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1964 Thunderbird, 390 FE
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have the opportunity to buy a running and driving 77 LTD 2 with 21,000 miles. I got a sneak peek a couple days ago, but I am going to look at it more in depth and start it up tomorrow night. The thing looks brand new on the side I pulled the cover back. The drivetrain is unknown to me right now, I will fill you folks in once I learn more, and add pictures.

The current owner is a semi-retired mechanic with his own garage that has been in business down the street from my great-grandparent's house for 40 years. He bought it after the original owner (a friend of his) passed away with 17,000 miles on it. It has a new gas tank since it sat for a long time. The mechanic says he was the one that serviced it ever since it was new.

All this info is unverified as of now, I will be cautious and watch for any red flags, but if all goes well what do y'all think? The old guy said he's asking 5 grand, but would take 4 to the right person. I know this is my decision to make, but I value your opinions.

Take care,

Tbird
 

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Two door or 4 door?
A lot of folks would assign more cache to the 2-door, but that is less of an issue than it used to be now that people have gotten used to their modern sedans having no 2-door option available any more.
Most likely engine would be 351M or 400 Ford(some call it the 400M), but they also used 302 and 351W.
I don't believe you could get an FE or a 385 Series engine.

Sounds like a fair price for the mileage if your into it.
 

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1964 Thunderbird, 390 FE
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is a 2 door with a 302. I got so interested in looking at the car tonight I forgot to take pictures for you folks. whoops. I have some more details. The mechanic (current owner) has had it for 18 years, he drives it every once in a while but he's getting up there and has other things to attend to now. The interior and body looks brand spanking new except for a small dent in the rear quarter panel. The white vinyl top is not yellowed or faded at all.

Things he has replaced:

gas tank
rebuilt carburetor
fuel pump
radiator
thermostat housing and tstat
several hoses
and a few other things the rattled off so fast I don't remember.

The guy started it up after sitting for 4 or 5 months, and after the gas reached the carb it fired right up without even a stumble! He said he'll get it out of the garage and on the lift so I can see the underside if I get serious about this. I will have to con my dad into finding a place to put the thing in the machine shed, it's too nice to sit outside...
 

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For the ratio of sitting versus running, expect cam lobes to wipe. Unless he lubed the cam before starting it up after a long slumber, it's a real thing.

I did a fly-n-drive on a 73 Impala once. Went from L.A. to TX to pick it up. I took a toolbox knowing I would have to get lube to the cam because it had 58k miles and hadn't been started since the mid 80s. When I got there, he surprised me with having it running already with a lifter tick. I re-negotiated the price and hit the road (after replacing the nylon bias-ply tires from the 70s)

By the time I made it 1400 miles back to L.A., two cylinders were misfiring and the oil was full of glitter. Fortunately I was able to negotiate a price that gave me enough wiggle room to rebuild the 454.

Old cars with low mileage can be a time capsule or the biggest money pit you've ever encountered. Thorough inspection is diligent. One of the worst examples was when I bought a 73 Hornet Sportabout wagon with 7400 miles (not a typo) out of SC. It was a huge money pit. Best example was an 87 Olds Cutlass Salon with 36k miles. It ran like factory-fresh with no repairs needed other than maintenance until I sold it with 98k. One other bad example was a 94 Mazda B4000 (ford ranger with badges) with 64k out of Florida. It has been a complete pile of turds.

Equal chances that you're buying a shiny gem or a steaming pile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
For the ratio of sitting versus running, expect cam lobes to wipe. Unless he lubed the cam before starting it up after a long slumber, it's a real thing.

I did a fly-n-drive on a 73 Impala once. Went from L.A. to TX to pick it up. I took a toolbox knowing I would have to get lube to the cam because it had 58k miles and hadn't been started since the mid 80s. When I got there, he surprised me with having it running already with a lifter tick. I re-negotiated the price and hit the road (after replacing the nylon bias-ply tires from the 70s)

By the time I made it 1400 miles back to L.A., two cylinders were misfiring and the oil was full of glitter. Fortunately I was able to negotiate a price that gave me enough wiggle room to rebuild the 454.

Old cars with low mileage can be a time capsule or the biggest money pit you've ever encountered. Thorough inspection is diligent. One of the worst examples was when I bought a 73 Hornet Sportabout wagon with 7400 miles (not a typo) out of SC. It was a huge money pit. Best example was an 87 Olds Cutlass Salon with 36k miles. It ran like factory-fresh with no repairs needed other than maintenance until I sold it with 98k. One other bad example was a 94 Mazda B4000 (ford ranger with badges) with 64k out of Florida. It has been a complete pile of turds.

Equal chances that you're buying a shiny gem or a steaming pile.
Good to know. I suppose I'll cross that bridge if and when I get there. I'll learn to rebuild an engine if I have to. Thanks.
 

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If it was me, and the underside inspection revealed no problems or outright conditions, it could make a nice retro cruiser.
I wouldn't be all that worried about the cam, the 302 isn't known for eating cams like SBC's and BBC's are.
I'd put one of those aftermarket self learning EFI kits on it, and add some nice modern or even retro "mag" wheels on it would make for a sharp car that easily deal with todays pump gas.
Some 17" wheels would probably look pretty sweet without getting too rediculous looking.

302"s are fairly inexpensive on the used market, or you could upgrade to a 351W if you wanted, if it comes to needing a different engine.
I'm more a GM guy, but I could rock Ford like that as a second fair weather occasional driver.
The mid-70's cars are starting to gain some attention finally.(y)
 

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1964 Thunderbird, 390 FE
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If it was me, and the underside inspection revealed no problems or outright conditions, it could make a nice retro cruiser.
I wouldn't be all that worried about the cam, the 302 isn't known for eating cams like SBC's and BBC's are.
I'd put one of those aftermarket self learning EFI kits on it, and add some nice modern or even retro "mag" wheels on it would make for a sharp car that easily deal with todays pump gas.
Some 17" wheels would probably look pretty sweet without getting too rediculous looking.

302"s are fairly inexpensive on the used market, or you could upgrade to a 351W if you wanted, if it comes to needing a different engine.
I'm more a GM guy, but I could rock Ford like that as a second fair weather occasional driver.
The mid-70's cars are starting to gain some attention finally.(y)
It currently has 16" wheels off of a Mercury around that era that look good on the car, not amazing, but I would assume much better than the 14" originals. If it came to it, I think I would get a 351W. A buddy just hopped up the 351W in his truck, and I like the way it runs. I'm not much of a Ford guy either, but my grandma's Tbird has taught me to appreciate them more. Ford had to have done something at least somewhat right in the 70's or they wouldn't be in business today. I will add that in certain parts of Peoria, IL 17" wheels would look tiny compared to what some people spend their money on... I think I should get 24's with rubber bands around them to fit in. ;)

I was pleasantly surprised with the style in the body lines this car has. I'm used to seeing pictures of tan and brown Mustang 2's and Pintos when someone says mid 70's.
 

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What's the body color?

My neighbor when I was a kid had a dark maroon 2-door '76 or'77 LTD II, it had some yellow/orange/red striping scheme on it from the factory ("GT" or "Sport" maybe?) and I thought it was sharp as a kid....had Keystone wheels on it if you can remember them, they were all the rage at that time.
My stepdad inhereted a same Maroon color and stripe combination Ranchero when I was a kid too. That had the Magnum 500 type factory wheels on it IIRC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's a lighter blue with white pinstriping. A little richer than the Tbird in my picture. I can't say I know what keystone wheels are... I was born in 2002. 😐
 

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This is the stripe scheme I remember....
617841



and this is a now mostly cast aside 1970's aftermarket wheel design nobody wants anymore, a Keystone Klassic wheel:
I never liked the looks of them.
617840
 

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What are those kind of wheels called? I see them fairly often, but have never known.
That's Ford's Magnum 500 wheel, first used on performance cars in the late 1960's....1968 or "69 Mustangs were the first to use them I think.
IIRC came a couple different ways....either silver and black painted with a polished stainless trim ring("beauty ring"), ...or chrome plated with black paint accents and no need for a trim ring.
Both with a crhome and logo center cap.
1979 is the last year Ford used them IIRC, on anything.
Mopar and AMC also used the painted version.
Chevy had a nearly identical painted version, called the Super Sport wheel.

You can still buy them, ,resto and aftermarket....I believe even a retro version in 17" is also now available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That's Ford's Magnum 500 wheel, first used on performance cars in the late 1960's....1968 or "69 Mustangs were the first to use them I think.
IIRC came a couple different ways....either silver and black painted with a polished stainless trim ring("beauty ring"), ...or chrome plated with black paint accents and no need for a trim ring.
Both with a crhome and logo center cap.
1979 is the last year Ford used them IIRC, on anything.
Mopar and AMC also used the painted version.
Chevy had a nearly identical pinted version, called the Super Sport wheel.

You can still buy them, ,resto and aftermarket....I believe even a retro version in 17" is also now available.
Nice. I think they look good on that LTD 2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Still thinking about it. I looked through my finances (not much there haha) and decided I can afford this thing, but the problem is a place to store it. The shed at the farm is getting full of farm equipment (as it should I suppose) I don't want this car in my dad's way. He's fine if I put it in the shed for a couple days because of severe storms or rain, but not permanently. I'm going to look at the Morton building type storage place the Thunderbird hibernates at in the winter. The Illinois salt is absolutely NOT going to get on this car if I buy it.
 

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For the ratio of sitting versus running, expect cam lobes to wipe. Unless he lubed the cam before starting it up after a long slumber, it's a real thing.

I did a fly-n-drive on a 73 Impala once. Went from L.A. to TX to pick it up. I took a toolbox knowing I would have to get lube to the cam because it had 58k miles and hadn't been started since the mid 80s. When I got there, he surprised me with having it running already with a lifter tick. I re-negotiated the price and hit the road (after replacing the nylon bias-ply tires from the 70s)

By the time I made it 1400 miles back to L.A., two cylinders were misfiring and the oil was full of glitter. Fortunately I was able to negotiate a price that gave me enough wiggle room to rebuild the 454.

Old cars with low mileage can be a time capsule or the biggest money pit you've ever encountered. Thorough inspection is diligent. One of the worst examples was when I bought a 73 Hornet Sportabout wagon with 7400 miles (not a typo) out of SC. It was a huge money pit. Best example was an 87 Olds Cutlass Salon with 36k miles. It ran like factory-fresh with no repairs needed other than maintenance until I sold it with 98k. One other bad example was a 94 Mazda B4000 (ford ranger with badges) with 64k out of Florida. It has been a complete pile of turds.

Equal chances that you're buying a shiny gem or a steaming pile.
Any other way to "pre-lube" an engine besides taking the distributor out?
 
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