Restore Or Part Out? 1957 Ford Thunderbird

1957 Ford Thunderbird

With most barn finds, it’s a bit of a mystery as to why they were parked in the first place. Were they parked simply because the owner stopped using them, did they break down, or were they replaced by a newer more efficient car? Well in the case of this Thunderbird, there’s no doubt as to why it was parked. It was in a front end collision leaving the driver’s side extensively damaged. To only make its situation worse, after being parked in the barn for 26 years, it now has rust issues as well. I’m not sure it’s worth restoring and might just be a parts car, but it does have its original 312 V8, 3 speed transmission and a clear title. Take a look at it here on eBay in Berea, Ohio and let me know if you think it’s worth saving or if it’s doomed to be a parts donor.


  1. Mike

    Parts car, and with the amount of rust showing and the pieces already missing from the motor, in my opinion you would be lucky to get much for it!!!

  2. David Montanbeau

    I paid 5000 for mine in 87 in the same shape.
    15k later minus the 12k Ford 427 HiRiser.

    • David Montanbeau

      Loved the 57

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Sorry to hear of your mis-fortune.

  3. Art Fink

    What a shame to see a car like this in this shape. Unfortunately, it’s a parts car. I did notice this appears to have an Overdrive Tranny, if it’s still present, someone would buy the unit for a non-OD tranny. Best bet is to strip it and sell off the usuable parts.

  4. JW

    Not worth the effort especially at the current bid. JMHO !!!

  5. RON

    I don’t think it is beyond restoration, but it is at a little above the current value and has not even reached the reserve. then there are a lot of dreamers out there and willing to part with their cash

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Ya know what they say….there is an @zz for every seat !

  6. jaygryph

    Honestly, I’d say make it safe to drive and run it as is. Can you imagine the faces of people at the car shows? The reactions would be priceless.

    Trolling aside, in all honesty if you did make this thing run/drive/steer/stop well enough to cruise it around town it’s almost assured that someone with a much bigger wallet than you will see it, be upset that you aren’t restoring it ‘like it should be!’ and will happily take it off your hands.

    People are funny. To most this looks like a parts car or scrap, but if it ran and drove and literally nothing else was changed, peoples perception of it alters dramatically.

    It’s fascinating what a good wash and tune up will do for a basket case like this. People really do lack vision a lot of the time.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Quote: “People really do lack vision a lot of the time.”. As well as those with more money than common sense. Maybe the same buyer will pony up the cash for the 57 Chevy Vert that is more than 50% on it’s way back to nature. Why not go all in on rot buckets? At this point, it’s a Title/VIN purchase. These high $ purchasers are not restorers….they are investors…in Serial Numbers. Everyone of my vehicles were put back together because of my love for vehicles. My sweat, research and disappointments, not for someone else, but for me and the satisfaction that comes with getting behind the wheel, knowing that I did it. Let the high rollers continue to spend….I take solace in knowing that what I did suits me and in the very least, preserves a part of American vehicle history.

      • jaygryph

        I dunno, I think it’d be fun to hammer this thing back into drivable shape. The price is leagues out of what I’d spend on it at this point but if this was a free or cheap car a relative made available, sure, I’d have a blast sticking it back together to hoon about town.

        I’ve pulled a lot of basket cases like this out of forests, barns, tow lots and sometimes even the crush line at wrecking yards, and mostly they’ve found new homes with people far more dedicated to the cause, but at least they didn’t become scrap.

        I imagine you’re probably right, this will go towards someone elses more complete build, rather than being built into a complete car. That’s a noble end for it and is probably the best one.

        But seriously, how chaotic would the reaction at a car show be if this thing came rattling up to the gate?

  7. Howard A Member

    Who knows why people let these things go. I guess at the time, it was just a worn out used car. I’ve heard of people junking original Avanti’s and Excalibur lost 2 cars to “Cash for Clunkers”. I guess it’s worth fixing, it is a ’57 T-Bird, one of the most sought after. Lot of work.

  8. Chris

    8 years ago I was at Barrett Jackson and talked to Amos Minter for about an hour. He and his son were polishing two of their cars for sale (both did over $110k). He is world renowned for restoring these beautiful cars. He mentioned that most of the cars he looks at for restoration candidates are not possible to really fix given the way the front and rear fenders are connected thru the rocker. He said most of what is left is garbage, and he turns a lot of folks away that bring cars to him.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      To each his own. No disrespect intended towards you personally but, I despise any vehicle auction house as they have stripped the antique auto/vehicle hobby away from those who actually care about it and tossed it into the hands of high dollar investors with no feelings what-so-ever, because of the all mighty dollar. The same goes for all of the cable network ratings based programs like Gas Monkey, who continually rape vehicles for astronomical profits. I’m all for capitalism, but at the risk of our heritage…I think not.

      • Chris

        My point was that this vintage of T-Bird is very difficult to get right when you restore it. The door alignment can be impossible because you can’t move the rear fender relative to the door. My Dad and I always look at the doors on T-Birds when we go to shows. Amos was a very interesting guy to talk to, it was a true honor.

        People complain about the BJ auctions, but those rich guys fun a lot of R&D in the aftermarket with their frivolous purchases. The collector car hobby is 10 times what is was 10 years ago. I actually think all that hype and buzz has helped the hobby. Yes, it is terribly expensive to buy a real LS6, but there are still a lot of fun cheap cars out there, and now you can open a catalog and buy parts for them.

        I have been into cars for years, and I have owned and still own a lot of junk, but I enjoy it. Like it or not the BJ auction is one of the best cars shows in the world for $35 to get in.

      • DrinkinGasoline

        Think what You like Chris,but aside the $35 fee, what will it actually cost you to be a player in that auction? I have 40 proud years under my belt with vehicles largely due to my father owning well over 100 off and on through those years. From Twin T trucks to Pacers and Zephyrs. I grew up with the Hemming’s Bible as my religion with numerous high dollar sales but NOT through auction house Pimps ! Sorry….No Sale here. The Bird is a VIN sale. As far as catalogs go, reproductions have their place but not on a true blood sweat and tears restoration.

      • DrinkinGasoline

        Here’s an example..When discharged from the Air Force in the early 90’s, I came across a basket case 1947 Indian Chief Roadmaster for sale at $350.00. I jumped on it, just because it was an Indian. Early 90’s…the internet was not so much so I had to rely on magazines and whatever else came about. It took a solid 7 years to track down, have shipped and install every single nut and bolt in order to insure that every piece on my 47 is ORIGINAL to Indian. Why ? Because that’s how it was made.
        Hagerty Insurance, recently appraised it at $65,000 only because it is, by definition…irreplaceable due to the current market. When My Grandson gets leave from the Navy, He comes home just to ride it as well as drive My DeSoto and My Bug……that my friend is what our hobby is all about….not profits, but a true love of our automotive past.

      • DrinkinGasoline

        I could honestly care less about the “thumbs down”. If You disagree, then say so, don’t hide behind a “thumb”.

  9. nessy

    Rough or not, you just don’t part out a 55/56/57 T Bird. The bidding is already at 7200 so I guess someone wants it. My friend has his 56 up for sale for 12000 and his car runs and drives fine but it does need a full restoration.

  10. ed

    headliner in great shape need to save the car and restore

    • DrinkinGasoline

      The headliner is your first concern?? Oh My…

      • ed

        humor , joking , why not restore it

      • DrinkinGasoline

        And while We’re at it….let’s rebuild the Hoover Dam !

  11. DrinkinGasoline

    As much as I hate to say it….further comments will be diffused by the fact that it’s time for dinner and….well, it’s time to log off. She didn’t make that Spaget to spoil after all.

  12. DrinkinGasoline

    Sorry for the rant folks but, I’ve lived many lives through many family members through their lives as well my short lived life of 40 + years and if I take away one thing….it will be “as things were made”. My life was spent with adults, not peers. I grew to know what they lived. Appreciation, sacrifice and effort for the greater good. Buy War Bonds and serve in the USO. Because of Ration Stamps…I shouldn’t be DrinkinGasoline :)

  13. Ric Parrish

    What i noticed when I was spending more time with cars, cut the damaged sheet metal off it and it improves very fast. Jerk the damaged stuff off this car and you rapidly have way more than a parts car.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      And what did it cost you to replace that cut out sheet metal?? You failed to disclose that :)

  14. DrinkinGasoline

    The frame of a vehicle is the skeleton, the body is the skin, and the mechanical’s are the organs. I live, eat,sleep, and breathe…..vehicles. Since childhood.

  15. roundhouse

    A few years ago a front fender for a 57 was typically going for $5000+. This isn’t your average restoration.

  16. AMCFAN

    The selling price was $7500. What this represents is a good buy for someone WITH an above average skills or one with a cheap labor force. It is NOT out of the question in some areas of the country to get skilled labor for $7.50- $10.00 per hour. How about the Coal industry in W.Va? The Tobacco ind. in Ky.? Lots of people doing without that are very mechanically skilled and will do what ever just to eat. Many times it doesn’t take money as much as it does man power to do the actual work. To also have the ability to not just pick up any catalog but to be able to source the right parts compare prices without breaking the bank.

    Restored baby Birds start out at $24K and go upward quickly in price. So again not a bad price in comparison.

    Wouldn’t make much sense to me for someone to buy this as a parts car. That would mean their car was much worse so lets all beat up on HIS car.

    To buy it for vin tags? Again no sense in that unless you had a much nicer car but then why would you need a vin tag for a nicer car? Works on Mustang’s but this isn’t a Mustang. Perhaps covering up a stolen car? Maybe.

    Hopefully the buyer is happy with his purchase and the car makes it back on the road and saved the disgrace of being a parts car.

  17. JBones

    For the sale price you could make a nice profit just in parts. Restoring it? Forget it!

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