Automotive Mileposts
1966 Thunderbird
America's Personal Luxury Car
BELOW AND LEFT: New Town Landau model in Nightmist Blue Metallic - the number one selling Thunderbird model in its very first year!
1966 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau

Body Style Code - Body Type
63A - Conventional Hardtop
63C - Town Hardtop
63D - Town Landau
76A - Convertible

Number Built (Price)
13,389 ($4,395.42)
15,633 ($4,451.76)
35,105 ($4,551.89)
  5,049 ($4,844.75)
Note: The Conventional Hardtop had a painted roof and rear quarter windows. The Town Hardtop had a painted roof and blind roof quarters. The Town Landau had a vinyl covered roof, S-bars, and blind roof quarters. [Get additional details on 1966 Thunderbird Body Styles]. There was no Special Landau model in 1966, despite the fact that Emberglo was an available color on any 1966 Thunderbird.

Production Started:
Production Ended:
September 25, 1965

August 2, 1965
June 10, 1966
Vinyl Is In! And Finally, So Is Performance

Most know that 1966 was a year of lasts: the last convertible, the last unibody, and to some, the last of the classic Thunderbirds. It's true that 1967 would be a turning point for the Thunderbird. To continue to be competitive in the personal luxury marketplace, change was needed. The unibody construction, first introduced in 1958, was by now becoming dated. The unibodies were very strong structures, until they began to rust. Then they became very weak, and very expensive to repair. Repair of collision damage was also more difficult with a unibody, as opposed to body-on-frame construction.

1966 was also a year of firsts: and was probably the best year of the decade to buy a new Thunderbird. Not only was all of the sheet metal from the windshield forward new, a new roofline was offered in the two Town models, which was also include the Safety-Convenience Control Panel, normally an option, as standard. Horsepower from the dependable 390 V-8 would be increased to 315. An emergency flasher system became standard equipment, as did rear seat belts. Polished trim decorated the wheel openings. The Thunderbird would offer more standard equipment than ever before for 1966, and the base prices of all models actually dropped!

The Thunderbird Hardtop (now called the "Conventional Hardtop" to distinguish the different rooflines) had always been the best selling model. That would change forever in 1966. In its very first year, the Town Landau became the best selling model, with 35,105 units being built. That's 50.7% of total production for the year! In just a few short years, production of the base Hardtop model would be in the same range as the last few years of the Convertible. The vinyl roof was very popular during this time, and at just $100.13 more than the Town Hardtop, the top of the line model was certainly a bargain. Along with four shades of vinyl on the roof (Black, White, Parchment and Sage Gold), S-Bars were included on the roof quarters. Simulated woodgrain trim graced the steering wheel, floor console, instrument panel, door panels, and overhead console. The woodgrain really dressed-up the interior, giving it a warm, rich appearance.

Ford finally addressed the performance issue for 1966: the standard Thunderbird 390 Special V-8 was upgraded from 300 horsepower to 315 horsepower for 1966. Having just 300 horses under the hood since 1958 was beginning to take its toll on the Bird's image at this point, since much of the competition had higher performance engine offerings. Even though torque was improved between the 352 V-8 of the 1958-1960 era, 1961's new 390 was now becoming dated. And, if real performance was desired, a new 428 V-8, boasting 345 horsepower, was available for just $64.30! And there were no installation or maintenance headaches, as there had been with the 430 V-8s of 1959-60, and the 1962-63 "M" engine Birds. The difference between the 390 and the 428 might not be spectacular, but when you are used to a 428, then drive a 390-equipped Bird, you CAN tell the difference! Remember, T-Bird's customers were being offered larger displacements from its competitors during this time, (a trend that would continue into the 1970's), and while Thunderbird was the one being advertised as the ONLY car in its class offering the luxury of choice: different body styles, rooflines, etc. Engine options were no longer a luxury, they were a necessity.

One can only imagine how the assembly line workers must have felt those last few days of 1966 production. Seeing the last Convertible roll off the line, they must have sensed that the end of an era was passing before them. Even though the excitement of a new model year was close, that last day of production, June 10, 1966, must have been sad. The very last 1966 Thunderbird to come off the line that day took with it a proud heritage: all the unique, one-of-a-kind models that preceded it down the line, each one of them special in its own way. Every one destined to be one of the most distinctive and exhilarating cars on the road. All looked equally appropriate parked in front of an elegant, colonnaded mansion, or in the parking lot of the neighborhood grocer. Or, perhaps parked at the country club for brunch, at the lake house for the weekend, or for an afternoon of fun at the beach. Thunderbird was able to fill each role perfectly, for that too, was part of its heritage.

The models that would follow would have additional responsibilities to fulfill: not only would they have the challenge of living up to their past, they would be compared to a wider variety of competitors than ever before. Had Ford not made changes in 1958, there might not have been a 1966 model at all, because the market for a two seater personal car was quite small. And, with the same thought, had changes not come for 1967, there might not have been any Thunderbirds for the 1970's. For some, that would be an acceptable end to a great marque. For others, it would mean some of the most exciting and beautiful cars ever built with the latest innovations ever to bear the name "Thunderbird" would have never been made.

It's all a matter of personal preference. And, isn't that what a personal luxury car is all about? Personal taste and the ability to change to meet the needs and tastes of the time. Thunderbird for 1967 would still be America's Personal Luxury Car. It would still bear the same script, in the same place, as it had for 1965 and 1966. Different, yes. A Thunderbird, certainly. And it would still live up to the heritage defined by all those that preceded it down the assembly line in Wixom, Michigan.

You are invited to continue to experience the Ford Thunderbird for 1967 and might realize that there are more to these models than you think. The classic period did not end with the 1966 cars, it just continued to change. Trends change. Styles change. Tastes change. Enter Thunderbird's Private World, where styles start and trends get set, by continuing your journey to the 1967 Ford Thunderbird.
If you know the details of the very last 1966 Thunderbird made, you are invited to contact us. It would be interesting to know what model it was, what color, what options. Was anything different about it? We would be happy to share the story with others on this site. Just E-mail us!

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