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Old 05-17-2010, 08:05 PM
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Rock~n~Roll Radio Rock~n~Roll Radio is offline
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Exclamation New to the Squarebird! Need some advice.

Hi all,
I went to a classic car dealer to purchase a mint AMC Pacer but fell in love with a 1960 Ford Tunderbird (352/A63)

I am absolutely new to Thunder/Squarebirds and was wondering if there was anything that is particular to these vehicles that I should look into before purchasing- yes I really want to buy it!
I am an AMC and Dodge man and have NO experience with Ford, let-alone a Thunderbird.

The 'bird is listed @ 6k but I have talked him down to 5.5k because of the following problems:
- Power steering line leaks like Niagara Falls;
- There are no brakes (either I roll in gear or come to a dime-stop, there is no middle ground/ no slowing to a stop);
- The vehicle only starts in Neutral (is that normal?).

It has been sitting for 4 years w/ 89K original miles on it. The body id a !GEM! I do bodywork and interiors so I can vouch for both! !!!GEM!!!

I was going to post a link to the dealer, but I am afraid that someone who knows about 'birds will swoop and grab it B4 I do

I am going down with my mechanic tomorrow. I just wanted to know if there was anything specific to look at.

Any help or input would be greatly appreciated. Despite my limited knowledge, I think I will just buy it. Again, I know bodywork, and this, I think is worth it just for that- there is not ONE spec of rust!

Thanks guys! (and girls?)
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Old 05-17-2010, 08:43 PM
Richard D. Hord Richard D. Hord is offline
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Hey Gabe,
Welcome! Sounds to me like you better get her while the getting is good.
Power steering should be easy fix. The brakes, I would change front drums to disc and replace all lines, replace rear shoes and add duel power booster. Her starting in neutral is a safety switch under steering wheel that needs to be adjusted!
Take you a small refrigerator magnet with you when you go back and look at her. Check rockers, rear quarters, rolls over rear wheels, front of hood top and bottom, deck lid, panel between back glass and deck lid, splash shields behind front wheels, I would also check floors and trunk floor.
Does she smoke when she is first started?
These old birds are bad about running a little warm, but we have figured out how to help or correct that problem!
I would also go through and see what else does not work, (more negotiating room)
Most other things can be fixed, with a little TLC!
If all else fails and you buy her and change your mind you should be able to sell her and make some money!!!
Keep us posted!
Richard D. Hord
'60 Thunderbird "Christine"
Registry #33436

Last edited by Richard D. Hord : 05-17-2010 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:27 PM
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DKheld DKheld is offline
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Some things I can think of. Guess much of it depends on whether you want to show or go and how much you 'll do yourself. Lots of parts available and this site is the BEST source for info.

No hardened seats on the original heads in the motor so even with about 90K the unleaded gas will take it's toll pretty fast. Might expect to do the heads - about average priced to repair. I had an estimate for $600 - 800 for the pair if I brought them in to the shop.

Dash is about average price or a little above - takes time to replace - most likely would need to be painted or dyed unless black and probably drooping by now.... a + if it's already replaced.

Think the power window motors are expensive but mine is manual.

See you are in Colorado so a/c may not be an issue - about $1200 for an aftermarket kit but need to drill new holes in the firewall and folks will know it's not factory (again - show or go would make the difference). Very difficult to change a non a/c car to factory a/c style without taking it apart.

As Richard said - these cars have 4 wheel drum brakes - they stop the car but you need to plan the stop about 3 weeks in advance. Some good options these days to convert to front discs - probably run $1000 by the time you get all you need. Original system rebuild will run around $700 with a rebuilt booster. Read the disc brake threads if you have time - lots of brake info there. Probably one of the weakest points on the car.

Radial tires will improve ride and handling greatly.

Vacuum wipers are pretty lame - $130ish for a kit to convert to electric.

Gas tanks are available aftermarket - around $200 +/- Usually full of crud and the screen will clog leaving you on the roadside. Try plasticoating and it still doesn't help much - been there.

Shift lever detent prone to wear - sounds like this on might be worn or just the neutral safety switch out of adjustment as Richard mentioned. Detent available and not a big deal to replace from what I've read. Can cause it to slip out of park in some cases.

These are great cruisers - 8-12 mpg in town 18-21 mpg on the road. 3 speed trans, no fan clutch, and the aerodynamics of a brick so they make a little noise going down the highway but overall they are very nice for a 50 year old car.

Hope that helps - I'm sure some of the other guys (and gals) will have a few more thoughts. Hope you get it. Register it on the Thunderbird registry if you do. Love to see pics if it happens.

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Old 05-17-2010, 09:37 PM
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Dakota Boy Dakota Boy is offline
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Thumbs up

This site has been like a gold mine of information for me.

If you buy that 'Bird, you'll have plenty of help from the pros here.
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:50 PM
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simplyconnected simplyconnected is offline
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Gabe, if you're a body man, I won't dwell on that other than to say, look at where the rockers meet the front subframe. Sometimes there is a drainage problem there. Our members weld-in new metal and its good to go.

The engine and transmission are standard 'nuts and bolts' with no surprises. Parts are still available, and we have vendors with whole cars for parts.

Six grand is VERY cheap if the body is sound. The drivetrain isn't much different from GM, Chryslers, and AMC cars from that era. The 352 has hydraulic lifters and is what we call an "FE" engine. All the FE engines share and exchange many parts including crankshafts. Sometimes it is hard to tell the size of an FE just by looking at it. New and used parts are all over eBay for all FE's.

The '60 had no surprises. What I'd like to know is, are you trying to make this car bone stock? Many of our members have added modern safety features that were not available back then like:
Radial tires
Power Disk Brakes
Electric windshield wipers
Seat Belts, etc...

A 1960 Thunderbird CAN operate just like a modern car if it is fitted with modern components. But back then, even new T-birds had marginal drum brakes, at best. The engine and trans were just fine for the day. Now, we have unleaded fuel. If you will be doing serious expressway driving, I suggest installing hardened exhaust seats and stainless valves on ANY classic engine.

If you have specific questions, don't hesitate to ask. We are here to help. - 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 05-18-2010, 01:17 PM
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YellowRose YellowRose is offline
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Default New to the Squarebird! Need some advice.

Hi Gabe! It sounds like you found a good 'un! I hope, after you looked at it again, that you still like what you see and got it. It sounds like a very good car to work with. You will get a lot of help here if you need it. As I always say, we do have the greatest Tbird Techies from around the world on here! Go fer it!

And yes, there are gals on here to! Not as many as I would like to see active, though!

Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
'59 Tbird "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" aka "Tweety Bird"
"It's Hip To Be Square"
Thunderbird Registry #33025 VTCI #11178

Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or (Cell) 210-875-1411 (Home) 210-674-5781
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Old 05-18-2010, 03:57 PM
Coral Coral is offline
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Guess that was my cue to jump in here, LOL

Hi Gabe, please call back to the dealership and get the Data plate and VIN information for us here, you can certainly post a link to the car on here, since WE are not of the type to go and scoop up on someone's find!
(If you need help with posting links or pictures just haller)

Quite a difference from a Pacer though I gotta say

Welcome aboard!
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:39 PM
tbirds8 tbirds8 is offline
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A perfect Body??? 6000 is cheap. Nothin worse than welding new floor pans,patch panels,trunk floors and rockers in one of these. They are unibody!! What they thinkin when they put windshield wipers and brakes on these is another story.
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Old 05-19-2010, 09:35 AM
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tbird430 tbird430 is offline
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Red face

Originally Posted by tbirds8 View Post
What they thinkin when they put windshield wipers and brakes on these is another story.
COST. Unfortunately cost is probably the reason Ford made these decisions on these 2 systems. They used what they already had to keep costs down & maintain "X" amount of profit....


The 1960 Ford Thunderbird. The WORLD'S most wanted car....

VTCI Member#6287.
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