Cheap Bird–But Is It Inexpensive Enough?

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

I, for one, like the 64-66 Ford Thunderbirds. I also think they are undervalued in today’s collector car world. However, at some point you’ve got to really, really want to resurrect a car rather than find a way to buy an already finished one. This 1965 convertible is listed for sale here on eBay with a buy it now of only $1,500–but there are more than a few questions once you look through the pictures. It’s located in Stuart, Florida, which since it is on Florida’s “Treasure Coast” may explain the level of body corrosion visible.

One thing hopefully not to be too alarmed about is the damage to the convertible top — we’re told the car was driven into storage many years ago so hopefully water hasn’t been accumulating in that top well all this time. The seller states that there is 69,000 miles on the odometer but the seller is guessing that’s really 169,000. I agree with the seller in this case.

The corrosion here almost looks like it’s from the inside out. If that really is the case, I don’t want to see the underside of the car. On the other hand, if this really is mostly surface corrosion, you might be getting a real deal. I’d really want to have an in person inspection of this car before proceeding. However–there’s another way to go. What if you just made this one roadworthy and then started looking for a cosmetically better car that needed mechanical components? In the mean time, you’d have a heck of a conversation piece, and if you kept the top down and only brought it out on sunny days, who cares that it’s tattered?

Based on the interior, this car has seen a lot of sun. The leather is well beyond repair. However, again, going with the cheap driver idea, you can still get some pretty outlandish seat covers, like these spectacular ones here on eBay. It would certainly be a way to add some color to the equation–perhaps the orange ones?

You can’t really go wrong here — a Ford 390 V8 with air conditioning. Suppose for a moment the seller is right and the car was driven into storage. If that’s really the case, then with some fuel system cleanout (mostly labor apart from ~$200 for the tank & soft lines), a carb rebuild kit and tuneup, flush the cooling system, new hoses and a brake system rebuild, and probably a set of tires you could be motoring in style. Oh, I almost forgot–the $30 seat covers! What do you think? Parts car or low buck summer cruiser?

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  1. Blyndgesser

    There are. No words.

  2. doug6423

    Low buck summer cruiser if you’re lucky…

  3. Fred W.

    Buy my hardtop and save yourself a ton of cash and heartache.


      But it’s not a convertible!

    • Michael Rozmen

      Beautiful car man. Wish I had a few $$$$, I’ve always wanted another Bird.

  4. ccrvtt

    Fred W is right. This will never make economic sense to resurrect this car. But we look at the faded glory and it makes an instantaneous emotional connection. So the conundrum remains: Scrap it or fix it? It only makes sense as a labor of love. And how many retired body men really want to work that hard?

  5. Ken Carney

    Nice ‘Nird Fred! How much ate you asking for it? I have an old friend who is looking for one of these as she once owned a ragtop model back in the day. I’m sure that she would like your car over the convertible, which to me is toast. If I were a few years younger, I probably might have taken on a project like that. But now that I’m older, I’ll sit this one out and let a professional restorer tackle this one. As for my friend, she’d probably want them both!

    • Fred W.

      $4500 Ken. Spent about 3 months last year going through it, addressing power windows, replacing entire braking system, etc. Eventually will list it on BF when I have more time to handle the sale. It’s near Nashville.

  6. RS

    What is with that gigantic proboscis in the middle of the steering wheel?

    • Bmac Bmac Member

      That’s so it doesn’t hurt as much when the steering column pierces your body in a front end wreck!

  7. Bmac Bmac Member

    Too many electric motors, and you haven’t even started with the rust. Dad had a 66, his advise after selling it was “manual top, & crank up windows” all his hobby cars after that were base models with no “modern conveniences”.

    • J.Raley

      Couldn’t agree more,,,I have a 77 AMX Hornet,,,,no ac,no ,power windows ,,etc
      What you see is what you get,,,sometimes less is really more.

  8. Rustytech

    I love the kid 60’s Birds but, between the electronics, the hydraulics, the body work, the non running engine, who knows about the transmission, and what will certainly be major brake work, plus the mentioned low resale value, this is a non starter if I ever saw one!

  9. Newell Roundy

    Since we are on the subject of old Birds, I have a nice 64 hardtop with very nice original interior and a pretty good paint job if anyone is interested in it. I don’t know if mentioning this is ok on this site but I can send pic’s if anyone is interested. It’s turquoise exterior on turquoise interior in the lighter colors.

  10. Marshall

    That looks just like CIA agent Felix’ car from Goldfinger, except the car in Goldfinger was a 1964 (which has “Thunderbird” spelled out front and rear), not a 1965(which has the Thunderbird emblem front and rear), and a black convertible top, instead of the white one.
    In 1976, I briefly owned a 1965 Teebird hardtop.


      Apart from all that it looks exactly the same!

  11. JRATT1956

    Can you say Parts Car, maybe?

  12. ACZ

    Boat anchor!

  13. Rolf Poncho 455

    To rusty I’ll take Fred’s bird also don’t like soft top or
    open top cars

  14. Horse Radish

    was this a Buy-it-now, because by Midnight PDST this thing was sold….
    Good deal for $1500 if you ask me……

  15. Dogfather

    I think it is a good project. Get a Hemming magazine and there are lots of places selling reproduction parts for Tbirds. It will cost plenty of money to make it beautiful but finding parts won’t be an issue


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