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Ford Thunderbird 1965

Broadcast dates : 28th November 2004
2nd December 2004


When you talk about classic Ford Thunderbirds you are looking at the years between 1955 and 1966.

The Thunderbird, or T-Bird as it is affectionately known, came onto the scene in 1955 as a reply to Chevroletís Corvette, which made its debut in 1953.

But the Thunderbird was never designed as a true sports car the way the Corvette was. It was always a little bigger, a little more luxurious, even though it was often more powerful in its various guises than the Corvette.

The Thunderbird takes its name from the mythical bird sometimes employed as a messenger by The Great Spirit in American Indian folklore. It has been said that theThunderbird produces great winds from the flapping of his giant wings and lightning flashes from his eyes, as well as great rain and hailstorms.

Nigel Haselauís 1965 Ford Thunderbird is significant in the carís history in that this model year saw the return of the great Thunderbird emblem to the hood, or bonnet, of the T-Bird.
This was also the year when Ford introduced disc brakes for the first time on the car, and as such represents the beginning of modernization for the Ford line-up which was technically conservative until that time.

The Thunderbird had given up pretension to being a sports car after 1957. But the four-seat Personal cars, as they were known, still retained a sporty appeal with a narrow, smallish cockpit compared to the vast sweeps of bodywork surrounding the cabin.

From the outset in 1955 the T-bird had been fitted with a V8 engine and in fact it was very successful in racing, taking six NASCAR stock car racing wins in 1959.

It seems difficult to imagine how a car with 300 horsepower or 225 kiloWatts from its six point seven litre V8 motor could cope with old drum brakes.

Yet in other ways the Ford and others of this era were extremely sophisticated. You had items like electric seats, electric windows, a powerful air-conditioning system in 1965, whereas European and British cars were bare-bones basic by comparison.

Comfort has always been king in America, and anyone who has driven on the intestates for thousands of kilometers will understand why.

This Thunderbird is fitted with a three-speed Autoflite automatic transmission and it is perfectly suited to the car, offering absolutely unobtrusive progress.

And Nigel is happy to know that when he drives by, everyone else appreciates the Thunderbirdís natural grace.

The car abounds with lots of neat features, such as sequential indicator lights and fold-away steering column which makes getting in and out so much easier for the driver.

The interior is a mix of grace, luxury and a touch of flash with its pleated upholstery being edged with chrome trim, giving the rear compartment a snug feel.

Of course a radio was usually an option ordered by every T-Bird owner.

These cars were fast for their time, with a zero to 100 time of around nine to 10 seconds and a top speed approaching 200 km/h.

Until the Ford Mustang arrived, this was Fordís showcase sporty model, and Nigelís car was built in the year the Mustang took over as the younger crowdís dream car.

The first Thunderbird went on sale 50 years ago and the nameplate is still big in the Ford line-up. This car is a mere 40 years old, and the way it looks and runs, it should be good for another 40 years at least.

1965 Ford Thunderbird Hard Top
  • Engine: V8 6 390 cc
  • Power:225 kW @ 5 000 rpm
  • Torque: N/A
  • Transmission: Three-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 9,5 seconds (estimated) 
  • Top speed: 200 km/h (estimated) 
  • Fuel consumption: 20 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: N/A

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