Amazing Factory Supercharged 1957 Ford Thunderbird

If you are passionate about any car that wears the blue-oval badge, you are going to fall in love with this 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Even if your allegiance rests with another make, it is hard not to feel complete respect for this classic. It seems that Barn Finder Larry D has an excellent radar because he referred this striking Ford to us. So, thank you for that, Larry. This car isn’t merely about good looks because its engine bay houses the potent F-Code V8. It also counts a legendary owner in its history, so there’s a lot to unpack with this T-Bird. It is now set to go to a new home, so you will find it listed for auction here at Mecum Auctions. It is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it is scheduled to go under the hammer on Friday, May 21st.

Embarking on the classic car ownership experience can be a challenging one, and broadly speaking, there are three paths that potential buyers can follow. They can hunt for a car that is an original and unmolested survivor that is ready to be driven and enjoyed. They might also choose to purchase a recently-restored vehicle, or lastly, they might buy a classic that is prime for restoration. Those last two options are the ones that are the most fraught with danger because it leaves unwary owners as the potential prey for unscrupulous restorers. Choosing the right company to massage your pride-and-joy is essential, and it appears that the owner of this Thunderbird got it right. He entrusted the Thunderbird to the father-and-son team of Amos and Justin Minter, renowned 1st generation T-Bird specialists from Dallas, Texas. They stripped the vehicle down to the last nut and bolt and restored it with care and an unwavering eye for detail. The panels are now laser straight, with not a ripple or mark visible anywhere. The car was then repainted in its original Raven Black, including the factory hardtop. The paint has an amazing depth and shine, and it feels like you could literally sink into it. The original owner ordered the Thunderbird with tinted glass, and this is all as flawless as the rest of this beautiful Ford. The external trim is in showroom condition, as are the magnificent wire wheels that are wrapped in wide whitewall tires. Tracing the ownership history has proved interesting and has uncovered an owner who should be a familiar name to American performance and race car enthusiasts. It once belonged to a gentleman by the name of Jack Roush, and the owner includes a copy of the Title that verifies this. Roush is a name that has long been associated with the Ford brand in motorsport, with success in arenas like drag racing, Trans Am, IMSA GT, and NASCAR. It is no surprise that he would choose to own the most potent production ’57 Thunderbird that money could buy, although when he did so is not clear.

Apart from its ownership history, lifting the hood of this ’57 reveals what makes this an extraordinary car. Ford introduced an F-Code V8 to the Thunderbird line in 1957, and a mere 196 cars were produced before production ceased. What gave these engines serious performance credentials was the McCulloch/Paxton supercharger that was bolted to the 312ci V8. In normally-aspirated form, this V8 was capable of producing a maximum of 270hp. With suitable upgrades and the blower in place, that figure rose to a conservative 300hp. Those cars became affectionately known as the “F-Birds,” and they have become a legend in the classic world. As well as the F-Code V8, this car also features a 3-speed automatic transmission and “Master Guide” power steering. Ford produced the Thunderbird as a personal luxury car and didn’t perceive it as a direct competitor to Chevrolet’s Corvette. However, comparing the performance figures between this F-Bird and the most potent offering in the Corvette range of 1957 makes interesting reading. The F-Bird as it sits here should be capable of devouring the ¼-mile in a neat 15 seconds. The most potent offering in the Corvette range was the 283ci “fuelie” V8. This motor produced a rather convenient 283hp, and even though it was only offered in manual form, it still took a marginally slower 15.2 seconds to cover the same journey. Specify the Corvette with the most powerful motor that was available with an automatic transmission and that ET blew out to 16.4 seconds. What makes these figures even more startling is the weights that these engines had to haul. The Corvette tipped the scales at 3,010lbs, while the F-Bird was a rather tubby 3,440lbs. Ford may not have considered the Thunderbird to be a direct rival to the ‘Vette, but the F-Bird changed that game. The Minters have woven their magic over this F-Bird, and the engine bay is stunning. The eye for detail is second to none, with all of the hoses, clamps, painted surfaces, and plated pieces faithful to the way the car was when it rolled off the production line. The restoration was completed earlier this year, and the owner hasn’t gone out of his way to wear this Ford out since then. It has accumulated a paltry 57 test miles to ensure that everything is working as it should be.

With an unstinting level of attention to detail on the rest of the car, it should be no surprise to learn that the interior of this F-Bird appears to be factory fresh. The Minters attacked every aspect of the trim and equipment, and the result is a breathtaking interior. It is a sea of red trim, and against a backdrop of Raven Black paint, it looks striking. Of course, the fact that the car has traveled a mere 57-miles since the restoration was completed means that there hasn’t been a chance for it to accumulate any form of wear or tear. Your eyes drink in details like the beautiful red upholstery and carpet, the machine-turned trim, and the gauges that feature crisp markings and clear lenses. The original owner ordered the F-Bird equipped with a Town & Country radio, which still occupies its rightful place in the dash.

With only 196 cars rolling off the production line in 1957, the F-Bird was already a rare vehicle in a production total of 21,380 Thunderbirds for that model year. Pushing the rarity stakes even further is the fact that this is 1-of-53 known to have been finished in Raven Black. This is a car that would suit an owner seeking perfection, but they will need to have a healthy bank balance if they wish to park it in their garage. It will easily achieve a solid six-figure sale price, with the average F-Bird sales figure currently sitting at $250,000 when they come onto the market. The World Record sale price for a ’57 Thunderbird was set in 2014. That car was an E-Code and not the more desirable F-Code. It was a vehicle that Amos and Justin Minter had also restored, and when the hammer fell on that one, bidding had reached an eye-watering $330,000. I may be wrong, but I believe that the record could fall in a few short weeks, and I think it will be the buyer of this car that will be the proud new holder of that record.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Thank you Adam for the thorough write-up. A beautiful car with a high-end restoration from the Minter folks. I get a news feed from Mecum and this car is one they are promoting for the Indy auction. I will sit back and curiously await what it will bring at auction.

    Like 13
  2. Moparman Member

    Everything about this one is just SO RIGHT! Even though I normally like the looks of the ’55 more so than the ’57, I am drooling over this car! I, too will await the final auction result, as I know that it will be MUCH, MUCH, more than I could even conceive of spending! :-)

    Like 8
  3. MattR Member

    I did not know about the F-Code option with my bucket-list Thunderbird. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing. A lot of sweat-equity went into making this better than new. Wishful thinking, but It should to be driven.

    Like 4
  4. ArtyParty

    Hmmm, “it will be the buyer of this car that will be the proud new holder of that record.” Not sure I’d want to be the holder of a record like that! I bet the guy that paid $330k for an E-Code is starting to get the sweats!

    Like 5
  5. Todd

    In the area I grew up in in MD there was one of these in a rickety old garage that had this motor in it. The hardtop didn’t have the port holes either. Don’t know whatever happened to it.

    Like 2
  6. greg

    It might be where the pics were taken, but not so sure the body panels are perfect. Would have to see it in person, and anyone who will be paying the money that this one will go for should see it or have someone else look at it.

  7. egads

    If Minter did this car you can bet it’s perfect!!!

    Like 13
  8. Melton Mooney

    In the early 70’s I had an E code T’Bird. Factory 2x4barrel carbs. White, automatic. Nice car for a kid…but I wanted to street race with my buds. Sold the Thunderbird and built a pretty hot little ’67 camaro rs/ss with the money.

    Like 2
  9. Larry D

    @egads
    You wrote: “If Minter did this car you can bet it’s perfect!!!”

    Absolutely, positively right! He has been doing Early ‘Birds for 50 years. He IS Mr. Thunderbird.

    I think the best testament to his quality was made by Amos Minter himself. Someone mentioned to him once that his cars are way over-restored. They said that as if to find fault with his restorations. Amos Minter responded by saying his customers didn’t want 1957 Ford quality!

    That says it all.

    Like 16
    • Dickie F.

      We have a one owner 70 Mach One which we got running after a 30 year slumber.
      Once it was back on the road, we decided to have the bodywork restored. A glass out fully stripped repair.
      It was returned in under two months, in a original condition so stunning, we now live with a vehicle that we are too protective of, to drive.
      Somehow, we got it wrong.

      Like 3
  10. MikeB

    What an absolutely stunning car !! Blower motor, wire wheels, porthole top, it just does not get any better than this in the baby bird world.

    Like 6
  11. Steve Thompson

    Maybe someone can tell me why there is a knot in the coil wire between the coil and the distributor ??? If this is restored to factory + standards did it come from the factory that way ?

    Like 1
  12. Rocco J Russo

    My stepfather had a 57, it was given to him when his Aunt passed away. She purchased the car for the butler to walk the dogs.(not kidding) It had been modified, I am not sure who did the work but they cut out the section behind the seats and made a bench for the dogs to ride. I used to sit in this spot when we occasionally took the car out or when he used it at the dragstrip as a chase car for his funny car. Unfortunately, it was in a moving van fire. He kept the car and when we moved to Portland, Oregon he ended up selling it to my Uncle who restored it then later sold it.

    Like 1
  13. Larry Member

    Many years ago, I sold a 57 T-bird to Amos Minter that needed to be totally restored. It had the 312 with the 3sp on the floor. I drove the car to him to his facility in Dallas, TX from Carthage, IL. I can attest personally that Amos is the best early T-bird restorer in the world.

    Like 1
  14. DuesenbergDino

    Restoration work is extremely precise in every exacting detail. It’s very easy to “over restore” a vehicle simply due to new products and procedures. Today’s environmental laws prohibit the old types of lacquer and other paints from being manufactured or used. Panel gaps on most classic vehicles were atrocious to say the least. Ultra fine sandpaper (up to 6000 grit) was unheard of 20 years ago. So all of these things and more make it extraordinarily easy to put out an overdone restoration. But… everyone is so super critical of every “flaw” that we have accepted this as the standard to judge all vehicles by. If I’m restoring a Duesenberg it better be a CCCA 100 point award winner, not just a good looking car.

    Like 3
  15. Steve Steinborn

    I didn’t know they had that style of supercharger back then. I thought they was all that root style or whatever it’s called that sat on top of the engine.

  16. MikeB

    I believe that is a Paxton supercharger which was used on Ford engines of that era and into the 60’s. Someone please correct me if I have my wires crossed.

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