1965 Ford Thunderbird Convertible - $37,900
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  • Overview & History
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As a lifetime California car, obviously rust was a non-issue and this T-Bird proudly wears all its original bodywork.

Thunderbirds have always been popular, but it’s interesting to watch the demographic shift recently, which reinforces Ford’s idea to build bigger, more luxurious ‘Birds. The 4-seat T-Birds, particularly those built in the 1960s, are extremely popular right now and offer big car comfort with the styling and performance that made the Thunderbird a legend. Significantly, the Thunderbird received a host of improvements in 1965, most notably power front disc brakes, neatly rectifying one of the car’s shortcomings. It retained the same 300 horsepower 390 cubic inch V8, the same aircraft-inspired cockpit, and the same dramatic styling, all of which make this 1965 Thunderbird convertible a superlative road car. If you like to drive, this is a fantastic summertime cruiser.

This ‘Bird was originally sold by Ralph Williams Ford in Encino, California, and it remained in California until the early 2000s when it moved all the way to the northeast—Toronto, Ontario Canada. There it was treated to a very high-quality restoration that included fresh paint and chrome, rebuilt engine and transmission, new interior and top, and a rebuilt suspension. These are unit-body cars, so calling it a frame-off isn’t really appropriate, but the crispness and quality of the work is evident everywhere you look. This is a VERY nice car. It was refinished in its original code Q Brittany Blue, which is a handsome medium blue with just a hint of metallic in it, which really makes it glow in the sun. As a lifetime California car, obviously rust was a non-issue (we have restoration photos showing the car inside and out during the process) and this T-Bird proudly wears all its original bodywork. Panel alignment needs to be right on these cars, given the way the trim and body lines travel from nose to tail, and the heavy doors close with reassuring solidity. Most of the chrome was restored, so the bumpers, side trim, and taillight surrounds are in excellent condition, and the ‘Thunderbird’ emblems are crisply rendered. And yes, the sequential taillights are fully operational, don’t worry.

Code 22 is a two-tone vinyl bucket seat interior which has been likewise fully restored. There’s a little extra padding in the front seats to give them a bit more support and we like the highly-detailed look it adds, and the wrap-around back seat is perhaps the coolest ever installed in a ragtop. Options include factory A/C (blows cold), power windows, power driver’s seat, remote driver’s mirror, power antenna, an AM/FM radio, and the “Safety Convenience Control Panel,” which is that array of cool little warning lights in the center of the dash plus power door locks. The gauges are all operational as well, with a ribbon-style speedometer and cool little needles that sweep across the auxiliary gauges’ faces when you hit the ignition. Ford’s swing-away steering column was standard equipment, and if you’ve had a Thunderbird you know they can be fussy if they’re not aligned just right, but this one is better than most. Perhaps most critically, the complex convertible top works properly and features a fresh vinyl top and rear window, all of which stow themselves under the rear deck in a remarkable mechanical ballet. The trunk, when it’s not full of convertible top, is correctly finished with plaid mats and a brand new spare tire assembly, plus the factory jack stored in the quarter panel.

The Z-code 390 cubic inch V8 was standard equipment in the Thunderbird since 1961, and it provides the kind of smooth, effortless torque that you expect from a full-sized luxury cruiser like this. Rebuilt to stock specs, it starts easily, idles smoothly, and pulls all 4000 pounds of Thunderbird around without working very hard. It also makes great V8 sounds, soft but muscular, which is appropriate. The engine bay is very nicely detailed with gold tinwork, correct reproduction decals, and even tower hose clamps for a period-perfect look. No bad habits, no asterisks, no excuses, this is a car where you just turn the key and go have fun. You can see evidence of the car’s California history in the engine bay where the firewall and inner fenders are in remarkable condition with all their original spot welds and seams fully visible. The A/C has been upgraded to R134a refrigerant, so it’ll be easy to service in the future, but beyond that it remains pretty much the way Ford designed it.

The undercarriage is, as you’d expect, in fantastic condition. Living in California means that a unit-body car like this doesn’t have to worry about structural issues and all the factory reinforcements are in excellent shape. There’s a light dusting of undercoating on the floors, but nothing is hidden and there’s zero evidence of rust repair or panel replacement. The Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission shifts well and works best if you use the “green dot” position, which helps performance in a notable way. 3.00 gears out back mean that this is a fantastic high-speed cruiser, designed to consume miles of pavement in a single shot. New shocks all around, a rebuilt front suspension, front disc brakes, and a recent exhaust system round out the upgrades. 15-inch wheels were standard for the first time (to clear the disc brakes) and those awesome 215/75/15 Diamondback radials feature both a traditional whitewall and a red stripe, just as it specifies on the original window sticker (a $43.90 option). Too cool!

Documentation is extensive, including the aforementioned factory window sticker, owner’s manual, shop manual, restoration photos, and receipts.

Make no mistake, these Thunderbirds are the next big thing, and prices are moving in a way that you can see from month-to-month. This lovely blue ‘Bird has been restored at a cost that’s probably twice, maybe three times the asking price, making it a fantastic value for the guy looking to just get in and enjoy. Add in the awesome color combination, long list of factory options, and nice documentation package, and you get a car that will be a favorite for years to come. Call today!

Vehicle: 1965 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
Price: $37,900
Stock Number: 116016
Mileage: 86,639
VIN: 5Y85Z145771
Engine: 390 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3
Wheelbase: 113.2 inches
Wheels: 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 215/75/15 whitewall radial
Exterior Color: Brittney Blue
Interior Color: Blue vinyl
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