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1966 Thunderbird AM/FM radio

Discussion in '1955 - 2005 Thunderbird Parts for Sale/wanted' started by old timer, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. I am looking for an AM/FM radio for my 66 TB. If you have one to sell or know of someone who has one let me know.
  2. Your best place to look for one of these would be a parts house that's parting out used Thunderbirds. That being said, there are three things you need to be aware of when shopping for one of these. (1) Have deep pockets, as these sets go for around $600-800 in any condition. (2) If somebody has one, definitely verify that it's a 1966 instead of a 1965. They look identical from the front of the dash, but they are quite different. The 1965 (TOB5TBS) has a single power transistor on the side of the radio. The 1966 (TOB6TBS) has two. The 1965 radio is about the worst radio out there, in terms of what you pay and what you get for it. Reception and audio quality are disappointing. The 66 is better, but still quite lousy compared to the Motorola AM set. The AM/FM sets are made by Bendix. (3) Be careful of the fader control. They are wired differently on the 66 as compared to the 65. Since the 65 and 66 AM sets are the same, I've often wondered if they actually had two different wiring harnesses for an AM vs/ AM/FM set. Possibly they didn't offer the fader AM version in 66? The four-pin connectors are the same, but plug in the wrong set and you can't adjust front to back properly.

    Also, be careful. These sets are notorious for intermittent reception -- hit a bump and the radio station goes away. Hit another bump and it comes back. They are also known for power transistors blowing ($50 part if you can find one).

    Also the flipover buttons on the 65 can get sloppy. The buttons work, but they don't always switch to AM or FM properly. This mechanism was greatly improved for 66.

    It so happens I came across a 1965 radio in pristine condition. My car is a 64, but don't tell anyone. Surprisingly it looks brand new and the buttons work better than any one I've seen. I've converted it to AM/FM stereo.
    biddle and Dj-Dan like this.
  3. Do you know where the speakers should be on a 64?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2019
    Dj-Dan likes this.
  4. On the 64, and 65 for that matter, you had three radio options (not counting the reverb). Standard was a Motorola AM radio, with a single 4x10 speaker in the center of the dash. Radio model was 4TMS, or 5TMS for the 65. Optional was a rear speaker. If you look at the back seat, the bird emblem above the center armrest has louvers around it. If it's solid, no rear speaker. If you have the louvers, the car has a rear speaker option. Speaker is 5x7. Radio model is 4TMS/F, or 5TMS/F, signifying the radio has a fader control behind the tuning knob.,

    The third option was the AM/FM radio, which includes a fader control and a rear speaker. Radio model is F4TBS for 64, or TOB5TBS for 65.

    The reverb option disables the fader if equipped, and adds a switch/control under the dash to control the echo through the rear speaker.

    To elaborate a little more on my former comments, Bendix radios from about 1955 through the mid 60's are awful sets. They were used in late 50's Fords and Mopars, and AM/FM sets from about 1962-66 on Fords, Mopars, and a few others (except 1966 Lincoln, when they got smart and switched to Delco. So did Chrysler in the late 60's.

    The late 50's Bendix AM sets were okay at the time, but the components go bad over time. These sets are notorious for intermittent problems -- hit a bump and reception fades, hit another bump and it returns. You will tear your hair out trying to fix it, and most shops won't touch them. Same with the 1962-66 AM/FM sets, but these sets have additional goodies, like germanium power transistors that blow, cost $50 each to replace, and blow again if you don't track down the bias problem that causes it. The "Second generation" Bendix AM/FM's (starting in 1967) are a big improvement -- still nothing to write home about in terms of performance, but much more reliable.

    I might add that, yes, I do conversions of old radios to AM/FM Stereo. You could look at it two ways. Either my answer is always going to be a conversion, or this: I got involved in the conversions because it's the best answer for a lot of these sets. Some of the older radios, such as 1950's Buicks, are really good sets, but of course they're AM only. So I'm filling the need.
  5. I was very lucking last week I found a mint AM/FM radio for my 66 Bird.
  6. Are you still looking for an AM FM Radio ??
  7. Hi, I'm Mark, and I have an am/fm 66 radio available. Please let me know if you are interested...

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