Down On The Mile High Street: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
down on the mile high street 1966 ford thunderbird

Here’s a car that I’ve been seeing in my neighborhood for a year now; on a busy street that makes photography tough, it kept getting sort of overlooked by me when I went out hunting cars with camera in hand. Yesterday, however, I decided that a 45-year-old, 4,400-pound personal luxury coupe that still survives on the street deserves to be admired.

Thunderbirds of the middle 1960s sometimes get overlooked; not quite as swoopy and/or sporty as their predecessors, yet not as absurdly, bloattastically Malaise-ified as the T-Birds that grunted off Dearborn’s assembly lines in the following decade.

This one isn’t quite perfect, but it appears to be a good solid rust-free survivor.

A 275-horsepower 390 was the standard engine for 1966, but optional powerplant choices included 410- and 425-horse 427s (dual-quad carburetors on the latter), plus a 345-horsepower 428. Sadly, a manual transmission wasn’t an option.

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  • Thrashette Thrashette on Jun 08, 2011

    Crazy! My dad drove this EXACT model when I was growing up, except in bright red with a black top. It always smelled like old leather and gasoline, and for some reason the passenger seat was in the basement, not in the car. I got made fun of sooo much by my peers about this car because it was "so old" (I grew up in the 90s... still--crazy kids!). I guess I hated this car at the time, but it hindsight, it was damn sexy. I remember sitting on my dad's lap as a toddler, steering it down the dirt road. I miss the raucous "CLICK" noise of the old seatbelts, stale scent of old leather, the menacing, growling, most-likely malfunctioning roar the engine produced... After breaking down one last time on a one-lane bridge, my dad wound up selling this beauty to some farmer. I also remember this as the day I bought my first Pokemon game... now I am rambling. :) Great car. I'm glad you featured it.

  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Jun 11, 2011

    About 2-3 years ago, there were 2 vintage classics that used to park near my apartment, one a 64-65 Riviera and a 64-66 T-Bird. Both were fully restored with the Riv being turquoise in color, the T-Bird being this very color but don't recall if it had a vinyl top and I don't think it had this massive C pillar either so it might've been either the 64-65 model instead and both totally stock too. Sadly, they kept getting hit with parking tickets for staying in one place too long (can't leave your car sitting for more than 72 Hrs in one spot or a ticket will be placed under your wiper) and this was done to hopefully avoid abandoned vehicles and give the city leverage to haul cars off if left on the streets too long. One day, they disappeared and I don't recall if they got the dreaded orange notice plastered to the windshield saying the cars will be towed if not moved so don't know if the owners dealt with them appropriately or they were simply towed away.

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.