1969 Ford Thunderbird

Table of Contents

Note: I've scattered stuff all over this page, so you might have to do a Find if you don't see what you're looking for. Sorry. One of these days I'll organize the whole mess instead of just adding on!

We also have pages dedicated to our previous struggles:

Check it out!

I have a presentation Ford developed for salespeople about the features for the 69 Thunderbird, converted into Flash. These are rather large files (2Mb) so you're better off with fast access when trying to view them:


Listed highest priority first:

How I Got It

I was surfing the Yahoo Classifieds (back when it was free to post and worthwhile) and stumbled onto a '70 LeMans I liked. I contacted the owner, a guy running Tallapoosa Salvage on the Georgia/Alabama line, and got directions. When I got there, the Pontiac needed more work than I thought it was worth. But sitting next to it was this strangely-colored 1969 Ford Thunderbird. 

What It Looked Like Then

Decent shape, inside and out, with almost no rust, dings, etc. A lot of the trim was in the trunk all banged up, and the whole car needed a good wash, but otherwise it looked pretty straight. Apparently the guy had rescued it from a body shop after a repaint that went unpaid.
They put a battery in her and a gallon of fresh gas and after a few stalls she started up. The 429 sounded great to me, but I didn't have the $2,500 he was asking, and the tires had gone flat so I couldn't test drive it. I'm also not a big fan of Fords.
I went back the next weekend with Nathan from ReinCARnation, a guy that works on old cars here in Atlanta. (Not the most knowledgeable of mechanics, but works cheap.) We gave her a short test drive. The brakes went to the floor without slowing the car, so we had to use the emergency brake and couldn't go far in that condition. The front wheels wiggled as the car rolled, so we figured it had a brake dragging or something. But the transmission shifted fine and it got the thumbs-up from Nathan so I put down a deposit to hold the car until I could get the cash together. She was towed to ReinCARnation late May 2001.

Repairs Summary

In order of completion, oldest first:

Repair Details

May 2001
I went back to the salvage yard and got a few parts off the 2 door. In trying to get the headlight door motors, I ended up taking out the whole damn front end - grill, bumper, etc. There was just no easy way to get to the door motors. I probably removed 50 bolts out of the front of the thing. Eventually I had half the car in the back of the truck just to get a couple pieces of trim and the headlight door motors, but there's nothing wrong with a few spare parts. (I have heard since then that if you remove the horn it's easy to pull the motors right out the top, though the shop manual says you can pull them out the bottom, which is impossible.)

June 2001
the work began. Nathan pulled the (non-original) wheels off and found that they were dragging on the brake calipers because they were too shallow - good thing nobody tried to drive it! The brakes were shot, even before the wheels scraped across them, and had to be replaced - everything from the rotors to calipers to shoes. Since the rotors were a one-year-only item for '69 they were tough to find. We finally gave up and went with the '70 rotors and got the few other parts that were different that year. The master cylinder had to be replaced too.
Nathan also found some Continental wheels to use until I could get the right wheels and wheelcovers.

Thunderbird passenger side

The driver's window had to be re-glued to the track. Apparently the 67-69 models don't use the rubber bolts they used in previous and later years to hold the glass to the track. After a while the glue stops working and the glass comes loose. The passenger door window was loose as well, though not yet completely off the track.
After that it got a tune up - new plugs, wires, distributor cap, filters, etc. It sounded great when I revved the engine, but it wouldn't idle cleanly. Nathan had given it a test drive and it would run fine as long as the engine was humming, but whenever it slowed down it would almost stall. Eventually he figured out the charging system wasn't working 100% so the alternator had to be replaced. Voltage regulators (and the electrics in general) for the '69 were apparently not the best around so it's better to replace the alternator with one that has the regulator incorporated into it instead of getting the separate regulator. This means the ammeter in the dash doesn't work anymore, but I don't have to deal with the poor regulator and everyone on the Glamorbird group says the ammeter rarely moves more than a millimeter anyway.

According to an email from Guy Rideout:

Most normal ammeters (not volt meters) have the main electrical feed (except for the starter) go through the gauge. This requires a heavy wire to go into the dashboard. Ford did not do this, as it was easier and cheaper to have the heavy wires stay under the hood. They had only a thin wire go to the ammeter, wired in parallel to the main electrical feed, with a small resistor. The intention was only a small portion of the current goes through this wire; just enough to move the ammeter in the appropriate direction.

However, the resistor in the circuit seems to be high, so not even a small amount of power flows through the ammeter. It is possible to try different resistors to see what works. However, if one does not know what they are doing, they can over power the ammeter, possibly causing damage/melting/fire.

Even with the new alternator it still wouldn't idle. Nathan suspected the timing chain since he couldn't get it to hold consistent time. He took it next door to Hayes Auto. They tend to take a day or three more than they say they will because they get backed up and don't get to you when they say they will. But they do have a couple of very good mechanics and they've never tried to do more work than I asked for. (Honest mechanics are about as rare as honest politicians, it seems.) As it turns out the owner, Warren, used to have a '68 Thunderbird so he knew the car fairly well.
They dug into it and found it wasn't the timing chain, it was the gas tank full of garbage and a bad sending unit. I poked around and found several places that restore the sending units and several used ones, but finally tracked down a new one at Thunder Cars and Parts. Stefan, the owner, said someone had started remanufacturing them the previous October and not many folks knew about it. I ordered one.
The gas tank was pulled and sent it away to be cleaned and re-lined, but the shop said it wasn't worth fixing. So I ordered a new one ($159 + shipping) from Quanta Restoration and Performance Products. But before you order one, read below.

July 2001
The gas tank arrived a week later but wouldn't fit in the car - wrong tank. It got sent back and they sent another - also the wrong tank. I talked to them on the phone and confirmed they'd sent what they thought was the correct tank, correct part number and size and everything, but it was about four inches too wide to fit between the frame rails and a little too deep as well. I probably made twenty phone calls and every single person said there was only one size tank made that year for the four door, which fits several other full-size Ford models, and it was the tank Quanta had sent me. There were two different sending units, one for cars with some kind of emission controls and one for those without, but only one gas tank. All the original Ford documentation says there's only one tank, but that tank does not fit in my T-bird. Eventually I talked to a guy at Hilltop Classics, Jerry Olmsted. 760-746-0400. Jerry is a super nice guy who really knows his Thunderbirds, but he said he'd never heard of another size tank. So I gave him the measurements and a description of the tank. He called back and said he had that tank, but it came off a '67 Thunderbird. He asked a few questions about my car to confirm it's a '69, then said he'd never heard that there were two tanks for the '69 four door and it's not documented anywhere, but he'd be happy to send the tank. It arrived about a week later and needed to be cleaned and lined. After that it installed fine. Since then, I've heard that there was a 1/2 year only tank that also fit the '70 'bird but I haven't gotten 100% reliable confirmation on that, so make sure to measure your tank before you go hunting a replacement.
With the new tank and fuel sending unit in place they tested the carb - shot. Too much garbage and rust had been run through it, so it had to be replaced as well. Fortunately the Ford 429 is a very popular engine and is very easy to find parts for, thanks to the Mustang and muscle crowd.

August 2001
She rumbled like a race car as they pulled her around when I went to pick her up - sounded like it needed a new muffler but I was ok with a little extra noise for now. I drove up the block to Reincarnation to borrow a wrench from Nathan so I could take off the trailer hitch and get the tags put on. 45 minutes later we finally got the rusted bolts loose and got the 70 pound homemade trailer hitch off the beast. Then the rear valence fell off. Apparently the trailer hitch was the only thing holding it on, so we put on the appropriate fasteners, I slapped the tag on and headed to the car wash where the change machine refused to work, then ate my money.
"This car IS cursed..." I grumbled in the blazing parking lot heat.
But I filled her full of premium and headed home. On the way I tapped the gas just to see what the acceleration was like, then giggled like a school girl. I got her home and my girlfriend ran out the door grinning. She's a fine machine. We cleaned her up a bit, loaded her for the drive in and headed out. We stopped by the gas station to use their vacuum then headed south - only to head right back home again due to the skipping cylinder and the copious amounts of smoke bellowing out of the tailpipes.
In the morning I starting her up to take her back to the shop. She ran fine, of course, like a kid who stayed home sick from school but is then forced to go to the doctor and the symptoms mysteriously vanish. The mechanic poked around with it all day and couldn't find a thing wrong. Nathan suspected the new carb was still a little sticky and the butterfly valve was stuck open. By the next morning it had unstuck, thus the car was running fine. Well, mostly fine. There was a stuck lifter, judging from the ticking, but it was running ok.
Later in the month I poured a couple of cans of CD-2 engine detergent in her to try to free up the stuck lifter and stop the loud ticking noise. "Usually works within five minutes!" - my ass. I must admit I didn't think it was going to work, I just hoped. No luck, she still ticks like a time bomb. Stinks too.
On my next attempt to reach the drive in she wouldn't start. It sounded like a bad or stuck starter or starter solenoid but it turned out to be nothing more than a loose wire. Since it sat for so long it's no surprise it had got a few kinks that are appearing as I drive it.
Towards the end of the month I finally couldn't take the exhaust fumes in the car and the 6 mpg in the city. The new carb has had enough time to settle in so I took it to the mechanic hoping it just needed a tweak, and told them to look into the problem with the fumes. They adjusted the carb but found it also needed a new distributor. Also the plugs are already beginning to foul so it's starting to skip. One of the high pressure hoses on the power steering pump was leaking, dripping fluid onto the manifold, thus the smoke and stink. The valve cover gaskets need replacement as well. They replaced the distributor and she runs a bit smoother. They replaced the power steering line so she's not quite as stinky, but the valve cover gaskets are going to have to wait until I get back from vacation. Also the rear drain hoses in the trunk are shot so any fumes that make it into the trunk make it into the interior. Since the left muffler has a hole in it I'm sure there are more fumes leaking into the trunk than there should be. Ah, the joys of old car ownership...
I got into the trunk and back seat trying to figure out how I could stop some of the fumes. I took the rear seat out and took the rear deck off. I found a few square holes under the rear windshield and put duct tape over those. The rear vent was in the closed position so I didn't see much more that I could do short of putting a layer of plastic behind the seat and under the rear deck and I wasn't motivated for that yet. In the trunk, I removed the drain hoses that run from the rear vent down to the trunk floor up behind the rear seats. They were rotted through and full of trash. I taped over the holes until I can afford to get a new set. Thunderbird Ranch sells a kit, but they want $95 for it. Their prices are too high for my poor wallet.

A few days later I pulled the dash apart trying to figure out why the radio doesn't work. When I bought the car it had a crappy after-market FM modulator attached to the ashtray with sheetmetal screws. I had pulled that out and tossed it immediately. So this month I tried to get the AM radio working. To make a long story short, I gave up the first time. (See our How To guide on replacing the AM with the AM/FM stereo for more.) The good news is I was able to get everything back together again.

After my failed radio experiments, I got some generic 2" tubing from Pep Boys and replaced the rear drain hoses. It's not a perfect job, I had to slice up the side of the hose and make a funnel shape at one end to get it into the drain holes and do the opposite at the top where they meet the vent, holding it all together with duct tape, but they work.

September 2001
With the lousy gas mileage and the oil on half the plugs, I decided I'd save money and go for a full engine rebuild instead of just replacing a gasket or two. I'd already planned a vacation so I decided to wait until I got back. The day I got back I was laid off from work so the T-bird sits in the driveway oozing oil and other fluids until I get a job and money.

August 2002
Finally got a full time job, so she was taken to Engine Exchange. They pulled the motor and shipped it off somewhere to be rebuilt. Details below.

September 2002
Engine Exchange in Norcross pulled the engine and sent it off and said "two weeks." Four weeks later they got the car put back together, only to find the carb was running so rich it was pinging and smelled like gas, and the alternator wasn't charging. Unfortunately, the way their warranty works it only covers stuff inside the engine block, though I suspected something to do with reassembly since both the alternator and the carb are new (well, new a year ago when the car was parked.) So it went off to Hayes, who found a broken connector on a wiring harness causing the alternator problem, but the skipping and pinging was internal to the engine so it went back to Engine Exchange. A few days later they found a rocker arm nut had come loose so a rod was poking out randomly. They fixed that and put it back together and said it was ready. I gave it a test drive and said "No it isn't." It was skipping and charging like crazy. I didn't want it to go back to Hayes in case this was something else that should've been on the Engine Exchange warranty. They looked at it for another day and replaced the points and reset the gap and said it was running great. I gave it a test drive and had to agree - runs and sounds good! I drove it home the next night.

Ford 429 Thunderjet
The newly rebuilt engine. Yeah, I need a better picture. And yeah, I need to have a few more parts cleaned and painted. "Chrome don't make it go fast!" they say.

On the drive home it ran well. Unfortunately, it's still late summer and it really needs A/C. Instead of A/C, I have hot air blowing through the defrost vents in the dash. The fan controls work, after a few seconds delay, but nothing seems to stop the hot air. The A/C doesn't work at all.

October 2002
I took it to Nathan at Reincarnation to look at the transmission problem. I'd read up on the possible problems with the tranny on the Glamorbird mailing list, but I wasn't sure if it's the same problem:

The problem is primarily grommets on the shift linkage rods from the steering column to the transmission. They simply wear out and cause problems. There was a major recall. If memory serves me correctly, there were several nasty accidents where cars left unattended and running went on little excursions on their own. I had a reputable transmission shop service my tranny, fix some seal leaks replace all of these worn out grommets and adjust. Now the shift linkage works like a charm.
By the way, I passed this shop 2 or 3 times a week and frequently saw antique cars in the shop. That gave me some confidence that this shop was familiar with these old C6s. My recommendation to anyone experiencing this problem is to have it fixed ASAP and don't leave your car running unless someone is behind the wheel.
From the Ford Torino pages at www.grantorinosport.atfreeweb.com/articles/powertrain/train01.htm I got this:
If you are having sluggish shifting or other shifting problems, what can you check to determine if your transmission really needs a rebuild? Here are some tips:
Have you checked your vacuum modulator and the rubber line that connects to it. If you end up with an oil leak, this hose usually get soaked and expands, so the modulator isn't getting the vacuum supply it needs. Also you modulator could be bad, take off the hose and see if fluid comes out of the hole, if so, it needs to be replaced. What about your downshift linkage, is it in place? Trans needs to know when you are at full throttle.
Does the fluid still look and smell good, not burnt? If it isn't the modulator, hose or kickdown, then it could be a valve body problem. may have some junk stuck in a valve causing it to stick. If the fluid is burnt, then you probably have slippage and a rebuild would be the best.

Jasper Engines has a handy Adobe Acrobat file that contains flowcharts for troubleshooting your tranny, including the C6:
Turns out it's not the grommets. The shift linkage needed some adjustment, but the real problem is the leaking transmission fluid. It's always low on fluid so it needs to be taken to a transmission shop and serviced. Probably a dead gasket. The wiggly shifter is a worn connection somewhere at the base of the steering column. Fixing it would require pulling the whole steering column out and not really worth it at this point.
The heat problem is caused by a faulty heater control valve that won't shut all the way. Nathan adjusted the settings so that "off" was as low as it could go, and it's considerably better, but I found a heater control valve on ebay so that'll go in soon.
Nathan also reglued the passenger window to the track, and adjusted the carb so it runs a bit smoother.
Then it was off to the muffler shop. Apparently Thunderbirds in the 1960's had four mufflers, one pair mid-car and another pair the end . A previous owner of this car had removed the middle set of mufflers. The muffler shop asked if  I'd like them replaced, saying it would make a slight difference. But I didn't mind the throaty sound even with the old busted mufflers, I just couldn't take the exhaust fumes any more. So I only had them replace the rear mufflers. Both were shot. They had six inch splits along the seams. They also found a dead gasket at the manifold that was causing some of the exhaust leaks. Now she's quiet and not nearly so stinky to drive! They confirmed the transmission leak, right onto the exhaust, so it's not entirely stink-free. Another item for the To Do list...
Later in the month I realized the interior lights weren't working. I vaguely remember them working sometime in the car's history. I replaced the bulbs in the rear, but that didn't change anything. I posted on the glamorbird list and someone suggested looking at the fuses. I'd never looked for the fuses in the car but I remembered they were in the glove box. There's a panel in the right side, held in by a screw. Unfortunately, the back of the panel is cryptic at best describing what fuse is what - you can't tell which way the diagram reads and such. I gave up (I was on my lunch hour.) That night I found the owner's manual and found a much better diagram. Now I just have to get my patience up for trying to get the damn things changed. They're not easy to get to!

I finally got to the fuses in November and found the chart on the fuse panel is upside down. Very confusing. But I did get the fuse for the interior lights replaced and now I can actually see to put the key in the ignition at night.

October 2002
I took it to Firestone and got two new tires for my birthday. They confirmed my fear that the rattle in the front right is a suspension problem - tie rod or idle arm or something - and not the battery rattling around. Guess that's next on the list!

November 2002
I took it to Mighty Muffler on Memorial again. They confirmed it needed the idle arm replaced. They say it'll eventually need a whole front end rebuild and it's cheaper to do it all at once rather than piecemeal. It'll cost around $1500. (Later I would find out it doesn't need the rebuild as badly as they made it seem.)
Also, since it's been raining heavily for months I'm really getting frustrated with the leaks around the windshield and both front doors. The doors don't sit perfectly and the seals around them are shot and some are missing or loose. Since the tranny leak is only slight, this may be next on the To Do list.

But first things first. I was driving down the road a week ago and turned on the heat. I've noticed the fan is slow to spin up if you put it on low, so I've been using the high setting. But it wasn't that cold so I put it on low. A few minutes later it started smelling like smoke. A few seconds after that, gray smoke billowed out of the vents, so I shut off the heater and fan.
I thought maybe it was an electrical fire, but it smelled a lot like burning leaves. I talked to Nathan and he said there's a resistor that kicks in when the fan is on low, basically a coil of wire. This heats up so if any leaves are stuck around there, they may catch on fire. So it went back to the shop for that issue, replacing the heater control valve, adjusting the passenger door so it'll close properly, etc. If only I could find door rubber/seals for the thing it'd be comfy in winter!
He also replaced the points and the distributor cap and tuned the carb a bit so now she runs a little smoother.

January 2003
I was concerned about the 10 mpg so back to the shop it went. (People on the Yahoo Glamorbird group claim to get 18 - 20 mpg on the highway.) On the way to the shop the AC/heat blower started making a horrible racket. Of course it wouldn't make it again while at the shop, but I suspect it's only a matter of time before it dies. Rumor has it they're a hard to find part, and a challenge to swap out. According to someone in the group, the blower motor is accessed by removing the passenger side kick panel, reaching in to disconnect the electrical wire, and remove one screw. Then twist the blower motor and remove it. Various people in the group said they had a tough time getting this done. Either the motor was rusted in place, or they couldn't get things sealed back up properly. Not a fun job, according to all accounts. Another person ended up removing the fender and inner fender to get to the blower and said it was the best way to get at things. Others have mentioned being forced to removed the hood as well. *(&^%$ Ford.
A little tuning later, the car was running well. I'd been noticing a strange squeak/scrape at low speeds, which was determined to be the U-joints wearing out. So that's next on the list. But then when I got it out on the highway it started doing this strange thing as if I had bad gas or an electrical problem - it just starts cutting out then charging back up. So back to the shop it went. Nathan has been baffled by this latest turn of events and is replacing the coil and other components. Stay tuned for the results of that.

March 2003
It's been a long couple of months. The strange problem where the car would only idle or run 5 - 10 mph got worse as I limped it over to ReinCARnation. Nathan replaced the coil but that didn't change a thing. Adjusted the points and timing and still the same problem. He began to suspect the carb wasn't the correct carb so he replaced that. Finally he shrugged and said it might be something internal to the engine since he found oil on the sparkplugs, so it should go back to Engine Exchange.
But before that, it went to Mighty Muffler on Memorial to replace the U-joints. There are two sets of U-joints on a 69 Bird, one front and one back. Both were replaced before it went back to Engine Exchange for the strange engine problem.
They didn't think it was internal and adjusted the timing and points and said it was running fine. I picked it up and it did run pretty well, but I noticed the U-joints (or something under there) was squeaking. I thought it might just be the new joints settling in so I gave it a couple of drives, but the problem went from squeaking to knocking so back it went to Mighty Muffler. Turns out the new U-joints, now nice and strong, were causing other weaknesses to show up, such as a worn rubber bushing in the drive shaft. This is a part nobody makes anymore and there's not much use in replacing it with a used part that'll be just as old and tired as this one, so the drive shaft went to Drive Line (if I remember correctly) to have it removed and replaced with a solid steel job. (I'm starting to feel like I live in Cuba.) If you want more on drive shafts, see our section on drive shafts for Thunderbirds.
The car runs well. However, I fully expect it to start with the engine problem again, since nobody could find a definitive problem. I haven't driven it enough to determine the mileage (and at current gas prices it may be a while), and it still needs new wheels to stop the shake. So next time I have some money (which will be a while after the last round of repairs) the priorities are new wheels and electronic ignition.
A few days later, I take back what I said about the car running well. It skips unless you push the gas pedal down a good ways for about the first 15 minutes you drive it. It levels out after a while, but clearly something is still wrong with it. I'll check the plugs this weekend but they're new and should be clean, dammit.
I am almost sick of this car.

April 1, 2003
I'd gotten tired of hauling this car to the shop and having it tweaked, only to have it run like crap again three days later. The answer has consistently been "Well, I adjusted the points and the timing a little..." Everyone on the Yahoo Glamorbird group raved about replacing points with electronic ignition so I called up Lincoln Parts International and ordered the Pertronics Electronic Ignition kit. Rumor has it even a mechanically ignorant novice like myself can do this switch in 10 minutes. I didn't even know what "points" looked like, but I was able to do the job. See our How To guide for the details.
- my problems are gone and it's been running great for a month. If I'd known it was gonna be this easy I'd have done it a year ago, and all for under $100.
Sometime this spring (I've forgotten when) I found a set of front floormats on ebay that looked like they might be the correct year (I couldn't find pictures of someone's floormats at the time.) My car had no floormats, but my mechanic had stuck a set of Lincoln floor mats in the front for me. So I bought them and it turns out they were correct, though not in perfect shape. I think I paid around $20 for 'em and I'm happy with them.

April 2003
I hit the junkyard in search of wheels. The variety of wheels used by Ford is absurd - 14", 15", 16", 4 lugs, 5 lugs, bolt patterns of 4", 4.5", 4.75", 5"...
The back right wheel on the car was bent, so there's a bit of a shake in the car that just gets worse the faster I go. The rims for Thunderbirds through '71 are 5 lug x 4 1/2", 15" x 8", but you also have to make sure to get wheels with deep enough backspacing to clear the disc brakes on the front. For 1969, you could only get standard steel wheels, but your choice of different wheel covers, the Deluxe wheel covers which some describe as "Turbine" wheel covers, and the "Magnum" styled steel wheel covers, available in 5 colors - Candyapple Red, Brittany Blue, Midnight Aqua, Champagne Gold, and Oxford Gray. Oxford Gray was the default color that you got if your car's paint didn't match one of the other colors, and the ones in the other colors are somewhat rare.
They look like this:

I've seen these on ebay from time to time, but I can't ever afford 'em.

I found an LTD or some other big old Ford with four wheels that were the correct diameter and bolt pattern and pulled them off. I took them to the shade tree tire place next door and had them swapped. One of them is still a little warped so I may go back one more time for one that is a little more true, and a spare while I'm at it. But now I can go over 60 mph without feeling like the car is going to shake itself apart. But as loose as the front end is, it's something of a scary experience.
I got some wheelcovers off ebay that aren't correct, but I like 'em. So do my cats, apparently.

Looks like they're off a mid-70's bird like this: autohobbypage.com/cgi-bin/image.pl?/photo/tbird/76bird1.jpg

One rainy day in April I reached over to turn on the wipers and felt the knob crack in my hand. The switch has always been a little sticky so I have to crank it a little harder than normal and the 35 year old plastic couldn't take it any more. I got a hose clamp to hold it together temporarily, but a new knob went on the needs list..

Later in the month I went back to the junkyard and got another wheel. It's much better, but there's still a little vibration starting around 70 mph. This could be the junkyard wheels, the aforementioned problems with the drive shaft, something to do with the front end, or something else yet to be discovered. But the car is getting better bit by bit! I'm taking it in to get the windshield replaced and a gas fume problem tracked down this week.

May 1, 2003
The new windshield looks good. The tinted stripe across the top is supposed to be bluish, not the yellowish color it had become after 35 years. My mechanic has a guy that does windshields cheap. Instead of the list price of $700, it cost me $330 - score!
The gas smell turned out to be a loose connection at the fuel filter, so the car doesn't smell like a gaspump any more.
Now I have to decide what to tackle next - the leaking transmission, the loose front end, the dead A/C, the stereo...

Spoke too soon, as usual. Brand new windshield cracked the next day. Either it was a defect in the glass or it was installed poorly. Either way, a new one was reinstalled at no cost and it looks good.

May 17, 2003
I got the correct radio bezel for the stereo model earlier in the week so I decided to swap out the AM radio with the AM/FM stereo I'd had for a while but never gotten around to installing. For details on removing the AM radio or installing the AM/FM stereo see our How To guide.

June, 2003
The front end gets a little looser all the time, and it leaks transmission fluid like mad, but it's June in Atlanta so you know what's next on the priority list - Air Conditioning. It's headed to the shop soon to see what the problem is. While it's there, I hope they stumble onto the persistent rainwater leak.
I took it to ReinCARnation and Nathan dug around for a while and found that there is a vacuum leak somewhere between the A/C control switch and the vent flap that controls the flow. The flap will open for a moment, then slowly sink back down, cutting off the air. In addition, the compressor comes on and blows cold air for a few minutes, but it quickly loses it's cool, so to speak. So it needs the Freon replaced. Of course, this car is old and would need to be updated to the new non-ozone-harming stuff, but fortunately someone finally came up with a solution so you don't have to rebuild anything, you just drain the Freon and replace it with Freeze 12, an EPA-approved substitute.
Nathan also dug around in search of the leak, with pointers from me thanks to the glamorbird group on Yahoo. He's not sure where the leak is coming from that ends up dripping off the bottom of the dash, but the ones along the top of the interior windshield trim probably indicate some rust holes under there. He'll have to pull the windshield to get at those, so the car will be returning to the shop when he's got a place for it inside. Stay tuned.

July 2003
The leak under the dash turned out to be a bunch of rust holes where the dash, firewall and cowl meet. A fresh air vent there tends to fill with garbage, resulting in rust. The dash will have to come out and new metal welded in place. When the dash comes out he'll also be able to track down the A/C vacuum line leaks and install the speakers in the dash. But I couldn't afford to have that done so I'm suffering through July and August in Hotlanta with no A/C and a big black-roofed car with a black vinyl interior. The drive home ain't any fun at all.
If you're experiencing leaks in your car, here's what the folks on the Glamorbird group mentioned as possible causes:

August 2003
While at the big annual Drive Invasion, one of the passenger windows came off the track and fell down into the door. That got fixed, along with a few other little problems.

January 2004
I took it to ReinCARnation and had Nathan do the leak repairs that I've been stalling on. There was a persistent leak in the passenger side, dripping from the bottom of the dash. There's a bunch of rust holes where the dash, firewall and cowl meet. There's a pocket there that Ford had filled full of epoxy or something to prevent it filling full of water. The epoxy was rotted, but was the only thing left - the surrounding metal was all rusted away. Nathan riveted some galvanized steel in there to replace it and filled the cavity with new epoxy.
The AM/FM I got on ebay didn't work - bummer. But I had Nathan install the under-dash Radio Shack 8-Track player I got, still new in the box, off ebay. Now I rock out to the warbling, hissing sound of such 70's classics as The Edgar Winter Group and Jesus Christ Superstar. I'd forgotten what a crappy format 8-tracks really were. So now I want to get the bucket seats and console so I can use the console to hide a CD player, maybe keep the 8-Track in there too just for the heck of it, and get the AM/FM replaced. If I came into some big money I'd have the AM/FM rebuilt by Tayman Electrical. But it'd have to be found money or something 'cause I don't wanna cough up $400 just to have the original radio look with modern radio guts.
Nathan finally adjusted the passenger door hinge so that it closes properly. The door edge trim didn't fit properly afterward, but it was banged up anyway so it was tossed.

February 2004
I had a fat tax return coming, so I decided to have the front end looked at. About the time I made that decision, I noticed the distinct smell of antifreeze/coolant whenever I turned the heat on, an indication of a bad heater core. In some old cars, this is a nightmare job as everything is behind the dash. However, in the 69 Thunderbird you can do the whole operation under the hood. The shop manuals say all you have to do is remove the hood and the transmission fluid tube, but that is entirely incorrect. According to my mechanic and several people online who've performed this operation, you need to remove the hood, remove the two hydraulic lines for the wipers, remove the oil pressure sending unit from the back of the intake manifold, then maybe also remove the trans dipstick and tube.
The car also went to the suspension shop for an estimate on a rebuild. The shop said it didn't need a rebuild, it was just way out of alignment. My mechanic looked as well and concurred. So instead of $1500, it was $45. The guys at Mighty Muffler who'd done some work on the front end before apparently were exaggerating the need for a front end rebuild and hadn't done the alignment properly. This is the first good news I've had on this car since I got it.
I also picked up a new wiper knob off ebay.
Maybe my luck is changing!

March 2004
I salvaged another AM/FM and finally got it installed! Anyone know why I'd get a buzz in the stereo when the engine is on? See our How To page for theories and details.

After rolling around in the floor getting the radio working (except for the aforementioned buzz), I noticed a couple of sockets for lights under the dash. One had a bulb in it that was blown, probably due to the water that used to drip on it. The other didn't even have a bulb, so I replaced the bulbs and I now have light in the car when I open the door!

I decided if I'm gonna replace the headliner, seats and carpet I might as well do something fun with it. So instead of going with correct or matching replacements, I'm going for style. This weekend I removed the headliner first. I haven't gotten a replacement yet, but I wanted to see if I had any rust holes in the roof before I got that far. The details are in the How To page. Once I got the headliner and insulation out, I found a little rust but it's only surface rust. I don't know where the leak is that's coming in at the top of the windshield, but now that the headliner is out of the way I hope to spot the leak before I try to replace the headliner.

A few days after I removed the headliner, I found the rust treatment paint I wanted (a Rustoleum product, chemically bonds with rust, good stuff) and painted the rusty spots and pushed the brush down behind the rails all the way around the ceiling. I still have a leak that's coming in at the top of the windshield above the steering wheel, but I'm giving up on that one for now. It's a little drip that runs down the inside of the windshield or drips onto the top of the steering wheel whenever it rains hard.

I found the one piece of rubber I was missing from the driver's door on a parts car, part # C85B-5720567-B-1-1-L, I think. It's not it good shape, but it's better than none at all. I cleaned it up with some dish soap and water and used Black RTV in some of the cracks to keep it in one piece, then put it on the car. There's a lot less wind noise at 70 mph now! Two or three of the windows need to be reset so that they're aligned properly when the doors are closed (there's a big gap at the post on the rear driver's window, and the front passenger window bangs into the post.)

April 2004
I replaced the headliner with a couple of tiki-style cabana mats and it looks very cool. The details are in our How To page.

Later in the month, I wanted to reinstall the 8 track player I'd gotten off ebay. It had worked when it was first installed a couple of months back, but later I got the AM/FM stereo and disconnected the 8-track until I could figure out how to get them both working. I hit Radio Shack and found the old electronic geeks that used to run the place have been replaced by highschoolers who know absolutely nothing about electronics - their only job is to push cell phones.
I made my best guess and picked out a switch with three positions and only one lead for each position. Center = power, then the other two go to the two components. The components are grounded through the car, so it should've been an easy job. Just hook up the power supply to the switch, then run the power lines from the stereo and 8 track to the other two leads. A couple of days later I had it all hooked up but the 8 track refused to play. I tested the switch and it works as I had hoped. I removed the switch from the system and tried just the 8 track wired to the power, also removing the stereo from the equation, and the 8 track still refused to work. It has a fuse in its power line, but it looks fine. Just in case, I removed that from the line too. No luck. The damned thing just wouldn't play. I gave up. Maybe one of these days I'll get back into the whole disaster again.

I picked up a NOS clock on ebay so when I get around to building or refinishing a new gauge panel I'll install that, as well as looking into the radio buzz problem. But that will probably be a while because it was due to go into the shop for the A/C problem and a few other small issues. Unfortunately, the transmission stopped shifting into third the day before, so off to the shop it goes for bigger problems.


May 2004
The t-bird tranny was shot, so it was pulled and practically rebuilt. It shifts fine now and doesn't leak as much, so that's nice. On the down side, it cost me an arm and a leg and I couldn't afford the A/C repairs as a result. The day I picked it up, my girlfriend was laid off so it looks like it might be yet another summer in Hotlanta without A/C.
It also leaks a little oil, which bugs me because it shouldn't after the engine rebuild.
I got the radio and 8 track working. See the How To page for details. I still have the buzz in both the radio and the 8 track, possibly due to the radio suppression coil. I ordered the part from Green Sales Company and it doesn't look like the part described by people who've had the same problem. I hope to get to it soon, so stay tuned.

August 2004
I did some more work on the headliner and built my own arm rests. See the How To page for details.

September 2004
It started leaking coolant somewhere. I poked around and found my year-old heater control valve was shot. The seams were all corroded away. I bypassed it for the day and took for the parts store to order a replacement and fixed it the next day. When working on it, I noticed my coolant was extremely rusty. This shouldn't be, especially with the rebuilt motor and regular tune-ups. I drained it, flushed it as best I could, and refilled with fresh coolant and water. I drove it for a couple of days and checked again. This time there was a massive, muddy clod of buildup on the bottom of the radiator cap. It looked like a ball of red clay. the inside of the radiator was covered in it. I called my mechanic and he said check the transmission fluid. If it's low it could be that the transmission cooler, located inside the radiator, is leaking and transmission fluid and contaminating the system. Sure enough, my transmission (which shouldn't be leaking any more since I had it worked on a few months back) was low on fluid. So I flushed everything out again as best I could and picked up an external transmission cooler, a little radiator you install in front of the A/C radiator, bypassing the internal transmission radiator. I took it to the shop so they could flush the cooling system properly and they had to pull the radiator and boil it out overnight it was so full of gunk.

January 2005
I got a big hunk of metal in one of my tires on my way to work one morning. I had to change the tire and in the process noticed the front tires were both badly worn on the inside. Apparently the alignment job I'd gotten a while back either hadn't been done right, or the car won't hold the alignment properly. I took the beast to Firestone up the street and got two new front tires and an alignment job. The car shakes a little less now, so that's good. On the down side (there's always a down side), one of the tires was slowly leaking out the air. I took it back and they looked at it and couldn't find anything wrong with it. Apparently they had it up on the lift all night and with the weight off the tire it wasn't leaking, because after I started driving it I noticed it was low again a couple of days later, so back it went. They took the tire off and found the junkyard rims have a lot of rust on them and with the cold weather that's probably causing the seam to leak a bit. They covered it in black goo and put the tire back on and it seems to be fine for now, but it's yet another indication I need new wheels on this beast. I can't afford them though, especially since the car is going to have to get some body work done soon. With the winter winds and rain, the leaks are getting worse and worse. There are two or three drips across the top of the windshield and the one that trickles water down the front passenger kickpanel is back. The vinyl roof will have to come off and whatever leaks are there repaired. Unfortunately, this means all the work I did on the headliner will probably have to come out. Then it'll need a paint job, which is good because I hate the color, but I can't afford it. So if you've got $2500 laying around and nothing to do with it...

May/June 2005
I couldn't do another summer in Hotlanta in a car with a black vinyl roof and interior, and one that has warm air blowing through the vents all the time. So I planned to drop the car off at ReinCARnation while I'd be on vacation. Then the alternator died. Got that fixed and drove home, only to have the water pump die. I had it towed to ReinCARnation and left for vacation. Got back and the water pump was fixed but Nathan was a too busy to complete the AC and had to do some hunting for parts. Eventually the parts arrived, only to be defective. They arrived again and were installed.
Meanwhile, my radiator was still full of sludge so he took it to the AC/radiator shop around the corner and had them boil it out. (This has been a consistent problem with this car and I don't believe it should be with a rebuilt engine and the radiator boiled out once already. I'm more and more convinced Engine Exchange didn't do a good job with the engine rebuild. It still leaks just about every fluid it can.) After the cooling system was cleaned out, they charged the A/C system and got it to blow cool air. There's still a problem with the blend doors and directional control so you can't control where the cool air comes out. But I needed the car back so I took it anyhow.
The next day the belts were squeaking and squealing.  I took it to a little shop across from work, S&S or something like that. They're mostly Hispanic mechanics who seem to know their stuff and seemed trustworthy. They took one look at it and said it wasn't a belt tension issue, it needed a new flywheel. I found a rebuilt one online for $160 or so and ordered it. I was on the way home from work and hit the usual Atlanta traffic. It got hot, as it will on a June day in a traffic jam, so I hit the AC and enjoyed a few minutes of cool air, before the belts started squealing again. I turned off the AC but a few minutes later it blew a belt and overheated. So I spent Saturday learning how to change belts on the car - not a fun weekend. Now I'm just waiting on the flywheel to arrive so I can get it installed and see if it'll really blow cold air without breaking something.

June/July 2005
The new flywheel arrived and I watched it get installed. (You need a steering-wheel-puller-like device to get the old one off.) The car ran fine at idle, even with the AC on max. But when I took it for a test drive it began to overheat again. Back at the shop, the alternator belt was shredded again. We couldn't figure out why it was doing this. I had noticed the flywheel and other belt wheels had three grooves for belts but only two belts on them, but I hadn't thought about it. So I asked Nathan. He said, "Because your original alternator probably had two belts. Duh." The current alternator wheel only has one belt groove so it's doing the job of two. It's worked fine for 4 years because the AC hasn't been working, but with the extra pull the AC compressor is putting on the system the single belt can't hack it. So he pulled the double wheel off a parts car in his yard and replaced it on the alternator - poof, problem solved. The AC blows cool (not cold, but cool) and everything else seems to run better on the car. I think this may also be the reason I've had a new alternator die on the car, and a new battery. Somewhere along the line someone replaced the alternator with a single belt model, and everyone that's replaced it since has done the same without realizing it was supposed to have two belts.

I got some Christmas in July money from my father and decided to use it on a new steering wheel, and the solid state blinker replacement unit from Cougars Unlimited. No, neither of them are original and correct, but obviously I'm not going for original/correct on this car. See my How To page if you're curious about the installation.

July 2005
I noticed a small puddle of coolant under the car after driving to work. I hoped it was just overflow into the cracked overflow jug, but I topped off the radiator anyhow and kept my eye on the temperature gauge. It seemed ok on the drive home, but when I arrived I noticed a steady drip of coolant nowhere near the overflow reservoir. Back to the shop she went. Apparently the gasket wasn't put on perfectly so there was a bit of a leak around the water pump and timing cover area. Once that was fixed it was pressure tested, only to spring a leak at the hose going into the water pump due to a bad flange. That got fixed.
Then my wipers wouldn't turn off. The switch was a bit flakey since I took the dash apart trying, unsuccessfully, to figure out how to put in a new clock. That was fixed and now she's driving fine. So next up is the steering wheel, then the completion of the arm rests - at least that's next for the work I can do. She still has a leak in the roof and needs paint, as well as a redo of the interior.

September 2005
I got a nice wood steering wheel off ebay. It looks more like a Mustang steering wheel than the T-bird one, but it's comfortable and has a Ford logo on the horn button. It wasn't difficult to put on, though the instructions could've been easier to follow.

October 2005
The t-bird had been making popping and squeaking noises in the front end forever, but lately they'd been getting worse. The power steering had also been groaning more lately, and leaking more fluid than usual. And my new front tires were badly worn on the inside, though it had been aligned when I'd gotten the tires at Firestone. I took it back to Firestone, hoping this was just an alignment problem, and a leak in a power steering fluid line. They found a leak alright - in the power steering gearbox, which had been spraying fluid onto the front end suspension causing the rubber to rot. It had probably been doing this for ages. The power steering gearbox had to be replaced, along with a bunch of front end parts. It was costly, but now it doesn't shake when I hit 60 mph any more. On the down side, Firestone obviously bumped a pole moving the car and put a big dent in the front right fender. They were very nice about it and had a check cut as soon as I got an estimate, but it was still a pain in the ass.

November/December 2005: Before I could get the dent fixed, another problem popped up. I was driving home and a guy on a motorcycle pulled up next to me and told me I had turn signals, but no brake lights. I hoped this was a problem with the new sequential turn signal unit I'd gotten from Cougars Unlimited, but according to them it was more likely a turn signal switch problem. They didn't carry the one for the 69 Thunderbird, so I had to go hunting. It's a very difficult part to find, made even more so because there were very few of them made without the tilt steering wheel and/or cruise control. The first one I found was from Green Sales Company. It was the right part, but looked like a rebuilt switch rather than new, and $175. I had the guys at Hayes doing the work and they put the switch in and it worked - for a minute, then died. Searching again, I found one through T-bird Sanctuary for $240. The wires were all colored differently than the original, but the part came with a sheet describing what color should go where. Unfortunately, their sheet didn't match their own part. As complicated as these switches are, the guys at Hayes said it would be easier to find another one that was correct rather than pay for the labor it would take to figure the mess out. I searched again and found Bob's Thunderbirds through Hemming's. He's down in Ft. Lauderdale, 954.491.6652. He had one that was correct and worked so, 4 weeks after this mess began, I got the car back. The switch is stiff and doesn't automatically cut off after you turn the wheel. The steering wheel was also put back on crooked, and my horn button (on the after-market steering wheel) was put on upside-down. But I wasn't willing to go back to Hayes. They are about to close for good, since their building is being demolished for some new development, and it was obvious they weren't motivated to do the good job they usually did. This has been one of the longest and most expensive repairs on the car - just for a damn turn signal switch. If you're having problems with yours, see this Glamorbird site.

I customized the headlight doors so they would remain closed at all times, cutting holes in the doors so that the headlights shine through the grill. You can read about it on my How To page.

January 2006
I finally got around to painting the battery box parts I salvaged back in September and putting them into the car. It is obvious someone had a bit of a problem with the battery in this car at some point. The floor of the battery box area was rusted clean through. It looked like the scene in Alien when the guy spills the alien's blood on the floor, as you can see in this before picture. There were a couple of hunks of 2x12 board jammed in there to keep the battery from falling through.
So I salvaged some of the parts from a car back in September and this month I finally got around to cleaning them up. I used a grinder with a wire brush wheel, then covered them in rust treatment and a coat of paint. The floor under the battery basket is rusted through so most of the holes you'd use to attach the basket portion are gone, but it's better than it was. I got a battery hold-down kit off ebay somewhere and now things look much better: after picture. Unfortunately, batteries have changed in 35 years and the one I have is not as tall as the one the hold-down kit was designed for. The rods are too long (or not threaded far enough down the shaft.) So I had to put one of the 2x12 boards back under the battery so it would be tall enough for the clamp to stay in place. You can see a bit of it in this picture of the battery box with the battery in it.

Then I took the car to Nathan to help me look at the turn signal switch problem. We found the problem - the thing just wasn't put back together correctly back in December. So he showed me how to fix it and left me to it. I put everything back together, then went back to salvaging some parts I'd wanted from one of his parts cars. I spent the rest of the day wrestling with parts cars and suddenly it was 5. I drove out with a trunk full of parts and noticed as I turned the corner my steering wheel was crooked, again, and my turn signal switch wasn't clicking off.
Two days later the horn started going off without the button being pushed.
I pulled the horn button off and disconnected one of the wires. This weekend I'm going to pull it all apart and try, try again.

February 2006
I pulled the steering wheel off again and found that the little cylindrical cam inside the turn signal switch had worked itself loose again. It wouldn't stay in place when everything was put together once you started turning the steering wheel. So I pulled it apart again and took the cam out. Now my turn signal switch doesn't automatically turn off after turning the wheel, but at least the turn signals work. I fixed the problem with the horn too.

I decided to keep the money Firestone had paid me for the dent repair and use it toward a paint job and fix the fender myself. I found a parts car and spent all damn day getting the fender off. There are far more bolts than I believe necessary. One bolt is all but impossible to get to without taking half the damn car apart. You have to take out the cornering lamp, not an easy chore in itself, then reach up into the front above the bumper and pull off a rubber stopper off the head of a bolt, then get a wrench in there and bit by bit get the bolt off. Fortunately the owner of the parts car didn't mind loosening the bumper (he even helped), which gave us enough room to get that bolt off and free the fender.
A week later I returned and swapped the fenders. Without removing the bumper, I couldn't figure out how to replace that impossible bolt so I just didn't. This job is NOT as easy as I thought it would be. Getting the fender to fit on at all was tricky and none of the gaps look good. I've tweaked it a few times and done the best I could, but I think my hood and passenger door need re-hanging and my front bumper is a bit bent. Not to mention the fact that the "new" fender is dark green. The car looks so ghetto unfabulous right now it's sad. But it saved  me some money I can use toward the paint job!
Pictures of the fender swap operation coming soon.

Nathan also covered the area around the fan in the engine compartment with some black gooey sealant to try to stop the leak that comes in around the passenger kickpanel. I cleaned out the drain that is supposed to allow water to flow from the area behind the hood, under the cowl, down behind the fender, so water shouldn't be building up back there any more - at least until it fills up with leaves and junk again.

I was also able to get the overhead convenience check package from a parts car, as well as the turn signal indicator thing that sits on the rear deck. Both of these were easy to remove and should be fairly easy to install, so look for those operations coming soon.

I've spent some time working on the tiki heads for the interior. When I get one in place I'll have pictures.

I did some work on the grill emblem. See the How To page for details.

March 2006
I finished two tiki heads that surround the interior lights in the rear pillars. I'll post pictures soon.

I also installed the Rear Lamp Monitor I'd salvaged out of a parts car.
"Rear Lamp Monitor, mounted on rear package tray, tells driver at a glance if all taillamps are functioning properly. If a bulb is out, monitor pinpoints exactly which one! Driver views monitor through rear view mirror. This option is rarely seen, and was only available for the 1968 and 1969 model years." according to Automotive Mileposts.
It's a super simple install. The "wires" are nothing but plastic fiber optic cables. There is no electrical work involved at all. If there were, how would you know it wasn't your wiring or a bulb in the unit rather than a tail lamp? You have to drill a hole in the rear deck lid and holes in the tail lamp panel in the trunk, then connect everything. But it works perfectly. Photos coming soon.

The oil pressure gauge had been reading low, but the dipstick was reading "safe," for a long time now. But this month the gauge was at a new low and rarely moving at all. I was also putting in a quart of power steering fluid a week. I posted a message on the Yahoo Glamorbird group and asked folks to identify the leaking hose. See pictures here and here. It's a pressure release hose amongst the windshield wiper stuff. I got a good used one through T-bird Sanctuary. It wasn't the precisely same part - the rubber portion was a bit longer, but with some bending and twisting and such, it fit in place.
The oil pressure gauge issue turned out to be a blown sending unit - a a little UFO-looking thing on the back of the motor, hidden by some hoses and such. Swapping that out made the gauge read normally again and the motor sounds better, so apparently I've been driving around with low oil pressure. Dumbass.

I ordered carpet from Obsolete & Classic Auto Parts. When it arrives I'll have a review of their parts. Their service by phone seemed very friendly and quick. First week in April I'll be getting the carpet and recovered seats installed, I hope!

April 2006
I had Complete Interior in Chamblee reupholster the salvaged bucket seats and rear seat I'd gotten last year. The foam in the buckets was shot and nobody makes the stuff. I couldn't find another shop in Atlanta that could custom build the stuff. Complete Interior charged me about twice what I'd wanted to pay ($2750) but they look fabulous.
I spent 12 hours at Nathan's putting in the new carpet and seats, riveting aluminum sheeting over rust holes, wrangling wiring in the electric seats, etc.
The carpet looked pretty good. It was missing two extra sections that would be glued to the posts between the front and rear doors. However, as I'm leaving a lot of black in the car I don't mind this small bit of carpet being black, as it matches the rest of the post.

May 2006
ReinCARnation may move so I made one last trip before things got chaotic for him, and for me as I am due to move soon as well. I had the valve cover gaskets and a power steering return hose replaced. Now my car doesn't smoke and reek of smoldering fluids as much. Nathan was not able to find the problem with the warm air always blowing. "I flipped every flap in the damn car," he grumbled. So instead we bypassed the heater box. This still hasn't solved the problem. Apparently it's just a hot damn engine. I'm wondering if I don't have holes in the firewall that are allowing hot air from the engine compartment into the interior.
My driver's power seat has fully functioning motors, but lacks the wiring harness. I'm going to have to dredge that out of a parts car before I can move the seat. We adjusted it with a battery to my liking, but eventually I might let someone else drive the car.

August 2006
It's been a long hot summer - the A/C didn't work this year, AGAIN. I didn't have a second vehicle to drive so that I could leave the t-bird in the shop either, so I had to drive it, complete with warm air oozing through the floor and a black vinyl roof, all summer.
Right as things cooled down I got a second vehicle, a 1993 Subaru wagon, so I could put the t-bird in the shop. The day I picked up the wagon the Thunderbird started running poorly. It sounds as if it has bad fuel or an ignition problem of some sort. I put half a tank of gas from a different station in the car and that didn't change anything. I changed the plugs, distributor cap and rotor button - nothing. Sounds like a distributor or carb problem, either of which is beyond my abilities, so back to the shop it goes, as soon as my mechanic has a slot ready for it. The windows need re-gluing again, the fender I put on needs some minor tweaking, the A/C needs attention sometime, and I think I'm close to getting ready to have the body work and paint done. The leak that oozes into the passenger floor every time it rains is getting worse, so before winter comes I'd like to have that taken care of!

After moving, I didn't have a lot of time and money to devote to the T-bird, but I have done a few things.

The car has some horrible blind spots due to the broad rear pillars - style over function. A "right exterior rearview mirror" was an option that was only $6.95 in '69 so you'd think everyone would've gotten them. But no, they're extremely rare. You can't find the right hand mirrors for the T-bird for less than $300, if the person knows what they've got. (One was on ebay in March 2005 and sold for $355, another in June 2005 sold for $300.)  I gave in and got a matching pair of mirrors for other full-size Fords from the era off Ebay, both sides with remote cables, and had them installed. They're not in the precise same position as the originals would be - the pillars aren't angled as sharply so the head sits a little lower on the car - but they match, they both have remote cables, and they look nice on the car.

I finally got my mechanic to wire up the driver's seat controls. The passenger seat still does nothing when you click the recline button but it's not high on the priority list.

I tracked down a washer fluid jug from a 1970 Thunderbird. It's about the same size and shape but the tabs where the bolt holes are located are in different places so I had to do some creative work to get the thing in. In the process, I had to remove a vacuum can that was for the headlights. I tossed it, since it leaked and I no longer use the vacuum-operated doors anyhow. Fortunately one of the washer fluid pumps I'd gotten off another old jug still worked, so with the rubber grommet and some Black RTV, I was able to get the jug installed, working and holding liquid. Since then, one of the lines running to the spouts has come loose or gotten clogged or something, but the system worked for a while.

There was a radiator overflow jug in the car that was cracked open. However, according to T-bird Sanctuary, the 69 Thunderbird didn't have an overflow jug. Mine looked like it should be there, so either it was an old one someone put there, or my car is not standard. (I already know my car is not standard after the whole gas tank snafu.) When I replaced the windshield washer fluid jug, I tossed the radiator overflow jug.

I haven't done any more woodwork or tiki efforts this spring, but it's on the To Do list. At the moment, I'm working on a 1978 Ford F100 pickup that needs a few things before it can become a daily driver. Then I can put the T-bird back on the top of the priority list and hope to have the money together this summer to have the body work and paint done. Stay tuned.

August 2007
The car has always done this certain peculiar thing. If you stomp on the gas, or if you have to climb a very steep hill, there is a strange GRONK sound in the motor and the gear shifter moves up/left as if trying to drop out of drive. My mechanic found a busted motor mount, allowing the engine to move more than it should, causing the fan to grind against the housing.

September 2007
The Tiki Bird has a long, torrid history with Drive Invasion, my favorite local festival. It seems like every year the car is running perfectly until I try to get to the festival. This year was no exception. I got there, no problem, but then when I decided to move the car over one parking spot it wouldn't start. It was the old ignition switch problem come back to haunt me. This time no wire-jiggling would fix the problem. But I was able to get power to the radio and such when the key was in a certain position - not quite clicked into "on" but close. With the key there, it was relatively easy to jump the starter solenoid to the battery and start it that way. I'm broke, so the car sits in the drive way awaiting time and money - again.
Eventually I got it to the shop and had this problem addressed. Meanwhile, my 1979 Ford F100 has been giving me problems, taking up what little spare money and time I have.

I bought a house a while back and all my time and money have been spent on repairs and renovation.

September-October 2008
Because the car has no A/C, blows warm air and has a big black roof I didn't drive it much this summer. So when I got in it to try to start it for the first time in a couple of months it didn't want to go. I suspected a dead battery and tried to jump it with no luck. Eventually I replaced the starter solenoid, the ignition switch and got a replacement kit that was sent out around 1970, but never installed in my car, for the connectors to the back of the ignition switch. Apparently the original tended to short out, as you can see has happened in my car a few times.

But even after all these fixes the car was resistant. The neutral safety switch needs adjusting, so I have to hold the shift lever up and to the left while trying to start it, which turned out to be one of the many problems. The other was a dead battery. I'm pretty sure this car has gotten a new battery every other year since I've owned it. It's got a new alternator, so I don't think that's the issue. (I'm sure not driving it for months at a time didn't help.) I dropped a new battery in it and she ran like a top, just in time for gas prices to drop.

January, 2009
A while back I added matching, though not correct, side view mirrors with remote to the car. The driver's side joystick was in the mouth of the tiki head at the end of the arm rest:

But the passenger mirror cable was long, intended to reach some place in the dash or console. So for a year or so, the passenger tiki head waited on the adjustment:

I went to Pull-A-Part, one of those junkyards where you pull the parts yourself, and got a few extra driver's side mirrors so that I could pull the guts out of them and use the shorter cable inside my passenger-side housing. Easy, right? No. Damn near impossible. I suspect that if you ever took the car to the dealer to have the mirror glass replaced, Ford would've had to either replace the whole thing, housing and all, or at least had the entire assembly - glass, cable and joystick - already pre-assembled. If not, they must have some specialized tools and at least some parts already assembled. The brackets that hold the joystick assembly together are lead or pot metal and obviously not meant to be taken apart again once they're put together. I went through all 3 spares just trying to get one apart and back together again with all the parts undamaged. I have photos of the operation I may post if I'm ever motivated. But eventually I got it together so now my passenger-side tiki has his joystick tongue. (This also frees me from having to account for the joystick in my console when I get around to customizing it.)

March 2009
I spent a couple of weeks carving a tiki to replace the console. The console in my car was badly faded and chipped. The sliding door wouldn't operate properly. The arm rest door lock was busted. Most of these things could've been fixed, but why bother when you can do this?

I plan on putting a new stereo inside the old compartment behind the door. If a stereo won't fit in there I may just put the old plastic box back in until I think of something clever to do with the space.

Next up is the body work it desperately needs, both for beauty and to stop the roof leaks. Then I'll replace other interior parts with wood and tikis, all in matching wood instead of the mix I have now.

January 2010: A 9 month ordeal with the body shop resulted in a pretty paint job that needs some minor touch up. New rubber didn't fit as well as it should, so the windows still rattle and leak. There are welding burn marks in the passenger seat. But tiki efforts continue. Next up, replacing the plastic fake wood panel around the guages with real wood, probably with a tiki head carved into it. Stay tuned.

Old Photos

1969 Thunderbird grill

New Photos

I plan on putting a new stereo inside the old compartment behind the door. If a stereo won't fit in there I may just put the old plastic box back in until I think of something clever to do with the space.

I've replaced the crumbling, warped arm rests with wood, covered in a burl walnut veneer, and added tiki heads to various places in the car.

For example, passenger door before:

Passenger door after:

There is a hole for the remote die view mirror control in the tiki head's mouth, but I have yet to take apart the mirror and shorten the cable so that the control can go here.

(This one now has the mirror joystick in place.)

Driver's side

I also put a tiki head around the lights in the rear pillars and replaced the vinyl insert with wood and veneer.

Rear passenger arm rest, already scratched.


Here's what I have so far:

'69 Thunderbird Info

I get emails from time to time like this:

I passed a '69 T-Bird for sale, asking $5,500 with an odometer of 68000. It looks good, all black, coupe.
My question is about the horse-power. At 4000 lbs, does 300+ move the car? Is it fast?
I read your entire page, but you don't have any commentary about what it is like to "own a '69 T-Bird".
Do you recommend the investment?

Or "what is it like to drive a t-bird?"

What is it like to drive?
The 1969 Thunderbird came with a 429 cubic inch engine with something like 360 horsepower, plenty to move the car. However, it is not a muscle car. If it's tire-smoking performance you're looking for, this ain't it. This is a luxury car with more horsepower than it really needs. It's slow at 0-40 mph for a car with this large an engine. But it impresses me going from, say, 40-80 mph.
It handles fairly well for a car of it's size. My only complaint is the feather-touch power steering. I think power-assisted steering is a superior technological advance. At higher speeds it's very easy to oversteer with old power steering. It takes some getting used to, particularly if you've been driving a modern car for a while.
Overall, I enjoy driving it. You won't see many others like it and some people don't even know what it is. The car has very few markers on it - small "THUNDERBIRD" lettering between the tail lamps is the only place the name appears on the exterior of the car. There's the big Thunderbird emblem on the grill, and a couple of tiny ones elsewhere, but otherwise it's oddly unmarked. People that recognize it usually say "My dad had one of those." Which makes it fun - it's an almost-forgotten oddity.
In addition, the suicide doors (on the 4 door model, obviously) are a great eye-catcher and conversation starter, though functionally they're inferior to standard doors (you have to take turns when multiple people try to get into the same side of the car at the same time.)

Should I buy one?
As for "investment," I'd say if you can find a good deal it might be a worthy car. It could increase in value, as they are finally getting noticed (see the mention in Hemmings below.)
I can't say if $5,500 is worth it because I haven't seen the car, but I'd hesitate to pay that much. I've seen them on ebay every week or two for far less. Body and interior parts are not easy to find for this car since there's not enough demand out there for someone to remanufacture new parts. (Engine parts are very easy to find, however.)
But I don't like to think of cars as financial investments, so I'm probably the wrong guy to ask. I didn't buy mine to turn a profit. If you're looking for investments, the stock market (usually), real estate (previously), or even art are much better investments. Do NOT buy one of these and park it somewhere, waiting for the value to go up. It's a piece of machinery that was meant to be used, not stored, you worthless bastard. Even Jay Leno drives his cars.

Hemmings called the 67-69 T-bird models a "sleeper" when it comes to value back in 2002: cars.hemmings.com/hemmings/sia/sleepers/tbird.cfm
On a similar note, my car was the first one my mechanic had gotten his hands on a couple of years ago, but since then he's had several show up (he even owned a 68 Thunderbird for a while.) Since the earlier years are getting harder to find, and more expensive, and Mustangs are everywhere some old car enthusiasts without Leno's income are turning to the 67-69 T-birds.


We got some of the following data from www.fordclassics.com/enginespecs.html

A lot of folks ask what the difference is between the Thunderjet 429 and the Cobrajet or other 429's:

Base 429 & Thunderjet
  • Two-bolt main bearing cap
  • cast-iron crankshaft
  • Forged-steel connecting rods with 3/8 inch rod bolts
  • Cast-aluminum pistons
  • Hydraulic lifter camshaft
  • 2.08 inch/1.66 inch intake/exhaust valves
  • Non-adjustable rocker arms
  • Cast-iron intake manifold
  • 4 barrel or 2 barrel carburetor (Thunderjets came equipped with 4 barrels)
429 Cobra Jet
  • Four-bolt main engine block (with exception to some early 1970 models).
  • Larger cylinder heads---2.25 inches/1.72 inches intake/exhaust.
  • Rocker arms were stamped steel 1.73:1 ratio with sled type fulcrums, threaded screw-in rocker studs and pushrod guide plates.
  • The rocker arms on the 429 cubic inch Cobra Jet were also adjustable prior to 1969.
  • Cobra Jet used a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor atop a spread-bore cast-iron manifold.
429 Super Cobra Jet
  • 4 bolt main engine blocks
  • Forged aluminum pistons
  • Mechanical lifter camshaft
  • Adjustable rocker arms
  • 780cfm Holley four-barrel carb
429 Boss
  • All aluminum cast cylinder heads
  • Crescent type combustion chambers
  • Intake/Exhaust valves of 2.28in and 1.90inch
  • Exhaust valves are "D" shaped
  • 4 oil galleries
  • Identified by casting 429HP on block
  • Higher iron nodularity content with thicker cylinder walls
  • 2 Versions of the 429 Boss existed, they were 820-S & 820-T
  • Forged steel cross-drilled crankshaft
  • Forged aluminum pistons
  • Aluminum dual plane manifold w/735cfm Holley four barrel carb
429 Nascar
  • Larger Outboard bolts in #1 main bearing cap.
  • Deck height was grooved for O rings.
  • Larger machined refliefs for exhaust pushrods
  • Longer street rods, than the Boss 429-820S type
  • Some blocks had full hemi design, others crescent type
  • Stainless steel intake valves
  • Magnesium valve covers and intake manifold.

Guy Rideout emailed me some background info on the various engines offered by Ford in these years:

In the 1960's, Ford had developed five different V8 engine designs for their cars:

Each one was available in a variety of sizes and power outputs. Often there was overlap in displacements, which leads to some confusion. Indeed in 1968-69, the customers must have wondered what Ford was doing, when they offered 427, 428 and 429 engines in their full size cars, and each one was different.
The 428 engine was part of the FE (Ford-Edsel division) family, made from 1958-1976 in ten different displacements, at various times, from 332 to 428 cid.
The 429 and 460 make up the '385' engine family (also known as the "Lima" engine, as they were made in the Lima, Ohio engine plant). The '385' engines were technologically much more advanced than the FE engines, as they were lighter and stronger, due to better casting techniques, more durable and had greater combustion chamber efficiencies. They were designed to produce more power with lower emissions than their contemporaries.

If you still need more info, there's a nice history on the 429 at www.carmemories.com/cgi-bin/viewexperience.cgi?experience_id=503

Drive Train

Thanks again to Guy Rideout, who emailed us more on the drive shaft:

The 67 birds had a conventional 1 piece shaft with 2 joints. It will retrofit into 68-71 birds (with matching numbers of doors, for the correct wheelbase)
68 to 71 Birds had 'double cardan' joints in them, with a 2 piece shaft (a rubber insulator between the inner and outer shafts dampens vibrations) It is actually a very sophisticated piece of engineering and worth preserving.
The double cardan joints are a type of 'constant velocity' joint.
A conventional driveshaft will speed up and slow down slightly as it rotates. This sets up a vibration, which becomes more severe as the working angle of the u joints increases. You don't notice this vibration if the transmission output shaft and the differential pinion shaft are parallel.
The double cardan joint eliminates this vibration so the shaft runs more smoothly, regardless of angle. Each 'cardan' has a spring loaded centering mechanism between the joints which makes them expensive to repair.



If you'd like to see other ads check out our online ad gallery (lots more coming soon, just need to do some scanning!)

I've replicated a Motor Trend article from February 1969, complete with photos and such.

I've seen two sets of numbers - 64,931 (9,977 Hardtop, 54,954 Landau), and 49,227 total production (33,577 two door & 15,650 4 door models). I don't know which set of numbers, if either, is accurate. Then I saw this on the Yahoo Glamorbird list:

According to a book I have, the 69 went like this:
1,983 four door landaus with buckets
13,712 four door landaus with bench
2,361 tudor hardtops with buckets
3,552 tudor hardtops with bench
12,425 tudor landaus with buckets
15,239 tudor landaus with bench
Wixom built 40,571
LA built 8,701

I also copied this from the Yahoo group: "the 2 door hardtop had a base price of $4807, the 2 door landau had a base price of $4947, and the 4 door had a base price of $5026.. a total of 49,272 T-Birds were built in 1969.. the 2 door weighed in at 4360 lbs., while the 4 door weighed in at 4460 lbs."

In case you didn't know, the '69 is the same basic body style as the '67 and '68 Thunderbird, with changes to the grill and trim and the occasional difference in mechanical parts you wouldn't expect and can't understand. In '69, the T-bird was only available with the 429 engine, but there were a few new options available only in '69. The 67-69 T-birds are often referred to as the "glamor birds", frequently spelled "glamourbirds" by Canadian types.  Most had power windows, which were poorly manufactured. Everyone is always in search of new motors and switches, which are very difficult to find,  so I'm glad mine has the manual windows.

For more on Thunderbird history check out www.citiescommerce.com/thunderbird-history.htm
Or for one with nice pictures and more detail see minek.nodevice.com/tbird/
There's a Thunderbird club out of New Orleans that has a nice series of pages about the T-bird: www.geocities.com/acadian_thunderbird/index1.html

Apparently there was a prototype for 1969 called the Saturn II that looks pretty cool:
Another Version
Here's an article about it from Rod & Custom 1968
Article Photos
More Article Photos
Can you imagine the blind spots in that thing? It's tough enough to see out the back/sides of the actual car they produced! I don't like the grill either. However, I do like the lines on the prototype, much more interesting than the minor update to the '68 they went with.

I've also seen various custom 1969 Thunderbirds like this one. Nice, very Green Hornet-like, but I have to wonder what they did with the headlights? And this 68 lowrider Thunderbird - love the interior. Wish there were better pictures.
And there were five Apollo Thunderbirds built in 1967 with a boatload of options. There's info about these cars at automotivemileposts.com/tbird1967apollo.html
I also got email in July 2003 from the owner of one of these cars:

On some of the web pages I have read about the missing Apollo t-bird. I have in my possession the Apollo with the SR# 7Y81Z122572. the Z in the SR is because it is the only one to come out of the factory with the 390 c.i. motor. I have all of the conversion options except for the t.v.. the car has approx. 68,000 miles on the clock. The body and paint are in very nice condition as well as the interior. The car was bought at auction in 1989 by my brother-in-law which he drove for a few years and then left it sit. Believe it or not he gave me the car just to get it out of he garage. I have cleaned up the body and interior and have been able to get the car running. At this point it will need some more mechanical work to get it road worthy.
E. Gene Martini

We got the following bit from www.ford.no/historie/thunderbird.html:
"The 1967 Thunderbird The Thunderbird grew a little more when the 1967 models were designed. The wheelbase for the two-door hardtop was extended to 115 inches (up two inches), overall length was 206.9 inches (1.9 inches more), and passenger capacity was increased to six. The 1967 Thunderbird represented one of the most dramatic styling changes in industry history. It was a jet aircraft-like design featuring a long, thrusting hood and a short rear deck.
The front-end highlight was a crisp lattice-work grille deeply inset and outlined with thin, bright metal moldings on the top and sides. The grille was framed at the bottom by a new deep-sectioned bumper that blended into the sheet metal, and the headlights were concealed by doors at the outboard edges of the grille.
Inside were newly sculptured twin bucket seats, a full-length console, all-vinyl door panels with full-length arm rests trimmed in bright metal, and the all-new Tilt-Away steering wheel -- an exceptionally popular Thunderbird comfort/convenience feature.
Also, for the 1967-model year, a four-door model was added. It was discontinued after the 1969-model year. The four-door didn't help sales much -- only 70,988 were built during the two years it was on the market -- but today they are collectors' cars and are rapidly gaining in value."

There's also an article in the Chicago Sun-Times about the 67 'Bird being the first Thunderbird sedan.
My favorite part of the article is "Curiously, the four-door model had rear-hinged back doors, which were a throwback to the 1930s and not very practical."
It's true - never try to get four or more people in the car all at the same time. You've got to take turns on each side due to the suicide doors. But the article fails to mention the suicide door design had been present on Lincolns for years leading up to 67, a much more likely influence on the design rather than a throwback to the 30's.

Other events of note in 1969:

Other events from '69 are detailed at www.bbhq.com/cgi-bin/boomeryr.pl?69

Top 40 hits of 1969:
1. Sugar, Sugar, Archies
2. Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In, Fifth Dimension
3. I Can't Get Next To You, Temptations
4. Honky Tonk Women, Rolling Stones
5. Everyday People, Sly & The Family Stone
6. Dizzy, Tommy Roe
7. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly & The Family Stone
8. I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Tom Jones
9. Build Me Up Buttercup, Foundations
10. Crimson And Clover, Tommy James & The Shondells
11. One, Three Dog Night
12. Crystal Blue Persuasion, Tommy James & The Shondells
13. Hair, Cowsills
14. Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, Marvin Gaye
15. Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet, Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
16. Get Together, Youngbloods
17. Grazin' In The Grass, Friends Of Distinction
18. Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
19. Proud Mary, Creedence Clearwater Revival
20. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), Jr. Walker & The All Stars
21. It's Your Thing, Isley Brothers
22. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
23. Jean, Oliver
24. Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
25. Get Back, Beatles
26. In The Year 2525, Zager & Evans
27. Spinning Wheel, Blood, Sweat & Tears
28. Baby, I Love You, Andy Kim
29. Going In Circles, Friends Of Distinction
30. Hurt So Bad, Lettermen
31. Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival
32. My Cherie Amour, Stevie Wonder
33. Easy To Be Hard, Three Dog Night
34. Baby It's You, Smith
35. In The Ghetto, Elvis Presley
36. A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash
37. Baby, Baby Don't Cry, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
38. Only The Strong Survive, Jerry Butler
39. Time Of The Season, Zombies
40. Wedding Bell Blues, Fifth Dimension


If you like my site please link to it! If you have T-bird, old Ford or 429 info I'll gladly link you back, just contact me. Give me good service and I'll even recommend you. Give me free parts and I'll slap banner ads all over this site!

If you're interested in big mopars check out the extensive page we have on our '71 Newport, including a massive link list for both Mopars and Newports, as well as other useful tidbits. We've also got a page for the 1963 Imperial Crown.


Note: If I've used the supplier I'll say so. Otherwise, these are just my impressions based on the content on their site.

The vinyl roof originally had an alligator pattern in it. This is apparently difficult to find these days. You can see a good picture of it on the Utas family t-bird page: utas.org/t-bird/index.htm. Rumor has it you can get the alligator pattern from SMS Auto Fabrics up in Portland: smsautofabrics.com  However, many people have reported long delays in delivery from SMS, so order with plastic then decline the charges if they don't deliver. Others have reported getting the fabric from T-Bird Sanctuary, tbirdsanctuary.com
I removed mine and went with just paint. This wasn't as simple as it sounds, since there is a concave area in the rear pillar for the landau bars. This had to be filled with fiberglass and bondo for a smooth, clean look, but I actually like it more than the vinyl. The trim holes were welded closed as well.

I ordered carpet from Obsolete & Classic Auto Parts. It arrived in reasonable time and is quality carpet. However, it was lacking two extra pieces for the pillars between front and rear seats. I left this the original black in my car to match the color of the vinyl on the rest of the pillar, so it wasn't a problem. Their service by phone seemed very friendly and quick.

Bob's Thunderbirds in Ft. Lauderdale, 954.491.6652. The only place I could find an NOS, correct turn signal switch, regardless of price. Nice guy on the phone. Part arrived in reasonable time. Price comparative to others for this particular part.

Thunderbird Ranch has parts, manuals, a classifieds/message board and links.

Thunder Cars and Parts specializes in 58-76 T-birds.

Lincoln Parts International has a bunch of Thunderbird parts, including weatherstripping, but I'm not impressed with their pricing.

T-bird Sanctuary has a few bugs on their site but you can order their catalogs for free. The latest parts I've ordered were a replacement hose for the power steering leak mentioned in the detailed repairs section above. It wasn't exactly the same as the part that was leaking, but it was made to work. I also ordered a washer fluid reservoir that was apparently not in stock and has been on backorder.
Previously, I'd gotten a turn signal switch from them. It had been rebuilt with different wire colors, so it came with instructions explaining the color changes. Unfortunately, the colors in the instructions didn't match the part. My mechanic couldn't figure it out, so I had to send it back.

Classique Cars Unlimited has lots of T-bird parts, manuals and such.

Green Sales Company is a supplier of obsolete Ford and Lincoln / Mercury parts. I've gotten a couple of parts from them that have been incorrect or didn't work for whatever reason, but they were nice and refunded me the money so I'd probably try them again in the future.

Autokrafters has a pretty impressive selection of parts for many makes, models and years.

Old Air Products seems like a pretty good place for old A/C parts.

There's a message board with tons of T-bird classifieds from the International Thunderbird Club.

Tail Light King is pretty much what you'd think it is.

Best-Birds has parts for your 1972-1982 Thunderbird.

Autoparts and Restorations has a few T-bird parts.

There's a list of part suppliers on 123.com.

partsboy.com has a list of door rubber, runners and channels.

car-part.com has a nice parts locator, though I don't know how many places it searches.

swapman.com is like ebay, but only for car parts.

Classic Ford has a bunch of old Fords in their yard, but not any '69 T-birds in their inventory last time I checked.

Hemmings has a part locator service that only charges you if they locate your part. They also have general listings you can browse and search. I've found a ton of Ford restoration and parts places through them, highly recommended.

If you're having problems with your sequential turn signals Cougars Unlimited specializes in the parts and has troubleshooting tips on their site. I purchased their solid state replacement unit for the sequential blinkers and it works perfectly and only took about 20 minutes to install (and I'm mechanically ignorant.) Worth $100? Probably not if your blinkers work fine. But if not, it's definitely something to look into.

Mr. G's has fasteners and rechromed plastic for a variety of cars, including a few parts for the '67-'68 T-birds. I don't know if they'd work on the '69 or not, but you could find out.

The Clock Works has NOS clocks in stock for Thunderbirds and other cars.

Pete's List - I know nothing about this person, but he lists a few parts for t-birds and other cars.

This place in Sweden says they have yards in the US so maybe you wouldn't have to pay for overseas shipping: www.pgbildelar.se/amfordindex.htm

T-bird Center specializes in the classic 55-57 birds, but has a few parts for other models as well.

T-bird Connection up in Canada has a mess o' T-birds and parts.

Kanter has front end rebuild kits.

P-S-T also has suspension parts.

Inline Tube has brake parts and other plumbing bits.

Jasper Engines has a handy Adobe Acrobat file that contains flowcharts for troubleshooting your tranny, including the C6:

Remanufactured torque converters are available through Transmission Parts Company.

Or get a whole rebuilt C6 transmission: www.rebuilt-automatic-transmissions.com

Perogie Enterprises has NOS Exhaust Manifolds.

Cooper's Vintage Parts has a lot of chassis and suspension parts, as well as other parts for old cars and trucks.

Original Car Radios - turn your head and cough 'cause it's gonna cost you, but you can find all sorts of refurbished original radios with warranties. They have radios for all sorts of makes and models.
Or if you want a new stereo without that new stereo look, you could cough up around $400 and have your current model converted: www.gate.net/~gtayman/stereo.htm

If you're looking for that sweet under-dash 8-track player, since the '69 radios only came with AM/FM or AM/8-track, this guy refurbishes 'em and has tapes to boot: www.azboss.com/~danasam/car.html
There's a place in the UK that has an extensive line too, with reasonable shipping to the U.S.: www.avfcaira.dircon.co.uk

Speaking of audio and Thunderbird parts, Doug Gabriel, a singer up in Branson Missouri, has a guitar made out of a '69 Thunderbird muffler, the "Mufftar." No, I'm not making this up.


AutomotiveMileposts.com has lots of info about cars - production numbers, original and optional equipment, color and trim options, etc. The info on the '69 is at automotivemileposts.com/contentstbird.html
They have info on every model from '58 - '76 at www.automotivemileposts.homestead.com/CONTENTSTBird.html
And a few of a restoration of a '69 tudor: automotivemileposts.com/restoration01.html

There's a nice summary of the history of the Thunderbird line at www.albeedigital.com/supercoupe/articles/tbird_history.html

There is a list of Thunderbird Clubs on tbird.org. It lists an outdated URL for the North Georgia Vintage Thunderbirds Club.

Vintage Thunderbird Club International

If you're looking for other Thunderbird clubs check out www.tbird.org/clubs.htm

Thunderbird Cybernest has a gallery, club links, supplier listings, data place decoders, classified listings and more, an absolutely massive site.

4door.com has manuals in CD format, including the entire 5 volume shop manual for the '69.
So does hotrodsuperstore.com.

Engine decoder: The Ford V-8 Engine Workshop Engine I.D. Tag Information, ~ 1964/72: www.wrljet.com/fordv8/idtag.html

Here's a 68 that looks like the same color as mine: www.wxdu.org/~jason/cars/tbird.html

Alldata has recall info at www.alldata.com/TSB/19/691907A2.html

Supercars has info about the '68, as well as other makes and models.

AutoClassics.com has a gallery of Thunderbirds from many years.

Muscle Car Nationals has another gallery.

Since Ford released the new 2001 Thunderbird they've put up a site for the history of the line, as well as links to clubs and other resources. Check out the nifty gallery of ads. For some reason they've decided to end all mentions of the T-bird after '66, the bastards! www.fordheritage.com/tbird/

For more on Thunderbird history check out any of these pages:

T-bird Registry - I don't know why, but you can add your Bird. They have a few classifieds and such but it doesn't seem to have a lot of useful info. Maybe if you're paranoid that your Thunderbird is going to get stolen and then the thieves are stupid enough to register it online? I don't get it.

There's some kind of online survey database with people's comments about their '69 T-birds at cartalk.cars.com/Survey/Results/Demographics/Comments/Ford/Thunderbird-1969.html

Some weird foreign site with a gallery of Fords from 1930 - 1970, including the '69 T-bird: home.no.net/ayla/Ford/

The Utas family has a beautiful 69 tudor Thunderbird, with some beautiful photos: www.utas.org/t-bird/index.htm He's also got lots of useful how-to info on headlight door motors, sending units and other do-it-yourself info, including some photos.

Legendary Ford is a quarterly magazine that started up in November 2003.

If you can't find it here, check out Automotive Links, an incredible list of links for T-birds and other cars: www.automotive-links.com/mak/for/brd.htm

Do not email us asking us Thunderbird questions like how to find parts or how to fix something!
1. If it's not listed on this site I don't know where it is. Any info I get, I post here!
2. I'm not a  mechanic and know very little about how to fix anything. If I didn't say how I did it on this site, I probably didn't do it myself but paid someone else to. When I do it, I post every step (whenever I get around to updating the site.)

Instead, please sign up for the Yahoo Glamorbirds group

There are lots of knowledgeable folks in the group, including a few parts suppliers, mechanics, engineers and such.

But if you want to contact us and talk about our car, or your car, or offer us parts or money, please do!

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