Down On The Mile High Street: 1966 Ford Thunderbird

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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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.

  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?
  • Kelley It's about time! I was so discouraged to see those poor Chevy Bolts stuck at the charging station receiving level 2 speeds after 80%, it was ridiculous. It would be nice if EA would had more level 2 chargers, also, at the same locations for people to top off above 80% on the fast chargers.
  • Tane94 Carmela Harris is supportive of EV adoption, so government incentives will be continuing under her watch.