Automotive Mileposts  
1965 Ford Thunderbird Special Landau shown in Emberglo
1965  Ford Thunderbird Special Landau shown above in Emberglo
1965 Thunderbird 50th Anniversary 1965-2013
 The Private World of Thunderbird

1965 Ford Thunderbird
Thunderbird Tenth Anniversary 1955-1965


1965 Thunderbird Auctions

Production Numbers

Did Mustang Steal the Bird's Thunder?

Mechanical Specifications

You Can Stop On A Dime!

Exterior Paint Colors

Interior Trim

Standard Equipment

Optional Equipment

Special Landau

Special Landau: The Story of One Car

Special Landau: 4,500 or 4,576 Built?

1965 Thunderbird Door Trim and Instrument Panels

1965 Thunderbird Seat Belt Light

1964-1971 Thunderbird Safety-Convenience Control Panel

1965 Thunderbird Town Landau Show Car



1965 Thunderbird

The Private World of Thunderbird for 1965

Image: The Private World of Thunderbird for 19651965 would be a challenging year for the Thunderbird. Sales dropped off dramatically from 1964, due in part perhaps to the new Ford Mustang that shared floor space with the T-bird in Ford dealer showrooms. Even though the Mustang was not in the same class as the Thunderbird, it was a sensation at the time, and as such might have stolen a few customers away from the Thunderbird.

Since the T-bird had undergone a major restyling for 1964, few changes were necessary for 1965. The "THUNDERBIRD" lettering on the leading edge of the hood was replaced with a Thunderbird emblem, the script was redesigned with a more elegant flourish and moved to the rear quarter panel, near the rear bumper edge, a simulated chrome scoop was added to the front fender, and a Thunderbird emblem, set against a black background, was located between the taillamps. Thin vertical strips segmented each taillamp into 6 sections, and behind the lens resided three bulbs, each illuminating two of the sections at a time sequentially when the turn signals were in use.

Perhaps the most talked about innovation of the year, Thunderbird's new sequential rear turn signals really got attention. When the turn signal was activated, the right or left (depending on the direction of the turn), taillamp inner most light bulb would illuminate by itself and remain lit, followed a split second later by the center bulb, which would also remain lit, and then the outboard bulb would illuminate, and remain lit briefly. All three would extinguish at the same time, and the sequence would start over again until the turn signal was cancelled. The front turn indicator flashed in unison with the center rear bulb.

Other new standard features for 1965 included disc brakes in front, a distinct and much needed improvement in braking. So effective were the new brakes, that the Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental (which also got disc brakes as standard equipment in 1965), alone received high marks by the automotive magazines for braking effectiveness. Disc brakes were less likely to pull or grab in wet conditions, weren't as susceptible to brake fade, cooled quickly after multiple panic stops, and stopped the car with greater control in a shorter distance.

A keyless door locking system with reversible keys was a new standard feature that almost everyone loved. Doors could be locked by pushing down the plunger and holding in the outside knob while closing the door. You didn't need to insert the key and lock the door, so it was a real time saver and especially nice during a rain storm. The keys were cut with identical bits on both sides, so as long as the key was inserted into the lock vertically, you were in business. The Thunderbird also got attractive new keys this year, a rectangular headed one for door and ignition, and an oval headed one for trunk and glove box. Both featured a Thunderbird emblem on one side, and "Product of" (separated by the Ford script and oval in the center), then "Motor Company" below the oval, on the other side.

New options appearing for the first time on the Thunderbird included power vent windows, a power radio antenna, and a remote control deck lid release mounted in the console storage compartment. The deck release featured a chrome T-handle stamped with "DECK UNLATCH" which was filled with black paint. It was mounted off center, closer to the driver. Vacuum operated, GM vehicles used the same handle and valve on most of its cars with remote deck releases.

1965 was Thunderbird's tenth anniversary, and while no special model was specifically introduced to commemorate this event, a Special Landau model was released in the Spring of 1965, and most believe this was unofficially Ford's way of noting the anniversary. Painted a unique Ember-glo Metallic, this Landau featured a Parchment-colored vinyl roof and interior vinyl trim with Emberglo appointments, a combination not available on any other car. Special ornamentation was mounted on the roof quarter trim outside, and unique woodgraining was featured inside the car on doors, quarter trim panels, and console. Additional ornamentation was mounted to the front door trim panels, which designated the car as a "Special Landau." Deluxe Wheel Covers were part of the package, and featured Emberglo accents on the painted vanes, instead of the normal black, and the center cap insert had Emberglo, white, and blue instead of red, white, and blue in the background behind the Thunderbird emblem. A Parchment-colored steering wheel superceded the woodgrained one normally provided on Landau models, and it differed from the Hardtop and Convertible steering wheels in that the chrome band ran completely around its face, instead of just below the horn bars.

For the first time, the S-bars on the roof sides of all Landau models had color-keyed inserts painted to match the vinyl roof color, and instead of a plastic emblem in its center, it featured a textured metal centerpiece.

The 1965 Thunderbird was still the top seller in the personal luxury field for the year, a field that would become more crowded beginning in 1966, with the introduction of the Oldsmobile Toronado. Advertising for the year included several ads showing the light blue vinyl interior of a Landau model. The simulated woodgraining really stood out in these ads, and they were photographed in a manner that made all the interior bright components really sparkle. In one ad, which advised the reader to "Ask the lady in blue what's so unique about Thunderbird for 1965," one could see the red door ajar light lit up on the instrument panel. A Brittany Blue Landau was utilized for most of the advertising, but the final ad to feature a Thunderbird Convertible was printed in 1965. The Honey Gold metallic convertible was shot from behind, emphasizing the T-bird's long, low lines, which were uncluttered by a top boot. Parked on a forested lane with a couple in the distance, one could easily comprehend how the Thunderbird was the ultimate in personal luxury transportation.

Despite ten years to catch up, the competition still hadn't figured out what made the Thunderbird a Thunderbird. Buyers had a wider choice of models with the Bird, and while it perhaps wasn't the most powerful, or the fastest car on the road, it still had that unique look and complement of features that no other car offered. The Private World of Thunderbird for 1965 was an exclusive one, and 74,972 lucky individuals entered that world, where other cars you drive, this one you Thunderbird. And that feeling made many forget about all other forms of travel.

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