One of 1,363 factory E-Codes built
1957 Ford Thunderbird
Chassis no. E7FH139732
*Scarce "E-Code" option
*Original color scheme
*Attractive Inca Gold paint to high standard
*Very well optioned
*Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels
*Recent, enjoyable test drive
Although appearing later than Chevrolet's sporty Corvette, Ford's "personal luxury" Thunderbird became far more popular, selling more than 16,000 cars in its first year. First shown at the Detroit Auto Show in February 1954, it entered production that September. Its sleek two-seater body displayed many contemporary Ford design cues, and available power trains came from the regular Ford catalog. All cars had the 292 cubic inch "Y-Block" V8, while transmission choices included standard three-speed manual, manual-with-overdrive, or the popular self-shifting Ford-O-Matic. Customers could order a folding soft top, removable fiberglass hard top, or both.
For 1956, the Thunderbird was given a few subtle changes. The spare tire, which had intruded on luggage space, was relocated to a "Continental" mounting on the rear bumper. Wind wings were added to the trailing edge of the windshield, cowl vents to the front fenders, and the hard top gained porthole windows in the rear quarters. An optional 312 cubic inch Thunderbird Special engine made 225bhp with Ford-O-Matic.
More extensive changes were made for 1957, comprising a new grille, dashboard and subtly sculpted fins on the rear fenders. While the standard engine was still the 292, there were four versions of the 312, with power ratings up to 300bhp. Most potent was the "F-Code" unit, which used a single four-barrel carburetor force-fed by a McCulloch supercharger. Not far behind was the "E-Code" normally-aspirated engine, developing 270bhp with twin four-barrels, 285 with an optional special cam.
Although the supercharged "F-Code" Thunderbird is the rarest and most powerful model, the twin-four-barrel E-Code is considered by many to be the better driver's car. Less temperamental and easier to drive, it offers turn-key convenience with faithful reliability. Of the 21,380 Thunderbirds produced in 1957, only 1,363 had the box ticked for the E-Code option.
This E-Bird rolled off Ford's Dearborn, Michigan production line on November 9th, 1957 in its current color scheme of Inca Gold with White interior and a Tan top. The original owner, a gentleman from southern Illinois, was not stingy when selecting the options when he ordered the car, including both tops, the Ford-O-Matic transmission, Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, a heater, optional radio, fender skirts, back-up lights, wide white walls, and he specifically requested the Dual-Quad E-Code package.
The T-Bird's first caretaker kept the car for 35-40 years before it was sold by his widow at auction. The car passed through the hands of only one other owner before coming under the care of the present vendor.
Presented in restored condition, the writer enjoyed test driving the car on a recent photo shoot. Certainly turning the heads of passersby, it was quite fleet of foot, demonstrating the added get-up-and-go from the factory improved engine setup.
With only three owners from new and an impressive list of option, this Thunderbird is sure to stand above the rest!