Ford Thunderbird: Complexity of '66 -er Thunderbird does not deter Frank Poll

Ford Thunderbird 1966
ER Classics Desktop

If you think simplism reigns in XNUMXs American cars ... think again. Because the fourth batch of Ford Thunderbird is bulging with wires and vacuum hoses. “You will find a complete Spaghetti Incident under the dashboard,” says Frank Poll, with a nod to the Guns' n Roses CD. It didn't stop him getting a long sleeper from California and getting it ready for use in a friend's driveway in Riverside. 

Text & photography: Aart van der Haagen

"Be careful, turn in time, because around the middle position the steering is as dead as a pier," the owner warns when we navigate the almost two-meter-wide ship over the meandering ribbon of the Posbank nature reserve in Gelderland. That appears to be nothing too much said; you better start thinking about hooping well before the corner.

Also read: Ford Pinto: cheap is expensive

This fourth-generation Ford Thunderbird is miles away from the sports car effect that its illustrious 1955 forefather attempted to induce. But in the role of a personal luxury car - a household name in the United States at the time - he feels very much at home. “I have removed the rear silencers. But otherwise, in terms of noise level and in any case in terms of suspension comfort, it would rival a Rolls-Royce from that period. I dare to reassure that. ” That does not seem very far from the truth, as the short driving impression shows. We do have to pull out all the stops to keep the drifting colossus out of the roadside and the territory of oncoming traffic. 

Also read: Ford Mustang, brainchild of Lee Iacocca. (Part One) en The first Ford Mustang, brainchild of Lee Iacocca (part two, final)


The performance of the Ford Thunderbird does not lie. While the V8 still has 2156 kilograms to stow, excluding tank filling and some healthy Dutch carcasses. “This copy contains the optional 428 engine, also known as 'Q code'. In fact a brother of the block in the GT40s that won Le Mans, ”Poll laps up from ready knowledge.

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“There is a so-called C6 transmission, then new and a further development of the Cruise-O-Matic with three gears. You couldn't even order a manual transmission. ” Probably no buyer was waiting for that either. Because if you were surrounded by the luxury of power steering, electric window control, central locking and a nice factory radio, then you obviously would not be stirring yourself. “The best trick? The Tilt-Away steering column. It automatically folds aside when getting in and out. This is done in a vacuum-controlled manner. Just like the operation of the locks, the release of the handbrake, the activation of the electro-hydraulic moving roof and more bells and whistles. This Ford Thunderbird is incredibly complex and is very overengineered. The rear shock absorbers are under a cover plate, say a double bottom. Who makes that up? ”

Ford Thunderbird 1966
Ford Thunderbird 1966
Long before, among others, Audi made it up, the Thunderbird already had 'running' winkers outside
Ford Thunderbird 1966
Ford Thunderbird 1966
The steering wheel automatically moves to the right after opening the door
Ford Thunderbird 1966
Hanging stems control the wipers, antenna, map reading lights and airflow
Ford Thunderbird 1966
Only in the last year, 1966, the more powerful 428 engine became available
The fast boy with his personal luxury car

One Comment

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  1. Nice article to read. When I think of a Ford Thunderbird, the song “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen immediately pops into my head. A 1965 Ford Thunderbird was used in his music video. For an exclusive car I think the Thunderbird is beautiful. How long had it taken to get that thunderbird lined up again? Was it easy to find all the parts?

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