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1964-66 Thunderbirds



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,454
    Well, it depends on what quality of car you want. If you are talking about a clean driver, I think all the reputable price guides pretty much show the numbers I gave you. Also, sometimes it just takes the experience of being in the hobby a long time to know which cars will actually pull their book prices and which ones won't.

    Here's my reasoning when I look at prices.

    Seems like most of the reliable price guides (NADA, CPI, various auction guides) put a #1 '64-'66 Bird at around $23K-$24K. Now it seems to me that in this economic climate that if you waved $20K in the buyer's face cold hard cash he'd be a fool not to take it....IF he really wants to sell the car....if he's fishing for someone to bail him out of a car he put too much money into (and if he totally restored a '66 Bird, he is upside down in the car), then that's too bad for him.

    Now if a 95 point show car could be had for $20K, seems to be a clean driver could be had for $5K -$6K less.

    Another factor is that the market for these cars isn't all that hot....they made over 22,000 of them and I don't believe the demand is much more than that. It's not a car "everybody wants" like a '57 Chevy convertible.

    So these two factors ---economic climate and supply and demand, tend to stabilize and rationalize the price for cars like this.

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  • I have a 2 door 67 with a 390 and it rides and drives great. It won't win any handling contest but you already said you want a cruiser and it cruises great. Most came with drum brakes all around that are less than great but alteast for 65-67 maybe even 68 galaxies 77-79 t-bird front spindles and disc brakes are a direct swap. I think you should be able to pick up a pretty nice one for under $10k.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Some of you may know I started the 65-67 Catalina 2+2 forum/discussion and I do like these cars. But I have to admit that after years of hankering for a 1964-65 (the grill on the '66 is just too ugly even for me) Thunderbird convertible, I cannot totally dismiss them - as others have suggested that I do.

    Some have indicated the "flair bird" is not a particularly "hot" car and while I know it's not in the class of a Tri-Power GTO, the T-Bird name, in general, is an American icon. Thus, I have to think the T-Bird marque has more staying power than other mid-60's convertibles - and thus would help protect my investment. Furthermore, there are at least 3 major national/international Thunderbird Clubs. Ever try to find a club specifically for a Pontiac Catalina?

    I just love the lines and dashboard of the 64-65's T-Birds. If only it had a useable trunk when the top is down . . . .
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,043
    ...but I think I actually prefer the grille on the '66 to the '64-65! I couldn't remember what the difference was, so I went to Ebay to check out some they had for sale.

    Looks like the biggest difference is the '66's grille is much taller, and wraps under the headlights. I guess I like it because it's a finer lattice style, and not as chromey as the '64 and the '65.

    Parm, if one of these T-birds is what you really want, I say go for it! If it's what you want, a Pontiac just wouldn't be a proper substitute, and you'd still probably be wanting that T-bird instead.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    I have to agree with parm here. I think the 66 grille ruined the looks of the car. I do like the tailights better though.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Yeah, get the Bird out of your system. Otherwise you'll never be satisfied with what you have, trust me.

    Although running a 2+2 briskly through the gears with the top down on a summer afternoon...getting the full audio effect of 421 cubic inches...feeling the adoring gaze of your wife and kids...what's not to like? ;-)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    With the Reverb turned on!

    Remember that? Very popular option on Pontiacs at the time!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,043
    ...wasn't that like an early form of stereo or something? My '67 Catalina has a dummy speaker plate in the back seat, but no speaker. I've heard mention of reverb, but just have no experience.
  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Parm, it sounds to me like you're looking for a car with your heart as much with your head. There's nothing wrong with that, but you're head is telling you Catalina or something like that, and your heart is screaming T-Bird. Am I right so far? The only solution for you is to get the Bird. Sure, you may give up some performance or trunk space by not listening to your head, but if we made all our desicions based on logic, we'd be driving Toyota Camrys! Listen to that little voice that's shouting "GET A T-BIRD! GET A T-BIRD!" Otherwise, every time you see one drive by, you're gonna think "I coulda had a car like that! I wish I'd bought one when I had the chance!" Just make sure you get one with your eyes wide open, so you know what you're getting, and what your dream car can and cannot due. Don't delude yourself into thinking a T-Bird is a perfect car (no car is). Don't sell yourself on unrealistic promises, and I think you'll be happy.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    Good advise. You may always regret the fact that you didn't buy your car of choice.

    Reverb was called different things by the different car mfgs. ford called it Studio-Sonic sound.

    These were built by Motorola and pre-dated car stereo tape decks.

    They were called Vibrasonic.

    The unit mounted in the trunk and was controlled by a knob on the dash. It would delay the sound a tiny bit before it hit the rear speaker.

    This gave a wierd echo chamber effect that we all thought sounded cool!

    My '65 Riviera had a stock unit.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    My '67 GTO had that too, along with a factory AM/FM. Reverb gave the tinny radios of that day the depth they needed. I think the idea was to simulate the split-second delay you'd hear in a concert hall as the sound waves bounced off the walls.

    I have some early jazz recordings that were "enhanced" that way too--they sound like they were recorded in the men's room.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    "Wall of sound" recording in vibrasonic?

    The Ronettes "Walking in the rain" is a great example. Almost like double vibrasonic.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    the Righteous Brothers "You've lost that lovin' feelin" on the vibrasonic. One night cruising in my friend's new 65 GTO, I remember hearing it over and over, and that reverb radio definitely did that one good.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    They played that song to death on KRLA and KFWB, didn't they? carnut...haven't heard from you in awhile!
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    A car dealer friend of mine has a '64 T-Bird hardtop he bought for his 16 year old son (purchased more as a tank than as a classic ride). I asked if I could take it for a spin just to see how it drove. When I arrived, the battery was dead so I couldn't take it out. But, I sat in the seat and I can now honestly say that the T-Bird's reputation for having uncomfortable seats is well earned.

    This car didn't have power seats and thus could only be slid fore and aft manually. In 1964-65, only 4-way power seats were available (6-way seats weren't available until '66). I know 4-way includes fore/aft movement. But, don't know if this includes any type of reclining movement (ie., so that the entire seat tilts back). Does anybody know? If the other power movement is simply a vertical up/down then this wouldn't be much help.

    After sitting in this Thunderbird, I gotta say that a mid-60's Catalina/Bonneville/Grand Prix sounds pretty good right now. There's a nice '67 GP convertible for sale in my area, but it's not a #'s matching car (400 cid engine is out of a '73 Catalina) and he wants $16K. As usual, this seem rather high - though the rest of the car looks very nice and it has bucket seats and console w/automatic - plus, 8-lug wheels, A/C and a factory 8-track (big deal?).

    Any additional information as to what adjustments are typically included in a 4-way power seat movement would be appreciated.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    KRLA and KFWB were the big ones down where we grew up weren't they Isell! Oh, I'm on this site everyday, I just haven't said much for awhile. Sure do get a kick out of these postings though! I usually don't miss a day reading them. A friend of mine happens to have a real nice 65 Tbird-Red, 390, all original, etc. I thought those things were pigs myself, but it's a nice car, for $5500?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I wouldn't worry about a non-matching numbers engine in that car. The '73 400 is better for your purposes anyway. It's low compression and has hardened valve seats for unleaded gas. It's got some smog gear hung on it that you might be able to remove legally--exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and restricted ignition advance are the two main culprits. The 8-track is rare but of limited usefulness unless you saved your tapes.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    16,000 is a LOT of money, especially if it's been Mickey Moused up. sounds like seat comfort is very important to you. Cars of the sixties didn't exactly excel in that catagory.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I don't think the power seat included a recline, at least not on the driver's side. I'm pretty sure recline became an option on a lot of cars, but only on the passenger side.
  • The 67 Galaxie XL I have has the Thunderbird bucket seats in it. There is a way you can adjust the seatback angle on these seats.

    If you flop the seatback forward, look at the bottom of the seat. There is a bolt and a locknut. You can adjust the bolt in and out to set the seatback angle. Obviously, it can only set while the car is not moving.

    It does nothing for the seat bottom, however.
  • 65bird65bird Posts: 1
    I own a 65 T-Bird Hardtop with the 4 way power drivers seat - fore/aft and up/down are the only adjustments. There is no power adjustment for seat or backrest angle. As previously mentioned, the backrest angle can be adjusted manually although I find the range of adjustment fairly limited. Seat comfort is less than ideal in the front.

    The car makes a reasonably good straight line cruiser with a relatively smooth if not a bit wallowy ride. I have a reprint of the original Ford features and specifications manual for the '65. It lists a staggering curb weight of 4650 lbs for the hardtop and 4768 lbs for the convertible. According to the manual, its a unibody. Turns at even moderate speeds make the tires howl - it's definitely not built for handling.

    Mine has 93k miles on it and other than some recent brake work (new calipers and brake hoses) I haven't had any major problems in the last 3 years. All accessories (including the clock and trunk release) still work. It is important to note that it does not have power windows or vacuum locks. I have heard that these can be quite problematic. Build quality is pretty good for the 60's -it is still relatively free of squeaks and rattles.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    That remote trunk release was a rare option yet it doesn't have power doors or windows.

    I've only seen a couple without the windows and locks and it seems to me that at least half I've seen had air conditioning.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    Hard to find on a '65 T-Bird included a reclining passenger seat. You could spot these because they had a adjustable headrest.

    Power vent windows.

    AM-FM radio...not stereo.

    Ultra rare, cruise control...I've seen one.

    Couple of other things now I can't remember.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I know they pushed it in ads quite a bit on the 66, the switches were on the (newly redesigned) steering wheel. I would think a luxury car like this would be easy to find w/cruise. Maybe the 65s didn't push it. I don't think I've seen too many power vents. What about power passenger seat, was that even offered back then? I think 66 was the first t-bird to offer 8-track, anyone seen one?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,809
    It was rare on all cars back then.

    On the 65's the control was mounted on the center console. No power passenger seats.

    And, yes, 8 tracks were an option on the '66 T-Birds and were fairly common. Funny thing was with the 8 track you only got an AM radio.

    Another thing I remember, the 64 and 65's looked SO much better with the rear fender skirts removed! Most people pulled them right away and dramatically improved the looks of the car.

    To do it right, it was necessary to take a wrench and remove the attaching pegs.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    Do t-birds of this vintage typically rust badly?
  • On some car you set the speed on a thumb wheel and then pressed a button to engage it. My Grandfather had one on one of his Imperials in the 60's. He took great joy in setting it at 40 and then dialing in 70, the secondaries would kick open and the car would take off like a scalded cat.
  • vic19vic19 Posts: 56
    My parents bought new 64 Bird for me on my 16th birthday. It was a great car. It weighed maybe 5,000 pounds, and sat on these skinny bias ply tires. I didn't know any better so I wasn't bothered by it's handling. It was a very solid car.

    The only thing that drove me nuts was it's single piston air conditioner compressor. The thing would vibrate the entire car. You could tighten the belt but the vibration would return in a couple of days.

    I remember that everything from the air conditioner to the rear vent was controlled by air pressure. I can't imagine having a 35 year old car with plastic lines running all over the place controlling everything.

    But all in all, the Bird is one of the few cars that I owned that I wish that I had kept.
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