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California Native: 21K Mile ’74 Ford Thunderbird


This big Ford Thunderbird was supposedly discovered on a California ranch after many years of storage, and is claimed to have only 21,000 miles from new. Assembled at Ford’s Los Angeles plant, the car lived in California for all of its life before ending up here on eBay in New Milford, Connecticut, where bidding is just over $2,000 and the reserve remains unmet. 


The trail of breadcrumbs that would confirm this ‘Bird’s low mileage is a bit murky, as the car has been repainted at some point in its life (and poorly at that). However, the interior does show very well and would seem to indicate at least a low-use car and possibly one with under 30,000 original miles. How it got from CA to CT is a mystery and deflates some of my excitement for a car that would be more enticing if still on the ranch where it was found.


Selling the car as “as found in Northern California” is a bit disingenous, in my opinion, when the Thunderbird has clearly already been purchased once since being discovered. All that aside, the seller points out that this coupe hails from an era where the cars and the engines were equally huge, but this was also a time when 460 CI didn’t count for much. The seller has performed some light maintenance work under the hood, including a new timing cover gasket.


The seller notes that despite its supposedly preserved condition, this is not a car you can drive home. No other details are offered on what its specific maintenance needs are, but I suspect suspension bushings are shot and it likely needs new tires and brakes just to start. If the reserve isn’t much more than $2,500, this is at least a rust-free project, but more than that and I’d start to look elsewhere. However, that’s me; what about you?


  1. Howard A Member

    The old man had one of these 6th gen Bird’s.( ’73, I think) Somewhere after the ’68 Lincoln I took my road test on, and before his Cadillac’s, mid ’70’s. Not sure why he bought it, aside from no other reason that he got it cheap, it was so out of character for him. He didn’t have it long. I agree, for a 460, it really had poor response, (266 hp) even with the air cleaner top turned upside down. And that hood went on forever, it was a big car, ( 4,800 lbs) biggest T-Bird ever. It was a cruiser, a thirsty cruiser, ( 7 city/ 11hwy) and just seemed heavy, especially when trying to stop. These cars generally have limited appeal, just because it’s a big, heavy, inefficient car. Never cared for any T-bird’s after this, end of an era.

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    • Dovi65

      I love the big Birds, and this one is huge! I’m not a big fan of the 77 & up generations. Hard to imagine trying to support this thirsty beast .. 7 city/11 hwy mpg .. YIKES!

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  2. DrinkinGasoline

    I drove a ’73 in this exact color combination for a couple years. It wouldn’t pass anything, especially gas stations. Good road car though being very comfy. Sadly, the 70’s fuel crisis put an end to it.

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  3. M/K

    i completely digg this ride, huge and that 460 maybe week in this era but the modern after market can remedy that with just a few bolt ons and that C6 and 9″ are almost bullet proof and the car will “Cadillac” down the road in better style. blasphemy?

    Like 1
  4. nessy

    I have not seen a T Bird of this era for some time. I have a 75, bright red with a white top and white and red leather interior. It’s a great “Lincoln Like” car.

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  5. Chris

    I bought a 73 Thunderbird in 1989 for $150. It was gold in color and had the 460. That car was beautiful to look at, comfortable to ride in, but it lacked power and the fuel mileage was horrible. Shortly after I got the car, it threw the timing chain. Being young and foolish, I sold it to a salvage yard for what I paid for it. Now I wish I would’ve kept it and Installed a 351.

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  6. Allan

    Reminds me of the ’74 Mercury Cougar XR-7 I had for a while. Wonderful riding car.

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  7. jaymes

    gorgeous! i hardly believe the low milage claim

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  8. Luke Fitzgerald

    Emission strangled – looks like the styling was given to the truck division

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  9. RB

    Love the mold on the drivers seatbelt… I’d say 120k miles, my 1989 Lincoln Towncar with 90k miles looks much better inside.

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  10. john C

    I also have this model…coming off the Lincoln assembly line, and mine is Blue Starfire P3, …a really sharp royal blue, with a nice white top. I better fill up soon…!!!

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  11. Tom Driscoll

    Agree with the others…mileage is questionable, especially looking under the hood. If I was buying a 21k mile car, the paint had better look new!

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  12. M B

    Too many curious questions! Why the repaint when the Ford acrylic enamel held up generally well? Why replace just the timing chain cover gasket and not do a chain replacement while it was open? The carpet looks a little sun-faded. Plus the other questions raised about how it got to CT?

    I didn’t know they also built T-birds in Los Angeles! Only from the Livonia, MI “traditional” Lincoln and T-bird plant, as far as I knew.

    When the 55mph speed limit hit, some owners reported 17mpg on road trips, at the lower speeds AND cruise control. The 460 was emissions-hampered, plus a timing sprocket “retard” of 4 degrees built-in. This retarded the camshaft timing in relation to “straight-up”. A few tune-up tricks and modern radials might help the mpg a little.

    These were great looking cars when new. I thought the vinyl roof material on the thick body side moldings a little too much, though, but most of the later T-birds of this generation had them. The other thing is the velour interior might have issues when the vehidle sees normal duty. Leather was NICE in these cars!

    At least the current bid price looks accurate! Too many flaky signals for me.

    Like 0
  13. J. Crumpler

    This series Bird was to the Mark IV as a Bentley was to a Roller. Funny thing … the sticker was usually higher than Rivieras or Toronados, but the GM cars residual value was much better.

    Like 0

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