Category Archives: 1963 Thunderbird

Repairs, modifications and general notes on my new to me 1963 Ford Thunderbird.

Thunderbird tranny…

If my thinking is right I have the Cruise O’ Matic three speed transmission. This is an earlier cast iron version that is prior to the more known C4 tranny. I’ll need to get under the car again and try to read the part numbers for verification. When I get back into town I will to see if I can really tell if the tranny is shifting through the gears as the speed increases. It’s been bugging me that there is no distinct change in torque as expected. 

I’ll check the following:

  • Vacuum line from the intake manifold “T” is good all the way down to the governor/modulator or control valve as Ford calls it
  • Linkage from carburetor to the transmission is there, used for the “kick down” function when passing cars or need of acceleration 
  • Check for the F4 type transmission fluid, while the car is running 

I’ll research more as the time gets closer. 

Thunderbird cooling fans…

I picked a SPAL Dual 11″ inch fan setup that had some really good reviews. I was gambling that I could make it fit by having the water pump pulley in between the two fan shrouds. Mistake!..

It turns out the setup is too wide for my radiator and to deep for my long nose waterpump. I had to come up with a plan to still use the dual setup as two singles. 

Separating the two wasn’t a problem for a small hacksaw blade. Even with the two pieces apart it was still too wide for the radiator. 

I ended up using a dremel tool to remove portions of the shroud near the inlet and outlet radiator ports. Once I had the pieces removed I was able to use a piece of flat metal to mount the two together and secure to the top of the radiator. That part of the  fabrication came out nicely. I then had to use the plastic”tie downs” commonly sold with radiator kids. Mine happened to be the DERALE brand. I’m not a big fan of these but under the circumstances I don’t have much of a choice until I can lift the car up and work from the bottom. 

My initial temperature test shows that at driving conditions no noticeable difference observed. At idle after driving around the temperature dropped a few degrees than normal. I won’t know the actual benefits until I’ve ridden during the hotter time of the day. All this was going on during the later afternoon hours towards the evening. 





The original temp sender always had a “jump” in measurement. I’m guessing it was reading normally until the thermostat opened allowing the coolant to flow. Even with a 180F thermostat the jump from starting temperature to operating temp was to 195F. If anything the reading should have been around the thermostats operational value of 180F.

The new temp sender responds has the expected function. IMG_1598



63 T-Bird Rear Tail Lights…

If you look from the rear, you can see that the left tail light lens is dull and the red has faded throughout the years, more than likely it is the original from the factory. The right side was probably replaced with a Ford part many years ago.

I had this idea of cleaning them up with plastic cleaner and when I removed the metal circular piece I found in both cases the plastic lens was cracked in multiple places and the metal piece was actual holding it all together!


The tail light bucket seemed to be in really good condition. Both sides were in the same condition. Once I wiped it down they were good as new.

I’ll be looking a replacement set but not the original 1963 model as it will be difficult to find and the cost would be much higher.


Hi flow water pump delivered…

In my quest for a cooler running 63′ I ordered a high flow water pump from Summit Racing. The Milidon 16245 part number MIL-16245 uses a plate tac welded to the impeller blades. The original water pump did not. One of the reasons for changing the pump was to confirm that a backing plate was installed and also installed in the right orientation.