1957 Ford Thunderbird Roadster with Hardtop
Chassis no. D7FH154842
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.
The example offered here left the Dearborn factory on December 1, 1957, only 12 days before the last of the classic, two-seater T-birds rolled off the line on December 13. Powered by the optional 'D' code 312ci V8 producing 245hp, the rare and more sporting 3-speed manual with overdrive was chosen over the Ford-O-Matic found in so many other cars. Originally finished in Raven black with matching hardtop and convertible top and black/white interior, around the late 1990s the car was restored in Colonial White with red hides. In 2006, the correct Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels that it has today were fitted along with a new convertible topa white, port-holed hardtop is also included.
Acquired by the vendor in 2007, the car has since received careful, regular maintenance and been driven sparingly. A fantastic driver, it started quickly and idled smoothly on the author's visit. A more interesting car to pilot with the manual transmission, this icon of the '50s is surefire way to enjoy a drive no matter the place or distance.