Image credits: © Ford.

1965 Ford Thunderbird

Ford introduced the new Thunderbird in 1955 in response to the Chevrolet Corvette. Billed more as a personal luxury car than a sports car, no one could have predicted that it would outsell its rival by such a wide margin. The Thunderbird had unique styling, a comfortable interior, and plenty of power from a V-8 engine. The Thunderbird remained popular, further distancing itself from the Corvette in 1958 when it became a four-seater.

The third generation of the Ford Thunderbird was introduced in 1961 bringing with it an all-new and futuristic appearance. The motoring public enthusiastically agreed with the styling and 73,051 were sold that year. By the time the fourth generation made its debut in 1964, the Thunderbird had a dedicated following. Production of the fourth-gen continued through 1966 and despite lasting for just three years, it would prove to be one of the most popular design configurations for the Thunderbird, with 236,613 examples sold during that time.

With a length of just over 17 feet (sans the spare tire kit), the 1965 Thunderbird was long, low, and sporty. Body styles included a hardtop, Landau, and a convertible, and pricing began at $4,395. The base engine was an overhead-valve eight-cylinder engine displacing 390 cubic-inches and offering 300 horsepower. This tried-and-true powertrain was used for several of Ford's products of the era and was both reliable and powerful. The Thunderbird Interceptor Special V8 offered 330 horsepower and the Thunderbird Super High-Performance V8 engine raised the power to 425 horsepower.

The 1965 Thunderbird received disc brakes and sequential turn signals that flashed individual segments of the horizontal taillights from inside to outside to indicate a turn. On the 'C' pillar was a restyled Thunderbird emblem and rode on new wheel covers. In the front was a new horizontal grille that featured six vertical bars and eight horizontal bars. The interior was reminiscent of the cockpit of a jet with a large center console that housed the radio and ashtray and extended to the rear seat. Deeply-inset gauges gave the driver a 'Buck Rogers' space Age-feel. In the back were bucket-style seating with folding armrest.

Standard features included reversible keys and keyless locking system, remote trunk release, and vacuum-operated, power door locks.

Ford sold a total of 42,652 examples of the two-door hardtop, 25,474 of the Landau, and 6,846 Convertibles. The Thunderbird Special Landau was introduced in the Spring of 1965, and differed from the regular Landau by its unique combination of exterior and interior colors, as well as differences in trim. Additionally, they were equipped with a special parchment-colored vinyl roof and a matching interior. Special touches included bucket seat backs, carpeting, and Emberglo accents on the interior instrument panel. Emberglo was used on unique Special Landau deluxe wheel covers, which were standard and unique to this model, in place of the traditional black-painted vanes. While the center medallion of the wheel covers was normally decorated with red, white, and blue accents surrounding a chrome Thunderbird emblem on a black background, the Special Landau wheel covers were Emberglo, white and blue. The three 'THUNDERBIRD' stamped lettering areas on the wheel cover retained their usual 'dull black' color - dull black is shinier than flat black, but not as shiny as satin black.

The name 'Special Landau' was engraved on the roof rear exterior quarter moldings, along with a gold-colored Thunderbird emblem. The interior simulated woodgrain trim was of 'burled walnut,' a different pattern not used on the standard Landau models, and Special Landau nameplates mounted on the front door trim panels. A small number of the Special Landau models were delivered from the factory with Wimbledon White paint adorning the bodies, instead of the more usual Emberglo metallic. Emberglo was an exclusive color to this model in 1965.

Instead of using the normal interior two-tone configuration used on other Thunderbirds, the Special Landau floor console's were Parchment-colored. The console was usually fitted in the darker color, except for the Pearl White interiors. The steering wheel on this model is also Parchment, instead of the more familiar simulated woodgrain found on the standard Landau models.

Although the personal luxury car market has been a special niche within the automobile industry, the Thunderbird continually claimed a large portion of those sales. It accomplished this by successfully combining sports, luxury, and performance, and continually redefining luxury and elegance. Its appeal to a wide audience of buyers helped it become one of America's best cars.

by Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2015

Related Reading : Ford Thunderbird History

The Ford Thunderbird is an American automotive icon first introduced in 1955. During the early 1950s, military men were returning from fighting in World War II. In Europe, the style of the vehicle was very different from the Detroit American car. The graceful but sporty MG, Triumphs, and Jaguars, to name a few, had found their way into the hearts of many of these American soldiers. In the U.S.,....
Continue Reading >>

1965 Vehicle Profiles

1965 Ford Thunderbird vehicle information


Chassis Num: 5Y85Z100032

In 1964, Ford introduced its fourth generation of the Ford Thunderbird. It was given elegant and streamlined styling, on essentially the same chassis as in previous years. Standard features included a 300 horsepower V8 engine, power steering, and pow....[continue reading]

Chassis #: 5Y85Z100032 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1965 Thunderbird
1965 Ford Thunderbird Price Range: $4,392 - $4,850

$1,975 - $2,660
$2,370 - $2,612
$2,625 - $3,425

Model Year Production

1970Ford (2,096,184)Chevrolet (1,451,305)Volkswagen (1,193,853)2,096,184
1969Chevrolet (2,092,947)Ford (1,826,777)Volkswagen (1,241,580)1,826,777
1968Chevrolet (2,139,290)Ford (1,753,334)Volkswagen (1,191,854)1,753,334
1967Chevrolet (2,206,639)Ford (1,730,224)Toyota (1,068,321)1,730,224
1966Ford (2,212,415)Chevrolet (2,206,639)Volkswagen (1,168,146)2,212,415
1965Chevrolet (2,375,118)Ford (2,170,795)Volkswagen (1,174,687)2,170,795
1964Chevrolet (2,318,619)Ford (1,594,053)Toyota (1,068,321)1,594,053
1963Chevrolet (2,237,201)Ford (1,525,404)Fiat (957,941)1,525,404
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)1,476,031
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)1,338,790
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)1,439,370

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