a white top, and promptely painted over the original Diamond Blue; I believe they must have replaced the carpet as well. Is it me, or does the front bumper look a little bent?

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That huge deck and rear bumper look really nice and straight, and the seller tells us that the sequential turn signals work perfectly. If you haven’t seen those, it’s worth asking someone at your next local car show to demonstrate them for you; I love the ones on my Mustang that are an imitation.

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The interior looks a little unusual with the mixture of silver-gray and red, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. The ad does state that there is some minor rust on the body; I think what I’d do if I owned this one is enjoy the car as-is for the moment, and eventually return the car to it’s Diamond Blue original color and do whatever bodywork was necessary.

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As I mentioned earlier, the dealership selling the car did quite a bit of mechanical refurbishment to get the ‘Bird back on the road. With a long list, including new fluids and filters, new fuel and water pumps, a re-cored radiator and a new carburetor, there was also a new distributor, alternator, battery and starter cables. Finally, some exhaust work and getting the power windows working got this great old Ford ready to cruise again. No, it’s not original, and despite the seller’s comments it won’t win any car shows, either. But I sure would feel great driving it around our new hometown this summer!

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Comments

  1. Jim

    Nice car. It should be interesting to see what it goes for.

  2. ydnar

    I’d say over 10K easy. He’s selling a nice ‘Vette too.

    • Larry K

      Yes he is…an untitled 2015 C7.

  3. Luke Fitzgerald

    66 car with formal roof

  4. Alan (Michigan)

    Nice.
    First thing I think I’d be hunting up is a set of body and window seals, for doors, trunk, etc. If exact ones are not being repro’d, then find the closest generic and have at it. Looking at the driver’s door photo, I think that one of what has been called by the descriptive name “fuzzies” is missing where the inside top of the door meets the glass.
    Would this 45 year-old car be ok with today’s premium gas?

    • ydnar

      You would not want to hot rod it, as the valve seats are not hardened, but will last if not abused. There are plenty of repops for this car. The timing can be retarded if the new gas causes preignition. There are gas stations around here that still have non ethanol.

      • Mark S Member

        If the modern fuel becomes a problem you can always pull the heads and have them rebuilt with stelite seats and sodium cooled valves. You could also put heavier distributor advance weight springs in to the distributor. This will allow the base timing to stay at spec. while allowing for a lower total advance. I don’t know if there is a thicker head gasket avalble to reduce the compression ration. If the car were mine the red would have to stay as it is my favorite colour. nice find.

  5. grant

    It isn’t just the valves, there’s lead additive for that, but the ethenol in today’s gas will chew old fuel systems to peices. And yes you can get clear gas but it’s expensive… probably cheaper (in the long run) to upgrade the valves and fuel systems to handle pump gas.

    • ydnar

      I just filled up my ’65 for $1.79 per gallon. I would drive it until it needed repairs. I am on a tight budget.

      pieces!!

  6. MountainMan

    Nice looking old bird. I just bought a 1965 Thunderbird today. Its been parked for over a decade. The seller had bought it two years ago…drove it home and its been sitting but started on occasion. Tried to upload pics but not sure how to resize them on my phone. Its maroon with black interior. Decent shape, clear coat peeling but straight except for the hood (was recently backed into)

    • ydnar

      Must be a repaint, if it has clear coat.

      if you bought it off of an ad, just put a link to the ad.

  7. Metalted

    What a beautiful, bird. Love the fe390.
    Have one in my 64 merc. Mine has the super murader 390 in it. With mercamatic tranny. In drive start out in 2nd gear. Much better and rear rubber!!!
    Put it in 1st and the big old girl will toast rears.
    Of course NEVER on puplic roads. Hahaha👍

    • Inacoma

      My 64 Galaxie had the same 390 2/3 speed tranny combo – lots of fun for sporty down shifting – I was told the 2 gear start off was designed for wet / icy roads ?

      • Jason Houston

        That is correct. Prior to the SelectShift Cruisomatic, which came out in 1967 across all lines of Ford products, the regular 3-speed Cruisomatic had a 2-speed range for a 2nd gear start on wet, snowy, slushy or muddy ground. For 1967, Ford rearranged the valve bodies which gave it 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear starts. This accomplished the same thing but with less confusion on the part of the driver. It also mimicked the Synchro-Smooth manual gear boxes, which were gaining in popularity.

        But if you really want “sporty down shifting”, you’ll never beat a 4-speed manual!

  8. Jason Houston

    It’s owned by a dealer and has a very recent plates, so WATCH OUT. It could be from anywhere. Someone’s gonna take the ride…

  9. David G

    Ooh, ooh-ooh, nice. Factory AC, power WING-VENTS added to the PW option, passenger-side Reclining Seat with ascending Headrest, and Cruise Control render this one a very nicely-optioned car as these 4-6 Flair-birds go.

    Personally am a fan of original colors per the data plate but i wouldn’t change this since red with grey can be a nice look and condition appears pretty good here. With all its options inc AC, am a bit surprised it didn’t get the optional 428ci too.

    • Jason Houston

      I’m in agreement with you 99.9999% – the only l holdout color being WHITE, which is nothing more than an open invitation to add color, limited only to the interior. Unless it’s his pictures, I doubt this red is the real Candyapple Red, which is a blood-red shade, rather than fire-engine red. And I sense there’s some trim missing. But, red with white INTERIOR is dynamite!

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