BF Auction: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Bid to: $9,000View Result

Although Ford didn’t have Chevrolet’s Corvette in its sights when it released the Thunderbird, some buyers saw it as a viable alternative. It was difficult to separate the pair on price, but the deciding factor was personal preferences. If a hard-edged sports car was the goal, the Corvette was the obvious choice. If buyers sought greater refinement and comfort, they usually chose the Thunderbird. The seller’s father was this 1957 Thunderbird’s second owner, purchasing it around 1966. It saw regular use until being placed in dry storage in 1975. It requires restoration, but the new owner can start the project from a sound foundation. The T-Bird is located in Portland, Oregon, and is listed exclusively here on Barn Finds Auctions.

The Tag indicates the T-Bird rolled off the line wearing Colonial White paint, but a previous owner performed a color change to Raven Black. With areas like the engine bay sporting the original shade, the buyer will probably elect to return the car to its factory appearance. Although it has hibernated for more than four decades, the dry storage environment is positive news for potential buyers. The seller had the vehicle inspected by Thunderbird specialists, who confirmed this classic is totally rust-free. That is positive news because it removes a significant potential cost from this project. It means its panel and paint issues are purely cosmetic, with no structural issues to tackle. The seller’s father placed the car into storage with its Black convertible top raised, allowing it to remain tight and free from wrinkles or other problems. It is surprising to find the rear window clear and showing no evidence of clouding, which is rare in a T-Bird of this vintage. Some trim pieces, like the bumpers, would benefit from a trip to the platers, but the remaining components should respond well to old-fashioned elbow grease and a high-quality polish. The glass looks spotless, and the overall impression is that returning this ’57 Thunderbird to its former glory should be straightforward.

Although the entry-level engine for the ’57 Thunderbird was the 292ci Y-Block, this car’s original owner upgraded to the 312ci version producing 245hp. They added a three-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes to underpin this classic’s luxury leanings. While Ford preferred to consider the T-Bird as a personal luxury car rather than a sports car, the ¼-mile ET of 16.4 seconds meant it could show a similarly-equipped Corvette a clean set of heels. The seller says the car hasn’t run since 1975, but a check reveals the engine turns free. Given the robust nature of the Y-Block, reviving it may require nothing more than essential maintenance and a fuel system clean. The seller provides the new owner with valuable resources in the original Handbook and a 1955-1957 Parts Digest Manual.

Ford’s luxury focus becomes apparent when we examine this Thunderbird’s interior. The original owner ticked some desirable boxes on the Order Form, equipping this beauty with power windows, a power seat, and a Town & Country radio. The interior features seatbelts, but I believe they are a later addition and the only aftermarket components. The Tag confirms the original owner selected Code XA Raven Black and Colonial White upholstery. I believe the previous owner may have changed this when they performed to exterior color change, but the parts are readily available to return it to its former glory. An interior trim kit in Black and White leather retails for around $2,200, and while that seems a significant cost, it is worth placing in perspective. That kit includes everything required to return the interior to showroom condition. If properly maintained and treated respectfully, there is no reason why it shouldn’t still present perfectly in fifty years. It suddenly looks pretty cheap when you divide the initial outlay by the projected lifespan! It’s also worth remembering that it represents a wise investment when considering this car’s potential value.

Recent sales results indicate that if restored to a high standard, this 1957 Thunderbird should command a value of $50,000 any day of the week. It needs work to get there, but its strongest attributes are that it is complete, and the buyer can leave the grinder and welder in the cupboard for this build. That makes it ideal for a novice or someone wishing to be genuinely hands-on. I hope someone breathes new life into this classic and returns it to its former glory. Dropping a bid or two would be an excellent starting point because the finished product would be worth the effort. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Location: Portland, Oregon
  • VIN: 40EEXA27J740019P
  • Mileage: 127,000
  • Title Status: Clean
  • Engine: 312ci D-Code V8 with single 4-barrel carburetor
  • Transmission: 3-Speed Ford-O-Matic

Bid On This Auction

High Bid: $9,000 (Reserve Not Met)
Ended: Nov 3, 2022 4:00pm MDT
High Bidder: bdougald
  • bdougald
    bid $9,000.00  2022-11-03 13:34:01
  • Axle bid $8,000.00  2022-11-02 21:57:55
  • Radstr3 bid $7,600.00  2022-11-01 22:56:31
  • Axle
    bid $7,500.00  2022-10-30 12:55:01
  • primo bid $6,000.00  2022-10-27 20:54:14
  • PJ Flynn bid $4,500.00  2022-10-27 18:13:24
  • JOB
    bid $4,000.00  2022-10-26 13:46:11

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Chuck Dickinson

    The write-up said it had been stored for 4 decades. The plates expired in Nov 77, which makes it 45 years, so that fits.

    Like 2
  2. 370zpp 370zppMember

    So much potential here.

    Like 1
  3. Camaro guy

    That Ford O Matic is not a 3speed it’s a 2speed, same as the Chevy power glide

    Like 0
    • Ed P

      The Fordomatic that was introduced in 1951 was a three speed transmission that started in 2nd gear. There were initially problems getting a smooth shift from 1st to 2nd, 1st was bypassed on normal startup. Later, the 1-2 shift problems were worked out and the transmission was rebranded as Cruseomatic for 1958. A later 2 speed transmission was developed for the Falcon and was branded Fordomatic.

      Like 2
      • Tbone

        Professor Ed

        Like 1
  4. Oldschool302

    The Ford-O-Matic is actually a 3 speed transmission. If you leave it in drive it starts out in 2nd. If you put it in low it will start out in 1st.

    Like 1
  5. Oldschool302

    I’ve seen this car very recently. It is a true Barn-Find not having seen the light of day for over 40-years. It’s been in storage in the same dry garage all that time, there was no indication of body or frame rust anywhere. It looks as solid as the day it left the factory. Not having run for decades, the mechanicals will need 40-years of deferred maintenance performed. The car rolls easily but I sure wouldn’t touch the brake pedal just yet. The interior would need little more than a thorough cleaning and maybe a carpet kit to come back to life. The paint is nothing special, but certainly serviceable if you don’t mind patina. This is a fantastic place to start for a full-restoration, or, just bring it back to life and drive it as a survivor. GLWTA.

    Like 0
  6. Oldschool302

    That is correct from the research I’ve done. A three-speed auto that starts in second if you select “D” or starts in first if you select “Low”, then will shift into 2nd and 3rd when “D” when the shifter is moved to “D”.

    Like 1
  7. Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

    The reserve is $9,500. We are almost there guys!

    Like 0

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