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Old 01-23-2012, 06:11 PM
NewBird13 NewBird13 is offline
Join Date: Jan 13 2012
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Default Hey everyone, Glad to be here.

Hey everyone.
I found this site about a month ago and have been loving all of the great advice. I just thought I would share how I came to be on this site.
A while back my fiancee was telling me how she wanted to drive away from our wedding in a classic car. I knew she was referring to renting one but I jokingly said how about you let me get a project and ill have it done on time for the wedding? My chin is still hurting from hitting the floor after she said " sure babe go ahead".
Collectively we started looking in the newspaper, craigslist, ebay and anywhere else you can think of for our wedding car. A few weeks ago day on Craigslist I found her," 1959 Ford Thunderbird project, with all parts." I was hooked and so was my fiancee.
I contacted the seller and it all sounded too good so I had to drive up and check it out.
While checking it out I had to try my best to hide my excitement (still wanted to haggle somewhat). The whole car was very solid with very few rust spots that need repair (trunk and front fender skirts) The engine hasnt started in 20 years but still spins. The interior is complete but needs to be redone. I ended up grabbing it for about half of what others birds in the same condition are going for.
The car gets here this week and I couldnt be more stoked! The plan of action to first get her mechanically sound then to get her looking pretty.
So many questions have gone through my head, keep it original or make it tweak it a bit? Keep the 352 go to a 390? Original color or black or red with the white top? Deal with the original drum brakes or do the disc brake conversion? How much do I want to let the machine shop do and how much do I think I can do?
Like I said I just wanted to say hello and thank everyone in advance because I am sure that I am going to have a barrage of questions and I know that I have found the mecca of T Bird knowledge.
Looking forward to it
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:04 PM
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Anders Anders is offline
Join Date: Jan 19 2008
Posts: 2,165
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The golden rule is: Build it the way YOU want it, so YOU enjoy it! In your case, your fiancee is included in "YOU"
For sure, our cars works great for weddings! This is from when my daughter got married
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_3962-1.jpg (65.4 KB, 81 views)
..."Lil darling Ruth"

Last edited by Anders : 01-23-2012 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:05 PM
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DKheld DKheld is offline
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Posts: 1,557
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Great story and glad you found the site. Hope the project is a real hit at the wedding and please take pics to show us. You do have a bunch of decisions to make but in the end it will be your car so make it like you want it.

You're right - there are plenty of helpful folks on this site - hope to hear more soon on the progress and post some pics of the car when you can.

registry 5347
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:40 PM
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Restifier52 Restifier52 is offline
Join Date: Jul 26 2011
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Welcome to the community! Be sure to look at the technical bulletins. They are great. My son will be getting married in about two years ( they haven't set the date yet, both still in school) and he asked me if they could use the car. I've got a lot of work to do this coming season.

Rick in Clarkston, MI
1960 HT
Thunderbird Registry #35780
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:43 PM
lawyercalif lawyercalif is offline
Join Date: May 12 2011
Posts: 240
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I hope your fiancÚ is a patient woman, because if you do all the things you mentioned the wedding could be a long way off. Have fun with this project but do not let it get you in trouble with the lady in your life.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:00 PM
Richard D. Hord Richard D. Hord is offline
Super-Experienced and Proud Kentuckian who bleeds Ford Blue.
Join Date: Dec 16 2008
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Hey Sean,
Welcome! Lawyercalif may be right There are so many awesome things that can be done to these old Birds to get them up to date (If you plan on driving it) Keep us posted and we will help all we can!
Richard D. Hord

P.S. "Christine" and my wife still don't get along :O
'60 Thunderbird "Christine"
Registry #33436
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Old 01-24-2012, 12:30 AM
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simplyconnected simplyconnected is offline
Slow Typist
Join Date: May 26 2009
Posts: 7,525
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Sean, be careful not to do things twice or three times. Carefully plan your restoration steps.

It helps to know how your car was built:
First it was a steel body with welded parts.
Then it was painted as an empty shell.
Next, they installed wire harnesses, glass, carpet, dash, seats, and all the trim.

Off to the side, the engine and trans was married, and the rear end was chosen. Those parts went into a painted steel body, and so did the suspension (upper & lower "A" arms, coil springs, shocks, sway bar, spindles, brakes, exhaust, steering wheel and tie rod components, etc).

My point is, for example, if you decide to change front springs, that would be the time to change suspension bushings, ball joints, shocks, and rubber bumpers because all those parts will be very accessible (or removed) while the springs are out. It is much cheaper, faster, and easier to restore all of these at once.

If you decide to take your engine out for an overhaul, plan on power washing and painting the empty engine bay.

If your engine has high-miles, smokes, etc, overhaul the entire engine, not half of it. Engine parts all work together. Reconditioning just the heads will cause your old rings to fail because they can no longer sustain 'new' compression for very long. Doing a complete overhaul uses only one inexpensive gasket set compared to buying gaskets individually or multiple times.

The guys are telling it straight... a good restoration takes many years to do properly. And the sign of a good restoration is, there is no way to see that things are restored. Many restorations end up half done because this is going to take a lot of time, money, and tenacity. Never buy a classic car as an investment. If you aren't passionate about your restoration, it probably won't get done.

Get pictures of how your finished car SHOULD look, and plaster your garage walls with them. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Keep your eyes on it. Otherwise, buy a car already restored. In this economy, they are around for cheap.

Hope this helps. - Dave
My latest project:
CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

"We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
--Lee Iacocca
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Old 01-24-2012, 08:59 AM
SandyBoy SandyBoy is offline
Join Date: Oct 31 2002
Posts: 841
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Beatiful Thunderbird
Beautiful Bride
Handsome Groom
What more is there ?
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:09 AM
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jopizz jopizz is offline
Excellent Auto Mechanic for over 40 years.
Join Date: Nov 23 2009
Posts: 5,503
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There are many different levels of restoration. Some will put thousands of dollars into a car to make it better than when it left the factory. When doing a squarebird hardtop this usually means putting more money into then you will ever get out of it if you want to sell it. As much as I like a car I always look at the bottom line when I do a restoration. That's just me. As mentioned it's your car and you should restore it to your tastes. You are not going to offend any purists by changing the color to something you prefer and making it mechanically to suit your taste and driving style. It's not a limited production car. I would always recommend a disc brake conversion if you are going to drive it more than just occasionally. The power assist drum brakes on a '59 can be scary if you are used to today's cars. If you have the know how by all means do as much of the work yourself as you can. You'll be surprised how much of an obsession it becomes.
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