Just like the nice folks in alt.autos.ford said, the
shift-lever-stuck-in-Park problem was caused by a bad brake light
switch. (Ford calls it the "stop switch".)
My Thunderbird reliably comes out of Park now, without the "turn the
key partway towards Run and shift into Neutral before starting" trick.
The old switch tested good with an ohmmeter. But replacing the switch
definitely fixed it. The switch only cost $5.99 at the local auto
Four suggestions for anyone with the same problem:
1. Ask for a "stop switch" not a "brake switch" when you go to the
auto parts store.
2. Slide the black plastic bushing into the linkage for the brake
cylinder before you try to slide on the switch. That will save you an
hour of cursing.
3. Remove the old switch and put it somewhere far away before
removing the new switch from its box. You will drop the new switch at
least once while installing it, and the new switch looks a lot like
the old switch.
4. Use a headlamp. It's impossible to hold a flashlight while
installing the switch. Get a headlamp with the batteries in the
front. If the batteries are in back then they will poke you when you
rest your head against the floormat. The Eveready LED headlamp is
only $13 at Walmart and works well for this job. There is a review of
it at http://www.tincher.to/review.htm
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