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1958-1966 Thunderbirds ?



  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Well, I'd say you should start by deciding if you want a hardtop or a convertible. A hardtop will cost significantly less and will allow you to get a much nicer car for the money. As an example, a spectacular hardtop would be about the same price as a convertible "with needs". Plus, the on-going maintenance on a hardtop is much less. Finally, on post-less (B-pillar) hardtops, the open air area is so big with all the windows down that you will hardly miss not having a top that goes down.

    Just something to think about . . . . . .
  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    I still like the Thunderbird look inside and out. The up side is they are plentiful and cheap.Aside from seat comfort(which has been brought into question) the bucket seats look handsome and seem to me ahead of their time compared to other models in the same time period with front and back seats. I like the look of the dash and the layout of the instruments. The downside is rideability and electrical issues as has been stated which is a concern.
    The 66' Charger is "BIG", I like it and the price. It is less refined then the 68' which is my favorite year. I prefer the 3 tail lights to the later bar. My boss bought a 69' on ebay, southern car, for $17,000. Two years and $20,000 later the car is still in pieces, needs a complete interior, was riddled with rust and the rear bumper was held on with epoxy. He is wealthy and can afford it but who needs the aggravation. I shiver to think of this happening to me. I need everything done and ready to roll. Thanks for your reply.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    How about this:
  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    O.K. Now you are exposing my Achilles heel. My wife aside, I can see myself in a 50's chopped flat black Mercury, an imperfect classic on the surface but mechanically sound. You know what I am talking about, I came across a 56' Crown Victoria on the side of the road last year and while I was looking at it the owner drove up. The for sale sign was crossed out several times and it was priced at $6,000. It had bucket seats and 4 on the floor with a skull shifter. At the time it looked a little scary but now I think what the heck, I wouldn't have to worry about some kid slamming the door of the families SUV into the side at the local food mart. On the other hand I can see myself in a 59' Olds 88, dentist owned, with the wrap around back window. I think the 58 or 59 Impala has the same design. The 59 Ford Fairlane appeals to me. Many 59 automobiles appeal to me. Of course a convertible would be preferred but there is the maintenance. I am open minded, but shackled with a modest budget. Who wouldn't want to own a Corvette but the early ones are out of reach. I worry about drum brakes, oil bathes, 6 volt systems and cars without power steering and brakes. I will profit from your experiences.
  • In defence of the 2nd. Generation (58- 60) FORD THUNDERBIRD & recognizing Manufacture"s of the Day, One only has to do is ------------Exit Stage Left;;;;;; Literally----turn left----NASCAR if you will. Test Bed of Handling ,Brakes,Tires,Performance,Endurance,And Real Stock Cars.The date 2/22/59 Inaugral Daytona 500 Speedway,500 miles,Average speed 135.521 m.p.h.The First Photo Finish,Johnny Beauchamp (car#73),driving a 1959 FORD THUNDERBIRD,And Lee Petty (car#42),driving a 1959 New Oldsmobile. Reference Book, Title: Speed,Guts,& Glory................ 100 unforgetable moments in NASCAR History. Pages 10 & 11 . by the NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author; Joe Garner OR D.V.D. Stock Cars Grow Up : 1959-1962 by Steve Waid
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    How much is the asking price? Is this car listed on the internet somewhere? Thanks.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    Nope, not for sale, sorry - I googled it up, apparently it won a class at an Arizona Cougar Club show. Sounds like Picarso is more interested in '50s cars, anyway.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,413
    Let's keep this topic on the 58-60 Birds, okay, so we don't drift off too much.

    We have a nice long list of other topics to discuss the idea of choosing a classic car to buy, or we can start up a new topic for this very project!

    As for NASCAR and T-Birds, keep in mind that you can make ANY car go fast and handle if you have the skill and the money.

    What you saw on a NASCAR track had very little relation to what you drove away from a Ford dealership.

    I mean, they even raced Ford Falcons in the Monte Carlo rally and they raced Crosleys at Lemans!!!

    You got time, you got money, you got skill-----? Miracles can and do occur!


  • piCARsopiCARso Posts: 16
    I like it, very sharp. I have registered at the Hemmings site, thanks for the suggestion. Ebay has provided me with many hours of entertainment with intoxicatingly detailed pictures and descriptions of the cars and their owners feedback rating. A low "Buy Me Now" feature is always tantalizing, knowing the touch of a button can make a dream come true or your worst nightmare.It is fascinating that so many people buy cars unseen and undriven, brave and probably foolish.
    It tickles me when I read about Southwest cars that have never been rained on, ever! Living in the Northeast I could almost say the opposite, my car has seldom seen a dry day. In Maine, going anywhere without a functioning top or working wipers would ensure a wet interior and impaired vision. As fantasy can blur with reality, one day I am James Bond driving an Aston Martin (dating myself from early Bond), the next I am Casper Milktoast in a Rambler. On the plus , non-Bond side, so many cars from the 50's and 60's have style that even the most modest, 50 years later, in good shape, still turns heads. I realize no one can know my personal tastes but it is very helpful knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the major auto makers during these years. I don't mind generalizations. You could tell me the transmission was weak on a particular model and that information might help me later. Thank you again for your input.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 9,614
    i'm sure mr shifty can tell you how to go about getting an inspection for any car you are interested, so you don't end up with something that was misrepresented.
  • I find it interesting that FoMoCo considered entering what some may think as a BIRD that wouldn"t FLY. Let alone GMC considered a Doctor"s car as the shot in arm performer. Surely Car Manufactures play a major role for financial support,parts,recruiting the right people,and even swaying some from competive apponents.All these Cars of this time were somewhat sizable, I know, I"ve driven dozens of all makes & models. Not claiming to be an EXPERT , Some have a different personallity,temperment,character,It all depents on the History of the previous owner somewhat,was the car taken care of. Sometimes this doesn"t play in the factor. " AnyHow " To some it up, Don"t shoot down the BIRD (FORD THUNDERBIRD) and I won"t spear the SHARK (CHEVROLET CORVETTE), For One RULES the HEAVENS, And One RULES the SEAS,But they both share the EARTH (ELEMENTS). AS for NASCAR & OLD CARS , It"s a Miracle if you can handle the money,skill,and mainly the time (depending on your vision).YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE FEVER !
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,413
    No one is "shooting down" the T-Bird that I can see. What's being said (as far as I can gather) is that the old T-Birds and the old Corvettes are two entirely different animals built for two entirely different purposes.

    There's little luxury in a 1960 Corvette and no sports car in a 1960 T-Bird. I think that statement is "fair enough".


  • FAIR is FAIR, All American Auto Makers have tested the waters in many areas , and management came up for air to decide were the market maybe strongest. American auto makers then and now have simply blended in their own views of what has been considered Our Sports car and or Personal car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,413
    Yes these days the term "sports car" has been totally rendered meaningless--by which I mean that if everything is a sports car, then nothing is a sports car, or if everyone is "special" than no one is special or if we are all beautiful then...etc. etc.

    I would imagine every car is a "personal car".

    Oh, marketing. it's so silly sometimes.

    But a Corvette was America's only real sports car back we have Viper, Cobra, etc.

    The "Bird" went to "personal luxury" whatever that meant. You definitely did not see them on a race track, except for a few 55-57 Birds and the occasional whacky privateer.


  • wmondywmondy Posts: 4
    "I have been having problems with my car's engine loosing
    electrical power... It started last week when I was pulling
    into a parking lot... I heard a pop and could smell
    electric smoke... I cut off the switch and the lights and
    tried to restart the engine and it started fine. I when
    into the gym and worked out came out drove home (2miles),
    every thing was fine. The next day I was driving to school
    and after about 15 miles on the highway, when I exited the
    engine lost power again, no smell, no pop... I just coasted
    to a stop. The car started right up and drove fine for a
    couple of days... until today . This time I got about two
    miles from home and again it stalled like before. But this
    time it wouldn't crank when I turned the switch. No noise
    at all... just dead. lights worked, just no starting. After
    a while it stated to crank but would not run. At last after
    numerous tries it started, but as soon as I put my foot on
    the brake the engine died. This happened over and over....
    until I finally took of the brake light switch and It was
    fine. I drove 5 mile down the highway to exit and turned
    around for home. I made it home where I reasembled the
    brake light switch etc.

    I went out later to the gym and on the way back it happened
    again.... I made it home by driving without braking... I
    just barely made in to my drive way. Now it will crank
    sometime and some time it will start and braking wont
    affect it, but it will eventually die without braking,
    start again and braking will kill it.

    What is my car's problem?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,413
    I would remove and clean the battery cables first off, with one of those wire battery terminal cleaners.

    As for the brake issue, you may have a vacuum leak, most likely, either in the brake booster or the line that goes to it, or in the intake manifold on the engine.

    So I think you actually have at least two separate problems here.


  • wmondywmondy Posts: 4
    Ok, there is a vacuum leak I hear under the dash when the car it placed in gear, but the battery is fine. If I connect the battery terminal of the ignition regulator with the coil terminal of the regulator with the ignition switch in the on position the engine will crank but wont run... .
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,413
    Oh, do you have one of those fender mounted starter relays? Maybe that's the problem.


  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,602
    Those T-Birds were electrical nightmares and they had miles of vacuum lines.

    One of the dumbest things Ford did in those years was whern they decided that the parking brake should be released when the car was put in gear. That may be where you are hearing that vacuum leak from. These also had troublesome vacuum door locks that never seemed to work well after a few years.

    The swingaway steering wheel had it's own quirks along with the sequestial turn signals.

    I think I would disconnect the battery cable when you leave the car. Anytoime you smell electrical smoke, it's not a good thing!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,602
    Many years ago, I managed a huge auto center for Sears in So. Calif.

    In those days we did almost everything. We installed rebuilt engines, air conditioning, you name it.

    A guy insisted that we install a rebuilt engine in his ratty 1965 T-Bird. This would have been in the late 70's. The car was a POS but for some reason, he was attached to it. I tried to talk him out of wasting his money but he insisted.

    After we were done, he wanted us to find out why the car drifted all over the road and why the suspension made creeking sounds.

    Of course, in typical T-Bird fashion, the front end was shot. Ball joints, upper shafts, you name it. No problem, he said, fix it!

    So, we did the work and we were finishing up the alignment. My guy was setting the "toe" which requires the engine to be running on those cars.

    All of a sudden, it went into reverse all by itself! This, of course, released the emergency brake and the T-Bird took off in reverse.

    My guy looked up from below the T-Bird in the alignment pit, and the T-Bird was GONE! It was backing up at fast idle into my other shop building!

    One of my guys was installing a headliner in a car and he barely got out of the way! The T-Bird hit that car, smashed a new Coats tire machine, and slipped into drive from the impact!

    Everybody scattered and it ended up head first, over the side, in our alignment pit! A lot of screaming and a lot of bad words were heard!

    It took two tow trucks and a lot of skill to get it out!

    Surprisingly, the damage to the T-Bird was minimal compared to what it did to the shop!

    It took my upholstery guy an hour to quit shaking!
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