1966 Thunderbird 390 vs 428


Asked by ChrisStockslager Oct 08, 2019 at 03:43 AM about the 1966 Ford Thunderbird

Question type: General

Hello, there! My very first time posting on this
site! I’ve been in very deeply in love with
classic cars all my short life and since a 27-
year-old with two music degrees can’t
exactly afford a Duesenberg SJ, I’ve had my
eye on Thunderbirds for a while now -
particularly the 1966 vintage.  I know the Q
code 428 was an option, but a rather popular
one. My question is, which engine do you
prefer in this year and why? In my research, I
recall the extra 30 hp helps the car’s
acceleration somewhat in the 428. But what
are the pros and cons you folks find
regarding both engines and which would you
recommend for a first time classic car buyer?
Acceleration, maintenance, fuel and
additives, parts, anything that comes to

And no, it will not be my daily driver – they
will have to pry my 2010 V6 RAV4 from my
cold dead hands. ;)

Many thanks for your opinions!
- Chris

5 Answers


Buying an old car shouldn't be about options, like buying a new car, but about getting a car that's in the best condition you can find and afford. You might find a T-bird with a 390 that's pristine and somewhat affordable, while you might never find a bigger block that matches up with it. Beyond that, enthusiasts who've never owned an old car ted to think of them as a simple used car: they are NOT. The older the car, the greater the rarity of parts; a simple part can leave a car undrivable for months to years. Then there's labor. If you can't trust yourself to know everything there is to know and then do the work yourself, stay away from classic cars; especially cars like old T-Birds: they're terrible. REALLY. Stay away from newer exotics, as well. My "66 Impala SS sat unrun for a year waiting on what should have been a simple part. It was unavailable and I had to get a machine shop to make it. My Newish Bentley Bentayga was hit from behind and I thought repairs wound be simple. It sat for four months before repairs were done to my satisfaction.

2 people found this helpful.

How are ‘66 T-Birds worse than other classic cars?


To answer your question, how are T-Birds worse than other classic cars, they are laden with gadgets that are fragile at best. If you like them, they frequently never work: you like the flip around seats, just wait until the driver's seat sticks in the open door position. And it's not just convenience items, but devices that are critical to the intricate transmissions and engine controls. Find a T-Bird club and talk to members. Stick with simpler cars and preserve your sanity.

1 people found this helpful.

Either engine will have enough power for cruising.

1 people found this helpful.

The 390 was good for a 11 second 0 to 60 and the 428 shaved off about 2 seconds. Be aware that there was also a 2 barrel version of the 390. These cars are very heavy but they make great demolition derby cars because they are so strong.

2 people found this helpful.

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