Hagerty.com

The 1964–66 Thunderbird is the ugly duckling of the family

I don’t care about the values (perceived or otherwise)…my dream Thunderbird is a '66 convertible with the tonneau cover! Those full length tailights! That sleek descent from the tonneau headrest to the edge of the trunk!!! I’m in LUST!!! :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Ugly duckling??? Seriously??? IMHO these were absolutely beautiful and my favorite! Hoping to have one someday!

1 Like

I have a 64 Landau. It was my father’s. Not my first choice in vehicles, but I really like the uniqueness. At the time it was Ford’s top of the line model. It didn’t share components with any other model and was built in Wixom, Mi along side the Lincolns. The 5th gen and up were built on full size or LTD chassis. Then became reskined LTD II’s, fox chassis and so on. The unfortunate part of the uniqueness is limited amounts of aftermarket parts. The cool part is when driving it, I always get the thumbs up and people saying “Wow an old Thunderbird!”

I had been “on the fence” about selling my 1965 Thunderbird Convertible for about two years before I sold it last fall. My sense is that prices actually improved over that period - nothing astronomical, but asking prices were definitely 10% - 15% higher last year than when I started watching closely. The Thunderbird isn’t a car you buy because you want to make money, but because it is special to you. A prime example is that my car was bought by a fellow who had previously owned the same color, year and model Thunderbird twice before - as a youth, midlife - and now retirement.

Somewhere I read that these are considered the last “real” T-Birds, likely because aslinken81tc says, they were the last on a unique platform. One could also argue for 67-71 being the end of the real Thunderbirds since they at least had their own size and very unique bodywork. Anything after 71 is clearly a close cousin of mainline Fords.
Call them “ugly” but I think these 64-67 'Birds will be desired long after the 70s-90s cars are forgotten. Now I love the latter T-Birds, but I see then as an acquired taste. They just didn’t impact the car world the way the first 11 years did.

The title of this article is baloney.
Nothing ugly I can see. You wanna talk thugly…2019 Camero

Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I see the '58-'60 as the ugly duckling, at least until the 1970 model. lol.

There’s no doubt that these T-Birds are gorgeous cars. Problem is, they were, back in the day, more of a very fashionable ladies car, which has hurt their image for collectors who need to project their masculinity more than their individuality or refinement.

A favorite T- bird trivia question ? Did Ford ever offer a 4 door version ? Yes, one year only . Rare no doubt. . Value ? could beat the early ugly bird as well . Which one in your garage ??

Indeed I think they are quite stylish with the chiseled grille leading down the swooping sides and seamlessly integrating into the rectangular tail section. Dodge did this is reverse with the Charger and it was a hit why not this TBird too ? BUT it needs modern running gear to get the mpg up around 25 ( maybe less thickness on the metal ) and you’ll have a real winner.

The Oldsmobile Toronado stole the “thunder” in 1966. It was so revolutionary in bold style and engineering. A truly groundbreaking automobile. The T-birds, by comparison, never brought much to the table, other than that left-over Perry Mason-era swagger, revisited year after year.
The sporty second car in the Lincoln Continental household. A chic four-wheeled fashion statement that sadly can’t find home in a tattooed, blue jean, tank-top world.

Once I was competing against a Powder Blue 66 convertible at a car show. My Madiera Maroon 67 Camaro Coupe had just recently come out of the body shop. I thought for sure the T-Bird would take 1st in our class. I was blown away when I took 1st place and the T-Bird didn’t even place. I soon learned the redder the car the better it placed in the car shows. So i guess it was the color that turned off the Judges. Any time I show against a Bright Red car I know which car will place first, usually not mine.

I grew up with T-Birds. My neighbor would drive me to school in her pink 1957 Bird. When parents divorced Moms boyfriend had a new 1960 Bird convertible. Then parents bought new 1963 & 1966 Bird’s.
I currently have a 1966 T-Bird conv., insured with Hagarty for $55,000, spent $65,000 to make it a daily driver. It is the only factory yellow 1966 conv. registered in Canada.
My 1966 Bird is a standard 390, has 315 hp, 427 torque. Not to bad for 1966.
The author does not have a clue about us T-Bird fans and our passion for our T-Birds. Doubt if the author ever drove a T-Bird back in the day like I did, nor experienced driving a restored T-Bird today.

When I take my yellow 1966 Bird conv. to car shows, people take pictures. Why are people fascinated with a flair Bird? Yet the author thinks 1964-66 Birds are ugly ducklings.

When I bought my 65 T-Bird in 1995 I was looking for a 63. Back then a 63 in similar condition cost twice as much as a 65. The rocket and square birds have always cost more than the flairs. Over time I have developed a greater appreciation for the flairs. In particular the aggressive front end design of the 64 and 65 and the sequential taillights that are separated like the 58 taillights. And, of course, I think the 64-66 interior is the best. Regarding the 63-65 Rivieras being worth twice as much today as the flair birds, this makes no sense. 64-66 flairs outsold 63-65 Rivieras by over 2 to 1. I guess popularity of a car when new doesn’t really factor into collectability - flairs outsold rocket and square birds as well. I love the design refinements of the 65 Riviera but to me the sleek design of the 64-66 T-Birds look much more jet age/futuristic.

Have always thought these are by far the best of the 'Birds. Would rather own this gen over the historic '55-'57’s, but that’s just me. Just hated they never came standard shift.

Well Hunt you opened up a can of worms. Desparaing comments about a Classic like the Flairbird based on pricing and how many you insure might be telling, so you aren’t the biggest insurer of this particular Classic car, so you might want to review the articles a little more closely before publishing or perhaps the earlier models are over insured perhaps? Just saying. (A 40 year insurance agent/broker.). Smile, there are better days ahead!

Clearly, this is Ford’s most dynamic looking interior, from the multi pod dash to the thermometer style speedometer. The bucket seats & rounded molded rear seats presents a total sports-personal luxury looking automobile. The unique look of the integrated rear chrome “bumper” presents an integrated streamline look unlike any car during it’s day or since.

The convertible really has the most striking appearance, especially with the top down, where it’s “low to the ground” profile really shows itself as a remarkable design concept for the early 1960’s. No car made can match the driving experience of the TBird convertible on the open road where it’s low profile & weight provide a great ride at speeds over 100 mph on the open highway.

The TBird body height is lower than my '69 Mustang convertible and virtually any other non-sports car that I’ve ever parked next to. The standard 390 cu / 300 hp block provides excellent reliable power & a 428 cu option in this models later years. The well dedigned aerodynamic massive heavy front chrome bumper & grill provide great front end stability from air flow at high speeds.

Since these TBirds have the same apparatus where the soft-top stores in a retractable trunk ( same as the 57-59 Ford Skyliner retractable HDTPs) the weight of the hydraulics and heavy framing in the trunk provides equal front-to-rear weight distribution. This is truly one of Ford’s great creations that began with the 1955 T-Bird & ran into the Mid 1960s and included the various TBirds, Lincolns, Galaxie 500, & Mustangs.

Along with my red 64 Tbird Conv, I also have a white 69 Mustang conv, & a red 1963 Galaxie 500 XL (2dr HDTP). I also liked the 64 TBird conv so much that a few years after I bought it, I bought a blue 65 TBIRD conv. I’ve now owned & enjoyed these cars for over 40 years.

Over the past dozen years or so, I’ve also purchased a burgundy 2004 “Ford retro” TBird 2 seat conv w/ removable hdpt & a 2005 Chrysler CrossFire SRT Conv. with a rare supercharged AMG engine. Cars that are fun to drive & great to admire.

Since I’ve had my 64 TBird Conv for so long & had people go out of their way to view & ask about it wherever I go, including ocean resorts where many other older cars appear in great numbers, it truly makes me wonder what the author of this article was smoking when writing this article!

Hi all. Couldn’t agree more with what others are saying in response to the Hagerty article. Ugly duckling? Tell that to the people who flock to see the car and give thumbs up as we drive by. Mine is a '64 and I’ve given up keeping track of the “flair ups”, they’ve been so plentiful.

The Flair Bird got its design cues from the 1962 Ford ITE XXI concept car which was designed by Alexander Tremulis, the same guy who worked for Duesenberg and who also designed the Tucker. His charge from Ford was to come up with a design for what cars would look like in the year 2000, and the Flair Birds do indeed look like the flying cars we were supposed to have by then. Sadly, what Ford actually gave us was the Taurus!

Did everyone forget what the story of the ugly duckling taught us?

They are not ugly at all to me. I think they are a pretty sharp car.