By on December 16, 2014

05 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA perfectly restored example of a 1964-66 Ford Thunderbird is worth plenty. A beat-up example, even a non-rusty California car, on the other hand… well, it’s one of those cases where you can start with a thousand-dollar car, apply 15 grand to get it into pretty nice shape, and end up with a car worth $9,500. This cruel math is the reason that today’s Junkyard Find was spotted at a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard a few weeks back.
22 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe body is rough (though not rusty) and the interior smells like a mixture of mildew and Porta-Potty, but this car still has much to offer someone restoring a nicer T-Bird.
06 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow this is a proper landau roof!
11 - 1965 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMy ideal car interior would combine mid-60s Thunderbird and mid-80s Subaru XT controls. Throw in some early-90s Chrysler Whorehouse Red velour and it would be perfect.

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84 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1965 Ford Thunderbird Landau...”


  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    I would have at least snagged the taillights to put in an early Maverick!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I too am surprised to see this car in a junkyard, what a shame

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      Well previous owner started restoring (engine bay is painted) but its always cheaper to buy the completed car. The body parts are worth it to someone from the rustbelt, or for accident repair. Would be a real shame to not get most of those metal part recycled.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I can see the smell on this thing. If you were there to peruse it in person, you would be like “Hrmmmm….yeah.”

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      As an early 60’s T-bird owner, I can confirm that Murilee’s opening statement about the math on these is correct. Really nice examples with special options can fetch some dough, but the run of the mill Landaus with the regular 390 4bbl just aren’t worth a full resto if they’re in rough shape. Enough survive in decent shape to buy a decent driver for well under 10k in just about any part of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Another casualty of our economic ‘recovery’ that ain’t.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    First year for the disk brakes.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    What was cool in ’65 seems positively Olympian today. I so love mid-60’s Ford interiors. I remember seeing one of these Birds for the first time and being wow-ed by the sequential turn signals.

    In 1965 every kid *knew* we led the world in everything important.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      That curved rear seat just oozed luxury. I remember it being a big deal then

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        Yep, this stuff was dreamy in ways that no one of later generations can ever grasp. All gone now.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Those vents on the rear deck were part of the “flow-through ventilation” system. I remember a commercial that showed four elegantly dressed people puffing away ins1de the car and all the smoke coming out of the vents just outs1de the rear window… ew

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            How cool.. I must’ve missed those commercials. Now must search internet… I wanna see ’em.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Right here…

            https://www.you tube.com/watch?v=wHGa2D5e5Ac

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Thanks, I’ve been distracted by work. Hate it when that happens.

          • 0 avatar
            Crabspirits

            The first thing that pops into my head reading that is how investigators solved the crash of JAL 123.

            They found streaks of tobacco residue from this “flow-through ventalation” ventilating out of the cracks from the poorly repaired aft pressure bulkhead.

            Ew.

          • 0 avatar
            fincar1

            If you’ve ever had to clean the interior of a car whose previous owner smoked, you know that the water comes away brown instead of gray, and that a lot of that tar is hard to get off interior surfaces. Ech!

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            Cool ad. I never realized the steering wheel could slide aside for easy entry.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The interior on these reminds me of the Dual-Ghia that Dean Martin drove in the Matt Helm movies. Or this one.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/07/dinos-sex-wagon-i-kid-you-not/

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Cool Flair Bird. I’m partial to the ’61-’63 Bullet models myself, but these still had class.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, LOVE the Bullet Bird!

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      There is a car dealer here in town that specializes in selling vintage cars; apparently some famous people have been here to purchase from him. Mostly 50s and later, though they also had a partly restored VW Bettle painted up as Herbie and an occassional muscle car.

      Anyway, they have been having a bullet bird on their lot for some time now; hardtop in white. I don’t think the mid-sixties birds sell all that well once fixed up; a 1960 Bird he also had at the same time did not stay there long.

      A few weeks ago, I made a paper model of this one for my lineup; though I choose the pale green instead of blue. So it looked oddly familiar and sad when I saw it in my inbox this morning.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    Man, this bring back memories of cruisin with pops in his 65 Galaxie 500 convertible. Matching sunglasses, (mine were just a little too big, but could care less),top down, radio cranked, Camel hangin’ out of the side of pops mouth. Those were the days.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    Man, this brings back memories of cruisin in pops 65 Galaxie 500 convertible. Matching sunglasses (mine were too big but could care less), top down, radio cranked, cruising the parkway.
    Those were the days.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Wow, a woodgrain steering column?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    A good friend of my father’s had a nearly identical T-bird he began restoring in 1991 and I last saw in 2009 when it was quickly sold. He painted it an odd purple-blue color and had the landau roof redone with new material. The interior was much more glamorous though, with chrome wrapping all around you on the dash. He put in new white faux? leather buckets but kept the original rear leather seat. I was told a police 409 was added later to replace the factory one but in all those years I never asked to check under the hood to verify this. I was told it was built in Indiana in the summer of 1965 and eventually made its way to the west coast. It was purchased by a wholesaler who went by Texas Jim (seriously) in 1990 and trucked back east. Evidently it had found its way to the ‘hood and a bullet hole was found in the rear sheetmetal (and may have cracked one of the rear windows I can’t remember). Evidently this friend of our family lied to his wife and spent that month’s mortgage payment on a downpayment because he felt the car was special, as he spent ten years restoring it. This car was both special and odd to me, it seemed to always be in the background of some of the more pivotal moments of my life and yet I was afraid of it in a way. This car was simply art on wheels in its final configuration, it was symbolic of everything of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Nice story. It shared a platform with the equally odd and legendary Lincoln Continental of that era

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        …and both the Continental and the ’61-’63 T-bird were the work of Elwood Engel, who went to Chrysler shortly thereafter. Here’s one of Engel’s first Chryslers:
        http://deansgarage.com/wp-content/uploads/CTCfront34.jpg

        Lots of Bullet Bird and Continental in that design.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Oh, yes the Turbine

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The Continental was Engel, the T-bird wasn’t.

          The Bullet bird was designed by Alex Tremulis, Engel’s Conti design competed with it to be the ’61 Bird.

          Robert McNamara saw Engel’s design, liked it and it was approved for production as the Continental.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            The ’61 Conti was so much T-Bird that it even had the same headlights

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Very similar cars mechanically, built in the same plant etc.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Wait a minute, Calvin. Wasn’t your dad a GM exec? Did he know you were gonzo on Fords?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Huh, what? Whaddeye say?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Ahhh…thanks for the correction, Danio.

            I do think there’s a lot of Engel’s design language in the ’62 T-Bird, though. Look at the slab sides, the chrome strip running the full length of the car from front to back over a creased fender, and the understated style. That’s all stuff that shows up on many Engel designs, including the Chrysler Turbine, which looks almost exactly like a bullet Bird aside from the front and rear treatments.

            And look at Engel’s original T-bird design, which became the Continental. That roof shows up on the bullet Bird (and the Turbine) too.

            http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GRsTZDMFJbg/TZLATKiVnGI/AAAAAAAAAD0/gqC0ThuWrzE/s1600/1958_Ford_Thunderbird_clay_Engel.jpg

            If Engel didn’t do the T-Bird, I bet he had a lot of input into it.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Thanks for the info, Danio…I bet Engel had a lot of input into the T-bird, though. A lot of his design signatures – the slab sides, the chrome bar running along the fenders the entire length of the car, and the general understated shape – are in that ’62 Thunderbird. Even the roofline from the car that became the Continental shows up in the ’62 as well.

            http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GRsTZDMFJbg/TZLATKiVnGI/AAAAAAAAAD0/gqC0ThuWrzE/s1600/1958_Ford_Thunderbird_clay_Engel.jpg

            And when you leave off the front and back end treatments of the Chrysler Turbine, it looks a LOT…like a ’62 t-bird.

            I bet Engel had a LOT of input into that design.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Thanks for that info, Danio…I do see a lot of Engel’s design language in the ’62 T-bird, though, so I bet he had a lot of input.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…chrome wrapping all around you on the dash…”

      28, I bet you that was a 1961-63 “Bullet Bird”. The series in this article didn’t have that piece of interior styling.

      http://okcarclub.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/dntwncfyvl7719.jpg

      If that was the case, then I totally get the slavish love and devotion. For my money, one of the best looking American cars ever.

      http://barrettjackson.com/staging/carlist/items/Fullsize/Cars/49564/49564_Front_3-4_Web.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Perhaps, but I was always told it was a ’65 and it looks identical to the one in the article (I wish I had taken a picture!). It would not have been beyond this gentlemen to have swapped in a different interior as well, assuming they were compatible between all the model years. After looking at your photo, I realize his car had those round chrome gauges (oil/gas) below the speedo in the center console as shown in Murliee’s pics, but it also had that “bullet” chrome around the dash. So I’m going to assume Don swapped parts of 61-63 interior into his, or perhaps dash parts of a ’65 into a ’61-63. I’m not sure which year the second pic is of, but if that’s a ’61-63 this one was most definitely a later model as his hood and front end were both longer and flatter than the rounded ones shown at Barret Jackson.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Ryan had a paradigm shift.

    Ryan, aka “T-bird”, stepped off the ramp of the C17. “God, it’s so good to be back.”, he thought in a daydreamy state. Now that he was “Out of the sh^t” so to speak, he could feel free to space out again and let his lip hang down. Soon he would be engaged in friendly fisticuffs with his younger brother. Soon, he would be back in the arms of his family and friends. Soon, he would resume building the T-bird.

    Ryan slept the entire ride home. It was the best sleep he had in a long time. “Ryan.”, his brother said while shaking him awake, “Ryan, we’re home.” Ryan scrunched himself back up in his seat, and rubbed off the impression of Mustang door on his cheek. There it was. Dimly lit by the motion lights, and glazed in the surface tension of the rainwater on it’s expansive flat surfaces, the T-bird was everything he remembered it to be for the past six months. “Yeah yeah, that’s your POS. Come inside.”

    The bottle of Jack was working it’s magic. “Man! I can’t wait to get the Thunderbird out on the road.” His family and buds looked at each other with wry smiles, as if saying jointly “Wellll, I guess.” It was the same vacant expression the Afghan nationals gave him after getting high, and listening to the American soldier drone on and on about what must be a coveted ancient Native American artifact. These “T-birds” must only be bestowed to the finest warriors, they would think before haphazardly walking out on patrol.

    Ryan chased some ibuprofen with a glass of water, and walked out the front door to rekindle his relationship with his cherished automobile. He stood face to face with the Ford.
    “What…a…sh*tpiece.”, he said. A startled bird flew away from a puddle nearby. Ryan sank his hands into his pockets, as if slamming shut safety valves to stop the flow of his new-found wealth from Uncle Sam. He lifted the hood, and it let out a dismal groan. The empty bay still shined in Por15, ready to receive the V8 in the garage that needed a new everything. Ryan thumbed the chrome button and pulled open the door. “Woof.” He looked at the wood trim on the dash, flaking off like bark on a mesquite tree. His mouth hung low in confusion. “Was it really always this bad?”, he wondered.

    Ryan called up one of his pals.
    “Yeah man, I’m back.
    Okay, I’ll roll on over there.
    No, not the T-bird. That car is crushed.
    Yeah, really.
    FR-S.
    See you in a little bit.”

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Yes, but you forgot mentioning the T-bird’s crowning glory, as touted by their marketeers and the first sign of real post modern society : “genuine simulated wire wheels”

      With a feature like that, fantasy finally became reality.

  • avatar
    skor

    “well, it’s one of those cases where you can start with a thousand-dollar car, apply 15 grand to get it into pretty nice shape, and end up with a car worth $9,500.”

    That’s been pretty much the case with all restoration projects until Barret-Jackson managed to convince the rubes…er, collectors that Ford Falcons are worth $20K.

    Car restoration was traditionally a hobby. A leisurely pursuit taken up for fun and not for profit. Other options for leisure, combined with a disappearing middle class, means you’re gonna see more restoreable old cars in the scrap yard, waiting to be crushed and shipped to China to be made into oxygen bottle holders for Murica’s Depends® set.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Murilee writes: “Now this is a proper landau roof!”

    Well, a proper fake landau roof, anyway. A real one would open, and those Landau bars would be functional.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Thelma and Louise!

    (yeah, I know it was a convertible, but still…)

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Well at least someone decided the 390 would be worth something.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    This generation of Thunderbird had one of the most beautiful instrument panels, heck, entire interior I’ve seen in cars. Can’t tell so much from this example, but if you’ve never seen the interior of a 1964-66 Thunderbird in good condition, you should try. Truly a tasteful, beautiful piece of work. Unbelievable how crappy their interiors got in subsequent generations, but you could say the same about a lot of cars.

    Someone went nuts with the contact paper on this one, or at least I’ve never seen one of this generation with that type of wood veneer trim inside.

    • 0 avatar
      jbltg

      This was a high-water mark for this model and car interiors of the day in general. I was quite young when it was new, and remember it well. Reflected very much the fascination with the blooming jet-age and space-age technology of the day.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’d resto-mod, rat-rod, whatever the heck out of this and daily-drive it. And to all the haters I’d encounter, my response would be, “It’s still on the road isn’t it?”

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Landau Ballet!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You have to choose wisely. It’s sad to see an old girl meet her end but many simply bite off more than they can chew. Unless it was Dad’s/Mom’s first car or something like that, gotta let her go. Perhaps the restorer passed away. Either way, I am sure those parts are worth something on ebay.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The ‘landau top’ had to be a stoner thought. …hmmmm???

    To me it’s not worth it to restore most anything unless you’re ready to lose your A$$.

    I had the similar experience with a ’72 Mustang Grande I was hording. Hardly collectible. It was a landau too. Until my high school age, nephew spotted it and had to have it. So I gave it to him gratis. It was a good runner in with similar wear/miles as the T-bird above. AZ car with the 351C, FMX, Edelbrock intake/carb, Dougs Headers/duals/Flowmasters, limited slip. Nice!

    I said to him, “enjoy the car ‘asis’ and you’ll have a blast”. Absolutely! But he wanted to go the full resto route. And I had a blast helping, but once it started costing some real money, his dad got out the checkbook and eventually took over the whole project. Big money!

    Now it’s a fully restored beauty. Show car no less. But now my nephew has very limited access. Too big an investment. For “special” occasions only.

    “Had” limited access. He got caught smoking the good stuff and game over. His dad has it in storage and looking for a buyer, so he can fund my nephew’s college. I’ll have to buy it, enjoy it, and give it back to my nephew when he graduates college.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Ahh the cool, bad influence uncle. Everyone should have one.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Wish I had one. I do have two uncles who own Corvettes though, on different sides of the family.

        The one uncle has a ’68 Stingray that I’ve gotten to see…ONCE. People who have awesome classic cars and won’t even put them out on the driveway or the lawn in the summertime for people to admire annoy me.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I don’t have a cool bad influence uncle, but I do have two uncles with Corvettes, one on each side of the family…uncle on mom’s side has a ’68 Stingray I’ve gotten to see ONCE. He’s got a ton of property and lives right near a fairly large car show that happens every year, least he can do is let me see his car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Restoring that old Mustang was a labor of love, but you are correct you are not likely to recover your investment. I restored an old IH pickup that was my granddad’s it was like new but I sold it and didn’t get anywhere near what I put in it. I wished I would have kept it but I would never do another restoration. Growing up I always loved these older T-Birds especially the 55 thru 57 which were 2 seaters. I also really liked the 63 Rivera, 63 Grand Prix, 63 and 64 2 and 4 door Ford Galaxy XLT with the front bucket seats and consul (that model had lines in the top that made it look like a convertible). The early Mustangs, early Camaros, early Challengers, 66-67 GTOs and 442s, Cougars, Marauders, 61 thru 69 Continentals, and the early 60’s Chevy Impala SSs. I understand why this T Bird was not restored but they were beautiful cars.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        My former boss and close friend owns one of the rarest TBirds available today, a 57 Model E. The model E came with a removeable hard top (actually I think that was standard equipment for 57), 290ish horse Mercury 312 with factory twin 4 barrel carbs, and a standard transmission. He has a 30,000 sq ft fab shop and when I was still working there he brought it in one winter and we completely stripped it down to the frame on our slow days. I sand blasted and painted the frame. Then we built a rotissouri and mounted the body to it and I walnut shell blasted the body inside and out (interior was stripped as well) and sprayed 2 good coats of primer on it and he sent it off to a reputable classic car restoration company in the area. Meanwhile, we began piecing the chassis back together using all new components. Steering, suspension, bushings, nothing used got reinstalled on that chassis. After confirming good compression and the engine was in good health, we stripped it down and acid dipped the block and had it powder coated. Then reassembled with new bearings, rings, oil pump and all new seals and rebuilt the carbs. Factory wheels were sent in and refinished and he bought new white wall tires but went with radials rather than bias ply. It sat as a rolling chassis for close to 2 years while the body shop had it as my boss had a deal worked out with the owner and they basically worked on it in their spare time. That’s how it sat when I left for my current job, and he recently got the body sat back on it and is piecing the interior together. He has been very particular about what he puts on this car and uses original factory parts whenever possible. Last we spoke about his budget, he had over $40k invested, and that’s with him,his son and I doing the vast majority of the work. It will be a beautiful example of an early american sports car when its finally completed and its been a real pleasure and experience being involved in the project. And the best part,he’s going to throw the keys at me for a night out with the wife when its all together.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I rode to high school every morning (1983-84) of senior year in my friend Peter’s black ’65 T-bird with a 390. What a cool car. Did a fair amount of cruising in it as well. It will forever have a soft spot in my heart as a result.

  • avatar
    jgcaulder

    My Dad had one of these that he received in a trade with a friend back in 1975, a year before I was born. My sister drove it some here and there to high school in the eighties, and I drove it some during the nineties when one of my craptastic cars was in need of attention. I was always approached by strangers at gas stations looking to buy or just admiring. It was all white with a hard top and red interior. My Dad had put Crager wire wheels on it back in the day. He finally parted ways with it in 2001 due to not wanting to put any more money into it. What a great car. I miss the car, and I miss him too. Seeing this post made me think of him.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Big old Ford boat that doesn’t do it for me but it’d be nice for someone in Michigan who’s intact but rusted out ‘Bird could get an easier & cheaper new life .

    It really looks too solid to be scrapped .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Beautiful cars the old T Birds. I know a couple of people that had these one being a 64 silver convertible with blue leather that was restored and another one that was a hardtop all black with black leather interior in college that had been a student’s father’s car and after college he sold it which was a huge mistake because it was cherry. The 70’s spelled the complete downfall of the Birds. These older T Birds were at the top of their game and we will never see the likes of them again. I hope that someone gets the rest of these parts before it hits the crusher.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    .
    ” If you’ve ever had to clean the interior of a car whose previous owner smoked, you know that the water comes away brown instead of gray, and that a lot of that tar is hard to get off interior surfaces. Ech!”

    Meguiar’s # 40 is what you need ~ I discovered this amazing stuff when I began working for L.A.P.D. ~ it not only softens up the decades old puke , blood and smoke stains , after you mist it and let it soak in , use a soft bristle brush to work the crud loose then wipe off with a clean cloth , use another soft , clean cloth to gently buff the upholstery/ headliner / leather / plastic and apart from the cigarette burns and cracks , everything actually looks new again ~ you have to try this stuff to believe it , I now buy a gallon jug every couple years and fill quart spray bottles with it .

    Works on plastic and leather , bakelite too .’

    -Nate

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Not as interesting as the later 4-door Thunderbird.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      The 4 door Thunderbirds were about as memorable as the 4 door Grand Prix, not in the same league as the early models and easy to forget. I had a college professor back in the 70s that had a 4 door Thunderbird which is the only one I remember seeing. Another one crushed and sent to China to make another cheap appliance.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I like them because A) a Thunderbird is supposed to have two doors and everyone knows this, and B) because they are very uncommon, and C) they are unloved which probably means a good used classic value.

        I also like the way they look. http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IMG_1515.jpg

        Combines the look of the 66 Toronado plus sedan plus Lincoln. Win.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    True a 4 door T-Bird is rare and would be a conversation piece. I have only seen one and that was over 40 years ago. Maybe Murilee can find one and take some pictures.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    O/T, but no Panther fanatic having conniptions about the classic-looking “Black Car” Townie over to the left of the ‘Bird?!

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    10-4 on T-Bird economics. Almost cheaper to buy three at $1,000 each, and mix and match until you have one $6,000 bird.
    Best deals from the ’60’s now seem to be Buick/Olds hardtop sedans and maybe an inline six B-pillar Impala or Chevelle, but then only because they’re going to be the next big thing.

  • avatar

    Bings back memories when America actually had decent auto and space industry. Everything stinks today……..

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