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Bargain Bird: Running 1965 Thunderbird Project


This 1965 Ford Thunderbird looks like a good basis for an inexpensive classic driver, although there are a few areas that will require some new metal. It’s located in Detroit, Michigan and is listed here on eBay where bidding is currently at $430 with no reserve.


In this shot, you can see the worst of the rust, just in front of both rear wheels. I’m not sure whether the areas of gray and red primer are spots that have been painted, or whether the paint has worn through and a different color primer was used on the hood. Maybe a sign of a previous repair or replaced panel? The seller says a previous owner started to sand it down; maybe they applied the primer too? The fender skirts must have been off for a while; the original light blue metallic shows there and is quite attractive to me.


The seller includes some details shots as well, showing a nice original trunk (with bias-ply spare) and an underside that doesn’t look bad either. They point out that there is an area on the passenger side floor has been previously repaired and that the exhaust system looks relatively new.


As you might well imagine, the interior shows signs of wear, and I’m wondering whether it’s really 87,059 or 187,059 miles. Based on pedal pad wear and seat upholstery alone, I’m guessing the lower figure, but it’s obviously just a guess. The seller admittedly bought the car to flip and make a little money, so you’re probably not going to get a lot of previous history.


At the heart of every early Thunderbird, there’s a big V-8 engine and this is no exception. The 390 actually runs and has been the recipient of a recent Edelbrock carburetor, but is not running well on the old gas in the tank. This could be indicative of something major, or it could be just bad fuel or a fouled plug. If the price stays relatively low, that’s nothing to keep you from taking a chance on this big bird. The fact that the brakes work (albeit you have to pull the pedal back up!) is just a bonus; at least they should be rebuildable. I like this one, especially if it stays below $1,000; you’ll never make a lot of money on the car, but that’s not why I’m in the hobby anyway! I’d like to pick this one up, fix the problems and turn it into a cool driver. Do you think it’s worth the effort?


  1. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    I can’t say anything bad about this flipper. In fact, I wish all flippers were like him—no big claims, no hard sell, actually put a bit of cash into the car to get it running, honest, pretty good description, very low start bid, and no reserve. What’s not to like here?

    He got it out from somewhere it has been sitting a while doing nothing, and I hope he does make a few bucks.

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  2. Avatar photo FiestaFrank

    Its been on Craigslist for a while http://detroit.craigslist.org/wyn/cto/5366436569.html

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  3. Avatar photo William H

    My father bought white ’65 or ’66 T-Bird for $800 that had been sitting behind a barn for years. It looked absolutely horrid. Had a black mold-looking residue all over it and rat nests in the engine compartment. We spent about a week getting it cleaned it up, changed the fluids, cleaned out the gas tank, etc. After a good wash, polish and wax, the paint actually looked incredible. After a thorough cleaning, the interior ended up being in really great condition as well. It only took a little tinkering to get it started up and ran well. If I remember correctly, the speedometer didn’t have a needle, it looked kind of like a thermometer. Also, the back seat kind of wrapped around almost under the rear windows.

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    • Avatar photo GeeBee

      The backseat was one of the coolest things about these cars, in my opinion

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  4. Avatar photo randy

    I’d say this guy would not qualify as a flipper in my book either. I’d say he is more like a rescuer. That is very respectable, that is how I turn cars, and haven’t made a profit yet. I do use them for a few years though.

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    • Avatar photo Dolphin Member

      A rescuer, not a flipper—yes, good point.

      Making a few bucks would mainly pay expenses and a few bucks per hour worked, which nobody would begrudge any honest person.

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  5. Avatar photo piper62j

    That left qtr pnl rot gives cause for thinking twice.. It all flows into the rocker and my money is on the floor pan rot too..
    Anyway, good find and a great project for someone with the right stuff..

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  6. Avatar photo Gary Chittenden

    I buy and sell a few cars every year. The comment about being a rescuer fits most, real car guys. Sometimes I buy a car knowing that I won’t make money on it, but it just has to be rescued and then passed along to someone who will take care of it. .Being honest about what you are selling is only common decency. I have driven for hours to see a “mint” car, only to find a bondo, beater. I tell everyone exactly what they are coming to see. It cuts down on the traffic, but at least they know as much about the car as I do.
    This Bird looks good. Needs a little lipstick, and a going over.

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