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  #1  
Old 02-07-2003, 01:06 AM
cowgoddess cowgoddess is offline
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Default 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

I'm so glad I found your site! This is going to be a little longish...
I'm in the market for a "new" car and went to a classic car place to look around. I fell in love with the 1960 black hardtop w black/white vinyl interior, power windows, AC/Heat, all mirrors, power steering/brakes, and odometer reads 2543. The dealer knows the history of the car and says the engine only had 5000 miles put on it in the past 5 years. This elderly couple restored the car as their retirement project. When the wife passed away he sold it. This dream car has had two owners in between. I drove it and had a couple of issues. As it's been awhile since I drove an older car, the brakes seemed like I had to really press down to stop, steering a little loose, window got stuck while trying to roll up, heater got stuck on and I noticed a coolant leak. He had already told me about the exhaust leak in the manifold and that it needed a new compressor. He said that he would fix all of these problems and include it in the price because he had to fix them anyway. All of the problems I found, he said were minor. Were they? I plan to use this car as my daily driver. I realise that fuel efficiency is out the door, but are these cars easy to work on and get parts for? There's is nothing out there that comes close to the beauty of this car, at least in my price range. I'm thinking that the trade off for possible malfunctions is that the insurance/repairs are going to be cheap....I've had many people tell me that it's too much maintenance but the car is calling my name!

All of you lucky owners out there plz give me your two bits!
CG
PS I'll be bringing a mechanic with me when it comes back from the shop...
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2003, 10:41 AM
Rockin Kev Rockin Kev is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

I used my 60 Bird as everyday transport for six months with no proplems as it was so good to drive!. As for fuel ecomony if you fit the electronic ignition and rebuild the carb you should get back very good gas bill. All parts are avalible for this car to cover everyday transportation and repair. Have your mech look at what needs repair and that coolant leak but rest assured these cars are great fun good head turners and theres plenty of help on hand when you need it!.
So go for it as it sounds like your friends might be a bit green as you drive along in style. Ok listen to friends opinions but talk to TBird experts.
For what its worth i bought my Bird with one photo and a wire transfer of funds from England to Chicago to buy my dream and i dont regrete it one bit!.
Kevin.
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2003, 10:46 AM
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Alexander Alexander is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

The 1960 Thunderbird was always a good car. That is why so many are still left. It is the most refined of the 1958-60 Thunderbirds.

The 1958-60 thunderbirds are overall above average in reliability. My '59 thunderbird was my daily driver in the 1980's. I used it mostly on long trips in upstate New York. Two years ago I did a 1500-mile round trip to Detroit, with no problems. Most of the mechanical parts are readily available either new, reproduction or rebuilt. The York compressor for the A/C was used on new cars until the 1980's so replacements are easy to get. The other parts of the A/C system are not so easy to get but Classic Auto Air in Florida can get all the parts if you need them.

The car tends to run hot, though I have never overheated. You will not be able to run the A/C on a hot summer day in traffic. It will then overheat. The gasoline in the past few years is formulated for fuel-injected cars. Vapor lock can happen in traffic on a really hot day.

The brakes on the car are weak point of the car. They are marginal for the car's weight. If you know their limitations, you will be fine. You will learn not to tailgate with the car. There are kits available to convert the front brake to disk brakes, but for normal driving the stock brakes are fine.

Alexander
1959 Hardtop
1960 Golde Top
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  #4  
Old 02-07-2003, 10:59 AM
Rockin Kev Rockin Kev is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

So there you have it my friend i have read Alexs message and it just sums it all up. How much is this Bird forsale as that might tell us what its really worth or if its a good buy. But if your mech says no to this Bird then there are others out there to buy and plenty of help to guide you.
Kevin
Ps
From my last message the point i am making is that i purchased my car and shipped it 1000s miles to United Kingdom. So if i can find parts dealers in the States to help me you should have no proplems mate!.
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2003, 11:22 AM
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

One other point. Most of the improvement in the handling of cars in the last 50 years is due to the improvement in tire technology. The roads are no longer cut for bias ply tires. You may find yourself holding onto the steering wheel for dear life if you hit a groove in the road. If you run the car with radial tires, you will not have this problem. I am running Coker Classic P215/75R14 wide white wall radials. This is equivalent to the 8.00-14 and G78-14 size. Make sure that the rims are in good shape since the radial put more stress on them. Coker sells brand new rims that fit, if yours are not roadworthy.

Make sure the suspension pieces such as the ball joints, tie rod ends and idler arm are not worn. The steering box gear develops some play over the miles, but this can be tightened up with an adjustment. You must do this adjustment using the procedure in the shop manual using a inch-pound torque wrench. You risk crushing the recirculating ball tubes in the steering box if you tighten the nut on the steering box without following the directions. This will result in a permanent flat spot in the steering of the car. recirculating ball steering is still being used by Mercedes in some of their cars. Thunderbirds were modern cars for their time.

Alexander
1959 Hardtop
1960 Golde Top
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  #6  
Old 02-07-2003, 11:12 PM
cowgoddess cowgoddess is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

Now I'm super glad I found you! :D I was hoping to hear something from ya'll before I go out there again. It was good timing too. I got all four of my wisdom teeth removed today and was feeling a little blue or as Audrey Hepburn said, " I have the mean reds." What a great pick me up-almost better than the painkillers.8-) An older friend of mine put in me in the reds when I told him about the car and he hit the roof. He's like my dad and thinks I should get a car with airbags. I told him that I would get the optional 1960 seatbelts added. He then said that it would crumple...but they are made of steal. I told hime that I felt pretty safe in it. Jeez practical people can be a pain the rear...
The car is going for $14000 US and I'm financing a good chunk of that 6.5% No silver spoons here...He won't come down off of that price because he's sure he'll find a buyer for it since he's sold it before. I believe that he will,too. There were two cars in there with tags saying they were going overseas (Sweden & Germany). I wouldn't just be competing with people in the US. :o But I'm glad you put my mind at ease about the parts. I originally wanted the convertible version, but that would be even more parts...too bad I'll miss all of thebeautiful weather we get here... I'll just have to use my other cars on those days. (It's an art car that is just going to be used for parades because I'm tired of shelling out alot money on a mechanically inferior car...different story....


I'm going to print your comments to take with me and definitely keep the good advice in mind when driving in the horrible Texas heat and driving too close.

So a couple more questions...

Do you know how well the car would fair (given everything is working fine) in a 5 mile parade with temps in the high 80's? Big classic parade in Texas...

What about 50-75ish?(Downtown Dallas Mardi Gras...)

Any safety info not that I'm too concerned...

If I get the seat belts for that year they don't effect the values do they? Lap only I assume...



I'm such a girl in that I've already bought a pair of shades that are similar to that year's...

Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement. For me it's a big decision, but I think it will be a good one...


CG:D

I apologize for the long emails again and any typos as I'm on happy pills this weekend until I'm healed.
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2003, 09:41 AM
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

Don't worry about the safety aspect about the 1958-60 Thunderbirds. They are Ford's first unibody car. They were built using the same sheet metal as the Ford's regular body on frame cars. It did not pay to get separate thinner sheet metal for the comparatively small number of Thunderbirds produced. One of the reasons that unibody cars are so common now is that you can save weight by using thinner sheet metal. The car is really built a lot stronger than needed to be. There are over 3000 welds holding the car together.

The cars were known to be very tough. Unfortunately many were destroyed in demolition derbies were they did very well. They were still no match for 1963 Imperials though.

One good thing about having a strong stiff car in a world of soft cars is that in the unfortunate event of an accident the other car is your crumple zone.

I had a highway accident on a wet road in the 1980's with my 1959 Thunderbird. A drunk in a tow truck hit a stopped 1976 Chevrolet Impala on a bend in the road moments before I got to the bend. I clipped the rear of the tow truck with my car at about 20 miles per hour. The tow truck bent on half on impact. The tow bar cut into my left fender through the headlight up the front left tire. I felt no impact and I had no seatbelts in the car at the time (I put them in after the accident. I had bought them, but the vendor sent to me in the wrong color.). There was only sheet metal damage to my car. The frame rails of my car were not bent. The car is repaired and is a show winner today. I think if I were driving a modern Honda or other car at the time, I would have been paraplegic or dead. I don't recommend that you get into an accident with your Thunderbird, but it is an above average car for safety. The 1958-60 Thunderbird has numerous safety features not found on most cars at the time. It has secure door latches that will not open on impact. It has a padded dash - not just a half an inch as most cars, but several inches. It is one of the few cars at the time that had a collapsible steering wheel (Actually the 1960 Ford cars were the last cars to have collapsible steering wheels until they were required by the government in 1968.). It has a double-hinged rear view mirror. It had optional seat belts.

Adding seatbelts won't detract from the car. Many Thunderbird vendors sell aircraft grade metal buckle seat belts that are very similar to the original equipment. They are not expensive. Original Ford installation instructions for seat belts can be found on this website.

As far as taking the car in a parade, you should have no problems until the temperatures are in the nineties. Of course, you will need to keep the air conditioner off.

Alexander
1959 Hardtop
1960 Golde Top
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2003, 06:33 PM
cowgoddess cowgoddess is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

Thanks again for you wealth of knowledge. I spoke with a friend of a friend that is a complete classic car nut. He and I are going to look around and maybe I'll hold off for the convertible. He knows the dealer and says he's a good guy, but $14000 seemed a bit steep to him. He belives he can help me find one from an individual that would be a better deal. But I'm definitely sticking with the "Squarebird". Will post here again in the weeks to come after I aquire my dream...
CG
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  #9  
Old 02-09-2003, 12:47 AM
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

Thanks for visiting this message board. Good luck with your search.

Depending on condition, $14,000 may not be that outlandish for a 1960 Hardtop. Old Car Price Guide (February 2003) puts the value of a #1 (mint) 1960 Hardtop as $27,000. A #3 car (20-footer - a car that looks good at twenty feet away) is valued at$10,800. For a 1960 Convertible a #1 is $39,000 and a #3 is $15,600. Most cars you see at car shows are #2 condtion or less. There are very few #1 condition cars.

Squarebirds are no longer cheap.

Alexander
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  #10  
Old 02-09-2003, 11:30 AM
Rockin Kev Rockin Kev is offline
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Default RE: 1960 Thunderbird a Good Daily Driver?

Alex
I veiwed the www.hemmings.com website for 60 Birds and found a nice Golde top so iam trying to see if can get my hands on this one. So our new member has a chance at one for $4000.00 so if i was him i go for it!. So what does old car price guide now say about our golde tops. Its about time the Squarebird is up and coming as they hold there price well here in the UK but the Bullet/Flair Birds dont.
The little Birds are nice but in my opinion very overpriced and overrated. Also last week i was offered a 60 j code convertible here in England, she is white with white top and red/white interior. Overall condition is very good with new paint/crome and fully rebuilt 430ci.The interior needs work but the car is loaded with options even down to the locking gas cap. It came to the uk in 1973 and as yet i have only seen photos so i may go and have a look at this one as its for sale at 9000.00 which i think is a good price seeing i already have a golde top. The reason for sale is that the owner is in his late sixties so its a bit much for him now so possible low ownership before it came to the UK.
Kev 60 Golde top.
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