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1958-1966 Thunderbirds ?



  • 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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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 Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh, do you have one of those fender mounted starter relays? Maybe that's the problem.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    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: 20,225
    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!
  • wmondywmondy Posts: 4
    Yes, the park brake will not hold when the pedal is pressed... I will check the vacuum line... I checked the starter relay with a volt meter and it is fine. How can I check the ignition switch?

    No burning smells after the first time...

    Oh there was and after market radio hook hooked up that that I disconnected and thee turn signals sometimes stop working, then the next time I drive the car they are fine... like right now I bet the car will start fine and run for a while, then all of a sudden...................

    Come on guys, I know y'all have some better Idea! :sick:
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    You are asking us to guess and there could be a hundred reasons for this. Trying to find a qualified person with the ability or desire to work on it will be difficult. Electrical problems can be miserable to track down.

    You might want to just replace your ignition switch if you can find one.
  • wmondywmondy Posts: 4
    Yea you are right... I just thought someone out there might have run into the same problem once... I really apreciate the replys and the the story about the Sears Auto Shop incident was great... :)

    Any way for any one who is interested I went out this morning and it started right up... let it warm up .... and went to put it in gear and right after stepping on the brake peddel :( ... she cut off!

    Dead switch again :cry:

    I will try to find a switch somewhere :confuse:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I'm certainly not going to advise you to hook up wire B to terminal A and then read about your car catching on fire!!! :P
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    You know, I'm wondering if his brake booster is bad and when he stepped on the brake pedal a massive vacuum leak stalled the engine?

    Unrelated to the electrical problem but these old Birds were always causing troubles even when they were fairly new!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    They usually run like crap from balky carburetors, vacuum leaks, manifold leaks, etc.

    It's not an easy car to get running smoothly, has been my past experience. Perennially "lumpy" to say the least.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    To make matters even worse, it's a 428. These weren't as easy to work on than the 390's were and they really didn't produce that much more power. They DID use a whole lot more gas and the Ford mechanics hated working on them.

    The T-Bird in question here needs someone who really knows what they are doing to trace the problems down. Anything can be fixed if you throw enough time and money at it.
  • Hi. im new here - i have 2 birds a 58 Ht and a 60 rag -i got them in a divorce and lost all my paperwork and contacts - the 60 the rear deck wont open and it needs a new top - where can i find a body service manual to work on it and how do i get it open without destroying it. any and all suggustions will be appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well put down that pry bar and get yourself a copy of Hemmings Motor News. They should offer everything you'll need for those cars. ( Available at most newsstands or online.
  • tbird8tbird8 Posts: 5
    Go ahead and buy the tbird ! They were great cars for the time in witch they were built. If i may make a suggestion, get a 1966 thunderbird with the 428 motor, add new gas shocks and high quality radials. maybe a new set of larger sway bars and a electronic ignition. any car of this age is going to have a few problems, but none have the thunderbirds style! I had a 1966 for years and had very few repairs on it, and having been 16 at the time i was not prone to take it easy on the old girl. oh as a point of fact mine was a 390 bird and she would do 122 as i had the ticket to prove it.yes she was a little scary at that speed, but so were general motors cars. so seriously consider a tbird, once bitten by the bird you never forget.
  • I have just replaced the brake booster and master cylinder on my 1966 thunderbird and have tried and tried to get it to bleed out but can not get it to work. I would like any advise I can. Thank you. mantismod3
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well you could go buy some brass or steel plugs at the hardware store, then removing the brake lines from the master cylinder and insert the plugs. Then bleed only the master cylinder, cracking open the plugs to let out the air. If the master cylinder won't bleed in this way, then it's no good.

    Once you have hard pedal at the master you can proceed to each wheel cylinder, starting at the wheel furthest from the master.

    If the system won't bleed, after you've successfully bled the master previously, then you have a leak somewhere else or heavily worn brake shoes that have allowed a wheel cylinder to expand beyond its normal range.
  • great i just got a 64 bird for $750.00 and its not far from being a great cruiser. i need a gas tank,a skirt (prob won't use)..i need a door skin(drivers), and a few interior fixes...but other than that the car is in good shape...but after reading all 53 messages in this post....well that was scary....thats ok i'm gonna change this car to the way i want it...disc brakes, elec igni, different tires, get rid of some of the vac stuff ..replace with elec doors, elec air, i don't know about what to do with the cruise control yet, i' m going to loose some of the wieght...the chrome is in great shape but the bumpers....rechrome...i have no idea where to put a radio and speakers...don't want to cut the car up or the console.... big dreams... (i hope my wife gets that extra job) haha...time &money but i figure 2-3 years i'll have it about right...its a cruiser..if the curve says 45mph...take it at the tread...people don't realize that this car is 4431lbs... its not a sports go slow in this car so people can get a good look at the car and whos driving it.....just think pop open the trunk at the grocery store and everyone is looking at the car.. older folks talk about how they remembeer the car when they where younger. when times where abit slower... dang car has no cup holders .....gotta fix that... flair birds to me are art and i love them...this is a car that even my wife likes to cruise around in and she's gonna love it when its done.....i'm 40 and i wanted a t-bird
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Sure, as long as you don't cut the car up, you can add and bolt-on whatever you want to make it more enjoyable (and safer) to drive.

    Or if you want to chop it up and make a full-blown custom piece of artwork, no big deal. These cars are not so rare and precious that one more couldn't be donated to a worthy project of customization, if you wish.

    I'd rather see a custom T-Bird from the 60s than yet another Chevelle done up that way.

    I like these cars in the bright 60s "beach colors"---the corals, aquamarines, etc.
  • beach colors would be a great way to go ...I just need to figure what goes with red interior? I don't want to chop up the body or anything that will change the inner or outer of the car but yes make it you remember the old side pipes you always saw on the corvettes. i saw some on a 65 t-bird but only could see the door area and half of the back tire.. i wish i could have seen the rest of the car...might be crazy enough to look almost good?....well i just need to get mine running good enough for road use....i think (in the long run) i will customize the car but you know...time and money...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,489
    beach colors would be a great way to go ...I just need to figure what goes with red interior?

    I guess a red interior does limit your choices a bit. Maybe white, black, silver, gray, or varying shades of red/burgundy? I couldn't picture a blue or green going too well with a red interior, but maybe if it's a pale enough hue? I have seen yellow cars with red interiors, and it looks a bit clashy to my eyes. I wonder if coral would work though?

    Anyway, good luck with your car...hope you have fun with it! I've always liked the '64-66 style of T-bird.
  • Have installed rebuilt starter and selinoid switch . when key is turned battery level drops. there must be a short in the circuit.. Any suggestions ??
  • Just a thought that left me stranded a few times. The neutral safety switch may be causing your problems. This is part electrical, part mechanical, and a whole lot of pain in the a**. Part of it is on the column and is there so when the swing away wheel is over, the car won't start. When they get old, it doesn't make contact, therefore making the ignition switch useless. It is also linked to the transmission, so if there is any slop in the linkage, it makes is not work too. Just a thought, and if this isn't it, that will be good for you. Good luck.
  • Hey. I have a '65 t-bird and I need to replace the neutral safety switch and I'm having a hard time finding instructions. Could anyone please tell me how if they know? Thanks.
  • I got a rust-free 64 Landau out of Arizona about a year ago. Dropped in a 5L HO and new Tranny good to about 700HP, I can get over 300 out of the HO with a Holly Quad and a few goodies. Am down to cosmetics and am now closing in on 15k. Understand that the Wife loves it, as she had one as a teenager. Am I well past the sales value? Or can I safely do another @2k cosmetic to please the Lady. This Bird has everything except front discs. Even has a stock sequential Taillight system (replaced with new one). I took it to metal and not a bit of Bondo or cancer anywhere. Think I can get most of my money back?
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