Here we showcase a vehicle found on Craigslist that someone should fix up or restore with an ideal parts donor vehicle for the build and a few suggestions on what work or mods would really make the difference. If you see something you like, you better act fast. Craigslist cars come and go in a moments notice!
This month we found this fairly good looking 65 Thunderbird on the Huntsville, Alabama CL claiming to need only a motor for $1500: http://huntsville.craigslist.org/cto/5958982284.html
The interior is in ok condition but looks like it needs a few details straightened out.
In 1965 The Thunderbird was Ford’s crown jewel. Space age inspired interiors featured full instrumentation and many creature comforts. They came with power steering, power disc brakes, power windows and locks, air conditioning and even had optional cruise control available.
This one may have a bit too much rust for a concourse restoration, but could make one helluva weekend cruiser. The original FE motor has been disassembled and may be rebuildable, but the FE’s were fuel hungry and aftermarket support is not as good as other Ford V8’s like the Windsors and the modulars. We would sell the C6 and FE parts and go new school on this one.
We would throw in a modern Ford modular engine, 4R70W trans, and wiring harness from this 2003 Expedition from Jacksonville CL for $350: http://jacksonville.craigslist.org/pts/5946031684.html
A stock 2003 Expedition 5.4 modular makes 260 HP and 350 lb-ft torque, not the 300 hp and 427 lb-ft of torque that the original stock Thunderbird 390 FE motor made, but the Expedition weighs a hefty 700 lbs more than the T-Bird and has a GVWR of 6900 lbs and should handle the 4700 lb Thunderbird very well. With lots of factory and aftermarket upgrades available, 5.4 modular engines in extreme builds have often cranked out over 1000 horsepower in dyno pulls, so your budget and imagination are the only limits with these motors.
The Expedition was rated at 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway, if you were to stay with the stock 5.4 and 4R70w setup, the T-Bird should get low 20’s gas mileage on the highway, something an FE could never do with a C6.
If we were to go big on this one, we would go for a Pro-Touring build and do a late model Crown Vic front suspension and this independent rear suspension from the Expedition.
As always, sell all the good parts off your parts car on CL after you get what you need and then the scrap metal man is happy to give you back some of the money you spent on the donor vehicle! Sometimes, if the price of scrap is high, and you have a heavy scrap car (like an Expedition!) you may get more in scrap money than you paid for the car. I bought a 75 Maverick parts car for my 70 Maverick build for $350.
After I got everything I wanted off the 75, I have already sold over $1000 of parts from it. I cut up the body with a sawzall and scrapped it for another $35 (scrap was at a 12 year low that week..)
See you on the road!