CC Capsule: 1966 Thunderbird Town Landau – The T Bird Comes Down With Brougham Fever

(first posted 8/16/2017)       Brougham fever was virulent in 1966 at Ford, and the results speak for themselves. Who needs rear side windows anyway? Despite the fact that switching to a four passenger format in 1958 was the key breakthrough for T Bird sales, Ford knew that many lovers of the ’55-’57 T Birds were never quite resigned to that fact. So Ford kept placating them in ways to make the Flair Bird look more like a two passenger car, like this 1966 Town Landau. Convincing?

The previous effort was the Sports Roadster, essentially a fiberglass tonneau cover over the rear seats with built in headrests, available on the previous generation Bullet Bird. It sold in very modest numbers then, but there’s more than ever nowadays.

For 1966, Ford offered the new “Town” hardtop as an alternative to the traditional hardtop, which didn’t exactly have much of a rear side window to start with. I found the new roof style jarring and inharmonious in the fall of 1965 when  I first saw it. The huge C Pillar and that curve in the trailing upper edge of the door glass just didn’t work for me. It still doesn’t, but then I hadn’t yet come down with Brougham fever. Well, I never did, for that matter. Maybe because I was a foreigner, and had natural immunity?

The vinyl roof and fake landau bars of the Town Landau worked even less for me.

But I was a sucker for the T Bird’s interior, and had been ever since I first saw a Bullet Bird shortly after arriving in the US in the fall of 1960. I absolutely loved it. Frankly, the Overhead safety Panel was a lot more sizzle than steak, with a quartet of warning lights. That’s ok; at least the T Bird hadn’t succumbed to Brougham Fever on the inside; yet. It was still early 60s style, with thin, sporty bucket seats and lots of bright work and space-age influence. That all changed quickly starting in 1967; ’66 was the last year I could still muster some enthusiasm for the T Bird’s interior.

It’s hard to think of a more appealing interior; the ’63 Riviera comes close, but I have to give the nod to the T Bird.

But back on the outside, that Town Landau just doesn’t cut it. And this one is sporting that same color combo that afflicted 83% of every car coming out of Detroit between 1966 and 1970. The effect is to make it look much less exclusive.

Brougham Fever’s first symptoms invariable manifest themselves on the roof and C Pillar, and the Thunderbird is no exception. Poor thing; it wouldn’t recover until 1983.