California Shed Find: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

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Sometimes estate sales can come with their downsides, which is the case with this 1957 Ford Thunderbird. When its owner passed away, most of the information about this classic and its history went with him. It is now being offered for sale to finalize his estate, and the seller knows little about the vehicle. It looks like it has been sitting for a while, but it is a project car that seems to offer a lot of potential when you look more closely. Located in Studio City, California, you will find the Thunderbird listed for sale here on eBay. A single bid of $12,000 has been made in what is a No Reserve auction.

The photos that the seller supplies of the Starmist Blue T-Bird aren’t great, but they tell an encouraging story. It appears that this old classic might have spent its life in California, and for anyone considering tackling this as a restoration, that is excellent news. There is a reasonable chance that the vehicle has managed to remain rust-free, which would make it a sound starting point for a project build. There is no rust visible in the pictures, and the single photo that the seller supplies showing the inside of the trunk reveals it to be solid and clean. If the floors and frame continue that trend, this Ford could be a winner. The panels have a few minor dings, but there’s nothing that is beyond repair. The exterior trim and chrome will need some work because some pieces have suffered from significant deterioration. The tinted glass appears to be in good order, while the same is true of the hardtop.

It isn’t clear whether the Thunderbird is numbers-matching, but the V8 that we see here should be the D-Code version of the 312 that would produce 245hp. The vehicle also features an automatic transmission and power steering. While Ford didn’t consider the Thunderbird to be a sports car or a natural competitor to the Corvette, it could still acquit itself well in the performance stakes. Point this Thunderbird at a ¼-mile, and the journey should be over in 16.4 seconds. The Corvette was definitely faster, but the Ford was considered to be more luxurious. It appears that it has been a while since this car has seen the road, and it isn’t clear whether the engine even turns freely. If it does, reviving it might not be a complicated process. However, I suspect that the buyer will probably pull the V8 so that the engine bay can be painted and detailed. That would provide a golden opportunity to thoroughly inspect the motor and undertake any required work to ensure that it is reliable once it has been slotted back into place.

Time marches on, and it seems to have marched through the interior wearing army boots. There’s no other way to say it, but the T-Bird’s interior will require a complete restoration. The seat cover isn’t original, while the door trims, dash pad, and carpet are all due for replacement. This is the part of the project that is guaranteed to hurt. Trim kits are available and would return the interior to a factory-fresh state. However, they do cost around $2,400. For that money, you get genuine leather, which would maintain the luxurious feel. The original radio has made way for a radio/cassette player, while there is an under-dash air conditioner.

If you walked out your front door today with $20,000 in your pocket, you might be lucky enough to come home with a ’57 Thunderbird. However, that is a car that would require plenty of work to bring it to a high standard. Double that figure, and you start to delve into the area of tidy and clean driver-quality vehicles. If this one is as sound as the photos indicate, it should be a straightforward project. Like so many classic cars, the Thunderbird has ridden a rollercoaster recently, but values have begun to head upwards. That makes this an excellent time to look at them closely and might make it worth the time and effort to pursue this one further.

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  1. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    I fail to understand the fixation with quarter-mile performance. Like any of us guys are gonna drag race this thing, or any of the other old cars featured.

    OK, I did run my ’67 Newport up to 100 last Thanksgiving, but I was leaving my in-laws place, so that makes sense.

    Like 66
    • jwzg

      If this car was being given away for the best post, you’d win it.

      Like 9
  2. DRV

    Something isn’t right with that hardtop. Aftermarket? Porthole trim is way wrong.

    Like 4
    • Stephen G Paulus

      Maybe a non-porthole top thats been converted?

      Like 2
    • jokacz

      I think it’s a real OEM top, just looks terrible with all the chrome trim missing. Car sold for $15,200.

      Like 1
  3. On and On On and OnMember

    Adam, that was a great write up and assessment.

    Like 4
  4. ruxvette

    Hmmm, been smacked on both ends. Front fenders are pooched out. Rear bumper is U shaped and the sheet metal in that area looks bondo rippled. The nose T-Bird emblem has been shaved probably when it went from some shade of green (check the A pillar) to blue. At $15k it’s too high unless a DIYer wants it as a hobby.

    Like 2
  5. Steve

    The seller can’t be bothered to even put in enough air to take a picture?!!!!

    Like 2

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