Driver Project: 1965 Ford Thunderbird

You don’t have long to pick up this pretty 1965 Thunderbird, seen here on eBay and sent in by Barn Finds reader Matt Williams. While not perfect, there are a lot of good bones here and with bidding currently at $2,995 with no reserve someone might get a real bargain. The Thunderbird is located in New London, Wisconsin, and is being sold by a charity that unusually gives you decent detail pictures and a pretty thorough reading on what’s right and wrong with the car.

I thought at first that this is just a regular hardtop, as shown by the lack of a vinyl roof, but there are landau bars on the rear pillars so perhaps I just can’t tell the white is vinyl! As you can see from this shot, the exterior paint seems to be very shiny as well as being straight.

All is not completely rosy underneath the big Bird, as you can see some rust as well as a pop-riveted floor repair. However, either the rockers and outer quarters have escaped the rust or someone’s good with body filler. Either way, if you are looking for a driver and are even a mediocre welder, the necessary welding repairs underneath can be done over time while you are enjoying the car.

While certainly a little worn, if you are able to make a repair to the split in the driver’s side seat, I think you could live with the interior “as is” for a good long time.

Under the hood, we find both good and bad. I’m excited that the air conditioning system is present, but it’s not currently running. We’re told the transmission slips and there’s both valve train noise and oil leaking from the valve covers. However, honestly, that could be nothing more than an extended period of inactivity–stranger things have happened than fluid changes fixing things like that (apart from the valve covers, and I’d want to peek in there anyway). I’d certainly try it first! One more thing to check is the radiator cap; the leaking around there could mean overheating (or a sloppy filler?) Anyway, for this kind of price, you can’t expect perfection, but I’m thinking some reasonable tinkering and at worst a transmission and upper end rebuild might have this Thunderbird ready for cruising in short order. What are your thoughts?



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  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Emberglow metallac Special Laundau – needs the usual mechanicals – don’t like the rusted out torque boxes tho’

  2. paul

    heavy rust and repaint not for me

  3. Bob_S

    I believe that this is really a 1966 T-bird. The 66 MY didn’t have the thunderbird on the rear lights.


  4. Ian McLennan

    Those are correct rear lights for a 1965, and the chrome flash on the front fender, behind the wheel, was a 1965 only, decoration.

  5. Chuck Simons

    that rust scared me away from it. I was ready to make the drive to Wisconsin…..nope!

  6. Todd Fitch Staff

    Definitely a ’65. I brought a ’66 T-bird back from the dead – much rougher than this. My favorite combo is the ’66 (for the tail lights) with this roof, not the Town Landau you see on most ’66 cars. I’m no expert but the paint looks a little too red to me. These are classy cars!

  7. Dt 1

    Not bad for 3K

  8. Beau

    Looks like Royal Maroon to me, not “Red. Where are the fender skirts? Could be a super nice ride with a little TLC.

  9. RR Hickman

    The taillight panel may be 1965, but the front seat cushion pattern is 1964. 1974, 1965, 1966 were each a different pattern, and this is a 1964 pattern. Perhaps the cushion covers have been replaced.

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