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  • Don Voorhees

The 64' T-Bird - Time to wake up!

This 1964 Thunderbird is a family heirloom but had been sitting idle for over a decade. The owner wanted to get it running and ready to cruise! This car is equipped with a 390 engine and a Crusie-o-matic transmission.

Thanks to having been garage kept safe and secure, this 55k original mile beauty wasn't difficult to get running and in driving shape. I am very impressed by how solid the car is and how well maintained it was. I did a bunch of work to it, including brake work, exhaust manifold gaskets, column rebuild, gas level sending unit, gauge and interior work, and everything was in great shape - even the brake bleeders broke free with no hassle.

It arrives:

Upon arrival and first inspection, the car was in great shape. I went over all the major systems and changed the fluids. The plugs, points, and all other systems were like new!

After going over the ignition and changing the oil, I drained the gas and added 10 gallons of fresh fuel. The car started right up and idled well. There was an exhaust manifold exhaust leak and a valve tap that quieted down quickly.

A few items noted were that the windows didn't work, the brakes were non-existent, the neutral safety switch and other column mounted structures weren't working, and several gauges didn't work correctly such as gas, amps, and coolant temp, and the heater core was bad.

Column rebuild.

The Column came out without much hassle, but there is a lot to it. Besides the neutral safety switch the column has the emergency brake vacuum switch attached to it as well as the swing out column mechanism and it's associated trim and sliding doors, an interesting set up for sure. The sliding column door is the square section right under the gauges.

Column out on the bench for disassembly.

Here is a close up of the shift lever that rides on the shift gate. The wear was filled with weld and then ground down and profiled so it fit the shift gate perfectly.


Here is a shot of the neutral safety switch that had been, Ummmm - how can I put this nicely, "fixed" with parts they had around. I was able to remove the base of the broken actuator bracket and rebuild one using flat stock.

The original switch on the column was good, just had a stripped bolt which I also fixed.

The column also had the bushings that support the shift tube inside the column dry up and completely deteriorate. I installed new ones and cleaned and lubed everything up.

Here is the result:

As you can tell from the video, there was still the matter of the exhaust manifold leak. I was very worried the manifold bolts would snap in the head as it appeared this car has never been apart before, but like everything else on this car, they were in great shape and came out with a little care and feeding of penetrating oil.

This is what was left of the original steel gasket.

The car needed a master cylinder for the brakes as well as some cleaning and adjusting, I also added an external return spring to the pedal assembly.

The tires on the car were a late 1991 date, so new tires went on as well.

461 = 46th week of 1991. After the year 2000, date code years have 2 digits.

Most of the cars other systems were in equally as good shape and just needed cleaning and adjusting. The fuel level sender float need ed replacing as well, that fixed the fuel gauge. Disconnecting and resetting (grounding) the amp gauge re-centered it, that now works as well.

With the new tires and all of the cars systems gone over, it runs tight, quiet, and is a blast to cruise in, it's like a time machine!

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