Custom Classic: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

The number of choices that an owner can make when undertaking a classic car build is only limited by their imagination. There are probably more choices to be made than there are classic cars available in the market today. The owner of this 1957 Thunderbird has tried to retain the car’s classic good looks with some performance upgrades that should make it a more potent beast on our roads. It needs somebody to finish the work, but could you be that person? If so, you will find the Thunderbird located in Riverdale, Georgia, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has hit $7,200, but this figure is below the reserve.

At first glance, this Thunderbird looks like an unfinished project where the owner has recently applied a new coat of paint. However, there is more to this car than meets the eye. The hood and front clip are not genuine Ford products but are fiberglass reproductions. These should be lighter than the original panels, and combined with the improved engine under the hood, should provide better performance levels. The owner describes the paint color as Baby Blue, and it’s unlike anything that I could find on any Thunderbird color chart of the period. The paint shines nicely, and it seems that there are no flaws and faults to be seen with this aspect of the car. As well as the fiberglass panels, the vehicle comes with an aftermarket fiberglass hardtop that wears Black vinyl. This Thunderbird features a Continental Kit, but this will need finishing as it remains unpainted. The owner says that the windshield will require replacement, but the remaining glass is in good order. The chrome is excellent, and all of the hubcaps are present. It appears that this Thunderbird needs nothing beyond the finishing touches to get its exterior to a high level of finish.

When it was shiny and new, the engine bay of this Thunderbird was occupied by the 312ci Y-Block V8. That motor has been consigned to the pages of history because we now find a 351ci Windsor V8 backed by an automatic transmission. The owner has recently fitted a new Holley carburetor to the motor, and the car also rolls on new tires and features new brakes. It isn’t clear whether it runs or drives at this stage, but since the owner appears approachable, he may be willing to answer questions on this subject. What is worth noting is that this Thunderbird will be lighter than it would have been originally with the fiberglass panels. Add in the more powerful motor under the hood, and this car should have pretty sparkling performance.

The Thunderbird’s interior could best be described as a work in progress. The owner has recently installed a new carpet set, and the seat upholstery appears relatively fresh. The dash looks to be in good order, and the factory radio is intact. The Hardtop features an intact headliner that is in good condition. The door trims have seen better days, and the buyer will probably choose to source replacements. Otherwise, it seems that it will only be a case of tidying the rough edges to get this interior presenting nicely. It means that it could involve more time than money, which is never bad in any project build.

As a project build, this 1957 Thunderbird shows a lot of promise. The custom touches won’t appeal to every potential buyer, but I believe that many will see this as an attractive package. The bidding history to date would seem to support that view. Once complete, it should offer significantly improved performance compared to when it rolled off the line. I would love to think that one of our enthusiastic readers will take this one on because I would love to see the finished product and learn how well it runs and drives.


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    One of these days I will have a ’57 TBird … I’ve had two ’55s over the years, both manual trans models, and enjoyed them both … I like the clean lines of the ’57 but it did not come with the continental kit – only the ’56 did … car of choice would be an F-Type but I don’t have that kind of cash … in my opinion the ’57 TBird was one of the most beautiful cars along with the BMW 507, XKE, and Ferrari 250 California … those three are way outta my pocketbook but the TBird is attainable … good ol’ American iron …

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