Featured Thunderbird for May 1998

Highlighted Thunderbird

1964 Hardtop, Exterior: Medium Blue
Owner: Gary Tayman, Sarasota, FL

Ever since they came out, the 64-66 Thunderbirds were among my all-time favorite cars. Of course situations were such that I never had the opportunity to own one until recently. In addition to being a long sought-after car, it is also my first hand at a serious car restoration. Needless to say I'm learning as I go, having gathered a ton of useful information from the Vintage Thunderbird mailing list.

This car has a good body, new engine and rebuilt transmission. However it seems to have needed everything else. When the truck unloaded it onto my driveway it had two flat tires, partial carpeting and no headlining, torn seats and dashboard, and a trunkload of spare parts loaded with mildew. When I pulled the side off the console to check the radio, a huge mountain of nutshells avalanched onto the floor. In fact there were nutshells in the A/C ducts, in the vents, in the door jambs, even in the carburetor. The gas pedal was missing, the heater hoses were cut off and plugged with sticks, and it seemed that most other components of this car had been "fixed" in the same manner. I named the car "Surfin' Bird" because its condition reminds me of the typical old beat-up clunker that a group of teenagers might use to take their surfboards to the beach -- which is indeed nearby.

In an effort to save money, as well as being a learning experience, I've been doing nearly all the restoration work myself. I've performed such no-no's as rebuilding the power steering pump, repairing the power brake booster, and installing headlining -- all successfully. After about 9 months of work the car is on the road, however there is much more work to do.

Originally the car was Diamond Blue. It has been repainted an incorrect medium blue, and this finish is in terrible shape. I intend to repaint it Caspian Blue metallic. Someday when this car has a different look, I'll post an updated photo.

Gary Tayman

Copyright © 1998 by Gary Tayman

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