It’s Fabulous! 1966 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop

A consistently undervalued series of classics (in my opinion) is the 1961 to 1966 Ford Thunderbirds. This particular car was sent in by Barn Finds reader Pat L., who discovered it here on craigslist. As you can see from the ad, this fabulous Thunderbird is located in Aptos, California and is priced at $9,500, but the seller says he’s a reasonable guy and you can make him an offer. While that green paint is pretty, the seller says it dates from the 1980s–but it looks Tuff Enuff to me. 

The 1966 Thunderbird was the last of the series, and this particular one is reported to have only 34,426 miles. The seller relates how they purchased the car from a collector in Stockton, Arizona and drove it five hours home. They seem to have owned it for about a year and have done some work on it.  The roofline makes this a standard 1966 hardtop as opposed to the Town Landau or Town Hardtop. No, I don’t know why Ford made it so complex either. But I sure like it, and the fender skirts make it look that much better from this rear 3/4 angle.  Thankfully the paint is great on this car and it doesn’t have a Marked Deck.

Looking inside, we see a very original interior that looks great, but I can’t really tell what color it is–so I decided to look it up while I was waiting for someone to Let Me In. Ha! There are 36 total interior combinations for the 1966 Thunderbird as documented here. Not only that, the color is different in different pictures, although in this one it’s even worse because you are looking at it through tinted windows. The seller does say that the vinyl interior is cracked in spots. That knocks the color choices down to only 10!

Here the interior looks green, which would make sense considering the exterior color. However, there is no green listed in the choices, so until someone tells me differently, I’m going with code 28/58 Ivy Gold. Whatever color it is, everything seems to be in nicely used but decent shape. And I’d love to be in this interior taking my family somewhere because That’s The Way We Roll (in my dreams!)

The factory standard 390 was boosted in 1966 to 315 horsepower and a whopping 427 ft-lbs of torque, plenty for even moving this heavy car around, although it will never be a Pocket Rocket. Remember earlier when I said the current seller had improved the car? They have added a new set of Running Shoes (tires,) new shocks, and replacement front end components, although the ball joints still have to be installed as do some tune up parts. They have also obtained but not installed a new lower cushion for the driver’s seat as it has sagged.  I’m interested in what kind of offer you’d make on this fabulous Thunderbird–do you think you’d be singing a song afterward?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    One of the nicest T-birds made, I feel. As usual, I don’t believe the mileage, but that shouldn’t detract from the wonderful condition it’s in,,,,,cosmetically. Again, underside shots would tell the whole story. Now this car could be made to get somewhat reasonable mileage, maybe low to mid teens, but you didn’t buy a car like this for good gas mileage. This is a “left lane” car, for sure. Love it! “Swing away steering wheel” and all.
    http://www.kitfoster.com/images/2006-11-29_1961TBirdSwingAwayWeb-Large.jpg ( thanks to kit foster)

    • King Al

      Just saw one today in traffic. Wimbledon White. Even more beautiful after 50 years has passed.

  2. Big Mike

    My Uncle Paul (Dad’s Brother) had a 66 T-Bird, got it after he returned from his first of 3 tours to Vietnam, while serving in the US Air Force. I remember his was dark Blue very pretty car and nice ride. He had it until sometime in the mid to late 70’s when he traded it into for a Ford LTD, but regretted it and wished he had kept it. He always said his Wife made him get rid of it because it wasn’t big enough for the family, they had 1 girl. Oh well lost Loves as Dad always put it!!!

  3. Jeff V

    Luv it! Divorced moms bf had one when I just got my license, one day he let me drive. I was chauffeuring them through a nice park area & he sd “we need to get some beer”, I floored it! It was quite a while before he let me drive again. That 390 was a powerhouse!

  4. 86 Vette Convertible

    That is one good looking Bird IMO. I’d say it has more ‘class’ than mine, and I love mine but there’s something about the early ones that was lost over the years. That’s a cruiser IMO.

  5. Dan

    Why does a 34,000 mile car need ball joints?

    • Tommy D

      Probably Ford guaranteed-to-squeak after a year poly bushings?

  6. Tirefriar

    Seller states that the car drives great, but those hand made custom wheel chocks scream “ran when parked”

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Tirefriar, possibly 1966 Ford accidental “roll-away” paranoia?

      • RoselandPete

        Back in the 60’s it was not paranoia. Fords were famous–or infamous– for slipping out of park. I knew one guy who got killed when his 60’s Ford station wagon rolled over him. I also wondered about the chock. Wouldn’t the parking brake hold the car?

    • 86 Vette Convertible

      Personally, I do that (chocks) with both my Vette and T-Bird in the garage. Both have working parking brakes, manual tranny in the Vette and automatic in the Bird which also work just fine. I do it because I’ve always done it with my toys, force of habit.

  7. Mike

    I own a light metallic blue version of this. Awesome car. Well, until the brakes went to the floor going 35 downhill approaching an intersection with stopped cars. My only option was to do a big swoopy, tire screeching turn onto a side street. I hit a curb, blew out one tire, sideswiped a metal pole and rolled to a stop 40 yards downrange in an open field. The culprit was low brake fluid in the master cylinder. Another lesson for owners of old classics.

    • Fred W.

      I drove to Louisville KY last year to buy this one, Hottest day of the year and none of the windows went down, also the brakes turned out to be completely shot, a true miracle I got it home in one piece. Replaced very single component of the brake system and added a dual master so Mike’s situation hopefully never happens to me. A year later, everything works and it’s a fun car to take to the local cruise in.

  8. ccrvtt

    Totally agree that the ’61-’66 T-birds are highly desirable. The flight deck driving position and the wraparound back seat just ooze mid-’60’s class. I wish they made cars that looked like this one now with today’s vastly superior reliability and engineering.

  9. Oldog4tz Member

    Ask a man who owned one, interior is “Ivy Gold”

  10. Miguel

    Is it just me or does this car look like the car that the junkyard in Arizona repaired on their show? It was the same color and had the same hub caps on it.

  11. TBall

    I’m seeing Matt Helm drive off into the sunset… Would love to have room in the garage for this one.

  12. Mike Heath.

    Nice example.maybe the miles are what the owners done since he’s had it.seem very low.

  13. Tommy D

    I like these, but feel they have a personality problem: sports car turned luxury. They could have offered a GT version with a hipo motor, sport wheels, supension (plus a floor shift and quick steering) and who knows…we’d be looking for one on Barn Finds!

    • Jeff V

      Some did come with the optional 428!

      • Rocco

        I thought there was one(428) on BF a few weeks ago.

  14. erikj

    Another really underrated piece of pure muscle. from the day. I,M not a big one on these birds, but you could have ordered it with that 427!!!
    WOW, just imagen that!

  15. james r burton

    we rebuilt the eng. in my buddie’s 66 back in the 90s and it was a 428. stamped right on the back of the block num. matching car but you know it wasn’t all that impresive to drive power wise. maybe it ran better after it broke in.acted like the carb was to small or it needed a hotter cam. it was same color of this car. he still has it but i bet he hasn’t put a 1000 miles on it since then. a car hoarder

    • Jim ford

      FOMOCO never had matching #. So sick and tired of seeing and hearing Ford Classic car ads saying “Matching numbers”. All they had was a “engine ID tag” on the engine which could very easily be taken off. STOP with the numbers matching Ford cars back then.

      • Rocco

        Ford had the VIN# stamped on the block near the oil pan rail & the tranny had a partial VIN# on performance model’s(Mustang/Fairlane/Mercs.,etc.) in the 60’s-70’s. Later, in the 90’s, the last(6) sequential #’s are on the back of the block(drivers side), for “performance vehicles”.
        289 hipo, 390 4-speed, 428 Cobra-Jet, BOSS cars, Cobra”R”, Lightning trucks, Shelby’s, etc. are good examples.
        You might want to do a little research(read) before you make such strong statements. I have personally seen what I just described, plus, there are automotive books, with pics to show where to look for VIN#’s.

  16. Bradley Clark

    If you have ever seen one of these in the dark with the panel lights illuminated, you may agree that this instrument panel is of the finest ever produced anywhere. The super cool “thermometer” like speedometer is interesting to look at, but the 4 gauges are so futuristic, with the traditional Ford blue/green lighting is very pleasant to look at, at night. Rear ventilation. Who had that, other than,Tbird ? And those fantastic sequential turn signals? Thank you, Mustang, for the revival. I saw one of these that I would call a really rare one of these several years at a car show. 428, every available factory option (including AM/8-track stereo tape player. And the coup d’ gras; a retractable hard top ! I didn’t know they existed ! The owner started the engine, and ran the top up and then back down. With the trunk opening, from front to back, and watching this heavy roof going up & down was something only Ford could pull of, in the day. IMO, the last of the truly great Thunderbirds. And that wrap-around back seat was wayyyy too sexy.

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