Classic Thunderbird Club International
Gil's Garage
Gil Baumgartner
CTCI Authenticity Chairman
Tips and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
  • Brakes are 1950s original style and they are good, but not as responsive as modern brakes. Use caution until you become familiar with their stopping power.
  • Radial tire pressure must be maintained at 35 PSI.
  • Starting the engine cold requires the accelerator pedal to be pumped while the engine starter is engaged.
  • After the engine is started cold it will have a fast idle until it warms up.
  • If equipped with an automatic transmission, the engine starts in neutral only.
  • When the engine is started and before a gear is selected, you should always place your foot on the brake.
  • If you must drive in the rain, you should know that one of the characteristics of the early Thunderbirds, in spite of all new seals, is; they will leak.
  • In 1956 models, try not to use the spare tire in the continental kit, it is difficult to remove and the paint will more than likely be damaged. Carry a spare wheel/tire (Mini) and jack in the trunk. Carry a mini-spare in a 1955 also, as it requires much less trunk space.
  • It is recommended that the battery have a quick disconnect. It should be used when the vehicle is not in use or for emergency disconnect.
  • Engines run ok on regular gasoline, but run better on higher octane.
  • It is recommended that a fire extinguisher be carried in all older vehicles.
  • Tops, both hard and convertible are not user friendly. They are difficult to remove and more difficult to properly latch when reinstalling. If the hard top is removed for extended periods, it has a tendency to widen between the rear side latches making it very difficult to engage the side alignment pins in the receptacles at the end of the rear garnish. When folding the convertible top especially the first time get help from someone familiar with the procedure. It is easy to damage the convertible top especially if the material is not pushed away from the side scissors and latch arms. Always use two people when folding the convertible top.
  • Expect some small oil leaks, it is next to impossible to prevent some seepage from the engine, transmission and power steering components. Rear main seal leaks can be expected especially on the 312 engine. Automatic transmission leaks can be expected if the vehicle is not frequently used.
  • It is recommended that a drip pan be placed under the engine and transmission when the TíBird is parked in the garage.
  • The more the vehicle is used the better it performs.
  • The automatic transmission normally shifts one time, under normal driving conditions the transmission starts off in second and shifts into third gear. It can be manually down shifted into first when necessary to accelerate from a low speed. It can automatically be shifted into first at low speeds by flooring the accelerator pedal. This procedure is not recommended because it places undue stress on the drive train.
  • After a rebuild, check the level of the brake fluid weekly at least for the first month of use and monthly thereafter.
  • These cars were not originally equipped with air conditioning if the air-conditioning is used in slow traffic install an electric fan to augment the mechanical fan.
  • The original temperature and Fuel gauges are not always accurate. Installation of aftermarket gauges is recommended if you desire more accurate readings.
  • Review www.ctci.org and click on Gilís Garage for more current information.
  • Always remember you are driving old technology.

Gil

Last modified: April 19 2010