Live Auctions

Driving Project: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

While some enthusiasts focus on locating a 100% original classic to own and restore, others will seek a promising but non-original candidate representing a straightforward build. This 1957 Ford Thunderbird fits into the second category. It is a solid vehicle that runs and drives well. It will allow the new owner to immediately revel in the classic car experience while deciding how to tackle their project. The seller’s decision to price it very competitively adds to its appeal. The T-Bird is listed here on Barn Finds Classifieds in Fords, New Jersey. It could be yours by handing the owner $18,000.

The seller is candid about this classic, admitting it is not totally original. That appears to extend to the paint, which is a shade that doesn’t appear on the ’57 T-Bird color chart. I’m not entirely sure, but unless it was a Special Order, I suspect the hue currently gracing its panels could be a 1959 color called Brandywine Red. It generally holds a decent shine, although the rear quarter panels and deck lid require a refresh. It would be tempting to go the whole hog and repaint the entire vehicle because it shouldn’t be difficult and will help ensure consistency across the exterior. The panels are straight, but the best news is that this Ford remains rust-free. The panels are clean, and the original floors show no problems. The chrome and glass are fine for a driver-grade vehicle, while the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels add a classy finishing touch.

One aspect of this Thunderbird requiring no attention is its interior. The seller admits the upholstery isn’t a factory combination, but the Burgundy and White trim perfectly complements the exterior. There is some slight stretching on the driver’s side of the seat, but there’s no wear or physical damage requiring attention. The matching carpet looks fine for a survivor, as does the dash pad. The overall condition helps reinforce how straightforward this project will be.

Buyers could order their new Thunderbird in 1957 with various versions of the 292ci or 312ci V8. It is unclear which this car originally featured, but that is irrelevant today. The engine bay houses a 289ci V8 hooked to an automatic transmission. The specs of that V8 are unclear, but it should easily match the entry-level 292’s output in the most conservative C-Code form. If the buyer seeks more, components to extract additional ponies are readily available and affordable. The seller indicates this Ford runs and drives well. They say they drove this beauty to Naples, Florida, a few years ago with no problems. That’s a return journey of more than 2,400 miles, which is pretty impressive. It suggests the buyer could enjoy this classic immediately, tackling the cosmetic restoration as time and circumstances allow.

Tidy driver-grade cars will always prove attractive as project vehicles, which is what this 1957 Thunderbird represents. With its panels straight and its overall rust-free state, a fresh coat of paint would have it shining like a new penny. Completing that work would be an excellent way to occupy the cooler months when hitting the road for a weekend outing looks less enticing. A concerted effort could see the T-Bird ready to go when the sun shows its face again, ensuring this classic turns heads wherever it goes. I can think of worse ways to spend winter than in the workshop, striving towards that goal. If that sounds too tempting to resist, it could be worth pursuing this beauty further.


  1. JCH841

    Nice drive as you restore, non-original (i.e., not eye watering price). Must keep scrolling least I empty my bank account and have to move into the shed.

    Like 5
  2. jdb

    289? so there is a later model mustang v8 that could be 224 hp or 271 hp a lot of other options. would be nice to know what engine year. Probably runs good, but is the mileage on the odometer the total car or the total engine. a shame as I wouldn’t mind having the car but just too many unknowns.

  3. V8roller

    That paint looks like AMC’s Concord Maroon.
    Perfect with the narrow whites.
    And a matching interior.
    Hard to beat this colour combo.

    As regards the paint needs, do agree that reds are hard to match, and if they match at the time of painting they won’t in a few years’ time.

    Like 1
  4. nick

    that is the original color…Ford offered 1958 colors on late 57 because the 58 was a new model and hit the showrooms late in the year…have seen many 57 TBIRDs this color on in net…

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