Sitting 30 Years: 1957 Thunderbird Garage Find

This is an “as found” picture of this 1957 Ford Thunderbird, which was recently purchased from its original owner in Southern California. The car is now located in Los Angeles and is listed for sale here on craigslist. The price, or at least the asking price, is $30,000.

Here’s another photo of the car as found. I wonder if that’s the original owner doing paperwork on the trunk of the car? You can see that all important black plate on the back bumper as well.

As best as I can tell from the advertisement, this is the car after being cleaned up. Sure is different, isn’t it? The paint still looks a little dull in places, but certainly not bad. I wonder if it is original? Despite their appearance, as you might expect the tires need to be replaced after so much time in storage.

We are also shown this picture, which I can only presume is the car during the process of replacing the brakes and brake cylinders, which the seller has told us they have completed.

The interior has some obvious issues, beginning with the seat cover. Of course, one of the advantages of owning a popular collector car like a two seat Thunderbird is the availability of quality reproduction parts. For example, even a leather seat reupholstery kit is available here for less than $1,000, and vinyl ones are far less expensive than that.

It sure does look nice here! One thing that does concern me a little is that we are given no information about the current running condition of the car. Obviously I wouldn’t want to drive it much given the old tires, but it would be nice to know something about the engine, transmission and suspension condition, as well as how many original miles are showing on the car. I’m surprised that kind of information isn’t included–but perhaps the seller is a Barn Finds reader and will chime in with the answers! I hope so, because this is a very interesting car!



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  1. Glen

    I’m not sure those are old tires, the white- wall looks wider in the “after” pics. They may have put new tires on.

    • Don Hamilton

      You are correct Glen! The first picture shows flat narrow whitewall tires and the after photos have wide whites!

    • Jeff

      I agree with Glen. If you look at the “as found” picture, you can see that there are narrow white walls on the vehicle. I think those wide whites are brand new.

      • B.B

        I will agree about the tires but if you look closely there’s no skirt on the car

  2. Bingo

    Susanne Summers would look great sitting in the drivers seat.

    • al8apex

      hers was a 56

    • Loco Mikado

      I don’t know about today, she probably had more bondo than the car has.

  3. bill

    I am thinking I see pictures of 2 different cars here.

  4. erikj

    I need glasses, good note on the tires. Bill, What makes you see two different cars?
    I think this is a rare find, and very neat. That don’t happen much anymore.

    • CJay

      I thought two different also, at first.
      Note that the plate number looks to be the same.
      The colors look different (due to lighting or a change in photo equipment?) Without the fenders skirts, changes the looks dramatically.
      The wide whites on it now (look good on it) might be a used set that hold air, but so old they are not safe.

  5. Jason

    Screw that flipper. If he can’t be bothered to rotate the photos, I can’t be bothered to bother.

  6. redwagon

    so the flipper wants 30k for something and they dont even know how to take good pictures? dont know how to post solid information about the vehicle?

    i would really have to want an old t’bird to make this call.

  7. Rustytech Member

    Nice car, if it’s all original this would be a wonderful find. I think it could be worth the $30k in running, driving condition, but I’d certainly want to know more before plopping down any cash.

  8. 8banger Dave Member

    Yea, when you are in the throes of good car-porn, having to flip your i-pad makes it not so interesting…

  9. Flmikey

    …my favorite year….but you can buy a running and driving one for not much more….

  10. ccrvtt

    One of my top two cars of all time – a Starmist blue ’57. I remember seeing one for the first time when I was 8 or 9 and the image has never left me. After winning the lottery my first call would be to Amos Minter.

  11. Tim Denham

    why does this car have fender skirts in the first picture but they’re not on it and any other pictures I would think if it had fender skirts those would be left on regardless of shape which they look pretty good in the picture I’m thinking two cars also.

    • al8apex

      maybe because the seller thinks it looks better without them, I know I do …

  12. Rodney

    I believe Lynyrd Skynyrd said it best in “Free Bird”.
    “And this bird you cannot change
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    and the bird you cannot change
    and this bird you cannot change
    Lord knows, I can’t change
    Won’t you fly high Free Bird yeah…”

    • Howard A Member

      One of my favorite songs!!! It was good for almost 15 minutes going down the road, although, I’m not quite sure what the reference is to this car.

      • Rodney

        Ok. Perhaps a bit of a stretch. Meaning “Don’t change the Bird”. (over restore, etc.) Clean it up, drive and enjoy it. A swing and a miss on this one……

  13. JP

    Nothing says ‘flipper’ like taking a picture while someone is still buffing it.

  14. Richard Rasmussen

    I have a Barn find 57 bird sat for 31 years. Now up and running rust free yellow BIRD. In Saskatoon Saskatchewan

  15. GaryC GaryC

    IMHO, when I post a car on Craigslist and am trying to get what a car is worth.
    I ask a little more than I will take, I use the maximum number of free photos allowed, I take quality photos of every portion of the car, I list the mileage and do my best to not give a potential buyer any reason to have any doubt about what he is buying.
    The narrow whitewalls that where on it were junk and it is obvious that they have been changed but his description says they need replaced. Also, most cars that have sat this long and require brake work will need more then shoes and wheel cylinders. The master cylinder usually needs rebuilt or replaced and the rubber brake lines are a must regardless of what they look like.
    There is no mention of miles, there is no mention that it runs but the biggest issue is what engine and induction system does it have.
    The 1957’s had 4 different engine configurations, a 292 2bbl, a 312 4bbl, a 312 2x4bbl, and the 312 s/c. Just the average value difference between the 292 2bbl to the 312 s/c is over $75,00.00. ( according to Hagerty’s valuation tool based on a number 3 good condition car.)
    Don’t get me wrong, even with the 292 2bbl. this car is well worth the money if…….it runs or can be made to run (safely) with out too much work.
    What I see here is someone bought it cheap, put just enough money into it so he can roll in in and out and fixed the brakes so he wouldn’t hit the wall pushing it in. Then paid a detailer to wash it and buff it.
    If the engine is all there and spins over , this car is a bargain and who ever ends up with it will be able to enjoy it for a long time and if he ever parted with it he would get his money back. I would even consider buying it myself but my plate is full and I am about 2 months away from putting a 1955 and 1956 T-Bird and a 1962 T-Bird Sports Roadster on the market.
    Other than the unknowns it is a nice barn find.

    Like 1
  16. whippeteer

    The car has new wide white wall tires on it. In the garage photo it had narrow white walls.

  17. JBones

    Reminds me of this poor F bird. Sitting for 30+ years! Thank god this owner has turned down the flippers.

  18. Randy W

    I restored a 57 t bird 11 years ago. Better than new. I got $92,000 for it from a race driver in spain. 49,000 orig. miles, 3 years to restore myself. Fl. car no rust. Put in $51,000 . Rated by ford t-bird club as no.# 1 Car. Paid off, only can’t drive or lose the rating. Also wouldn’t drive it anyway because in todays traffic you would need disc brakes to be able to stop from rearending somebody or worse. If engine is not ceased and I think by cond. I see it’s probably not I say it’s a excellent buy. However I wouldn’t buy it or any car for that matter without checking it out thoroughly first.

  19. Karl-S

    “All Important black plate…” Should be a yellow plate with black letters if the car was first registered in California when new.

  20. Rustytech Member

    They took the skirts off to do the tires and brakes, lock was so seized it took hours, they had no energy left to put them back!

  21. ben

    theres a nice one here in summerfiled fl been sitting a couple of years cont kit skirts restored a few years ago I think perhaps a 56 black not bad talked to the women said she might take like 25gs just pulled a 1937 Pontiac out of the woods and 3 48 to 50 chevy trucks big job but there at the shop

  22. Grid Member

    I keep seeing these Barn Finds having been stored 30 years. It’s starting to sound as though 30 years ago was the beginning of the Ice Age, or Prohibition, or something that prompted folks to start stuffing their cars under dust in the mid-80s.Ten years ago, were Barn Finds shown that were also stored 30 years (changing the Ice Age a bit), or was it 20 years? I can say authoritatively that the same hasn’t happened to boats. Can someone give me some insight? (PS: Having had 3 Birds, IMHO it should stay in the barn)Thanks~

  23. chad


    I C your 6th sentence – the special black plate. Y is that important? Do certain plates stay with their cars after a sale? Is there something desirable here? or price lowering? another reason? I see this often as part of a listing here @ BF.

    Others can pipe in 1st as an effort saving gesture too…

    Thank you.

  24. Steven

    Someone is playing jokes here, and why cause the very top pic has flat tires and no white walls..

  25. Stephen

    Doesn’t the car being in East L.A. say something? Yep, careful!

    • Steven

      Yeah Mexican refried beans and hat band, strung together into chopped up green stuff I can’t make out what it is in East LA

  26. Rob S

    Hmmm, possibly a nice ‘bird found by an uneducated car guy that think he found a gold mine. Put a few hundred hundred dollars in a set of wide white wall tires and a quick buff job ( can’t wait to get it in the sun, so I will take one while still in the shop ) throw a bed sheet over the California cracked seats and ask 30K for a car he paid 5K for yesterday. Aaahhh. The next big American entrepreneur!
    Cool car found by a not so cool wanna get rich quick vulture. Lucky guy!! I would’ve done more to make it more appealing to a possible future collector.

  27. Steven

    How bout the hood not closing properly on both shiny pics but closing neatly on the ‘older’ pics.
    Hey i am no expert on this but it makes me wonder also.
    Greetings from the netherlands.

  28. Billy Speed

    This would be a perfect car to drop in a LS7 Corvette engine on an Art Morrison frame for a lightweight, modern-day rocket! Leave the body/paint original and you’ve got a street sleeper like no other. Not that I would sell it, but I think it would bring over $100K at Barrett-Jackson auction. Always obey speed limits and drive to arrive alive.

    • Steven

      Don’t ruin a Bird for that nonsense..

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