“Some Rust”: 1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

The owner of this 1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible candidly admits that it is a vehicle with some rust, although he does hasten to add that this is not severe. It has spent the past 15-years stored away in a barn, but it is now ready to head to a new home. For the person who would love nothing more than to restore a true 1950s classic, you will find the T-bird located in Shullsburg, Wisconsin, and listed for sale here on eBay. With bidding now sitting at $4,150, the reserve hasn’t been met. I do have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Ikey H for referring the Thunderbird through to us.

It would seem as though the Thunderbird has led a fairly colorful life. Its panels currently wears a combination of primer and surface corrosion, but there is plenty of evidence that suggests that it has been painted yellow at some point. Even that isn’t original, because the tags indicate that it started life finished in Raven Black. The photos really aren’t the greatest, but apart from the substantial amount of surface corrosion that coats the car, the owner does admit that there is some rust-through on some of the rear panels. We receive no information on the state of the floors or the frame, but the rockers, bottoms of the doors, and the bottoms of the front fenders all look to be quite clean. There are some external trim items that have been removed, but the owner does assure us that all of these items are present and intact. I think that the reality with the Thunderbird is that whoever happens to be brave enough to take it on will need to be prepared to undertake a full, nut-and-bolt restoration. Anything less would almost certainly be a waste of time and money.

The interior trim that was fitted to the Ford when new was a combination of Black and White. The white part of the equation is now a distant memory, with the interior now featuring all-black upholstery. The cover on the seat looks good on initial inspection, but there is a tear visible on the driver’s side. This really means that all of the upholstered surfaces such as the seat, door trims and dash pad will require complete restoration, or as is the case with the carpet, total replacement. The dash itself appears to be complete and is in quite good condition.

This particular Thunderbird rolled off the production line quite nicely equipped. Under the hood is the 245hp version of the 312ci V8, while the vehicle also features a 3-speed automatic transmission, along with power steering. This is one of those cars that is described as “ran when parked.” That means that you won’t be surprised to learn that it doesn’t run now. What isn’t clear is whether the engine even turns freely. It is a near certainty that there will be some work required before this T-bird eventually hits the road once again. Still, if the next owner intends to undertake a full restoration of the vehicle, then this would be the perfect time to tackle all of these potential issues.

The photos of this 1957 Thunderbird Convertible do offer potential bidders one piece of promising information. If you look at the dust that coats the car when it is parked in the barn, it appears to be a very dry type of dust. This would suggest that there hasn’t been a lot of moisture or humidity present, which may have helped it avoid the sorts of rust that could afflict a similar vehicle that has spent years in a damp environment. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that this is going to be an easy restoration, because it simply isn’t. However, it would appear as though it could be a worthwhile project, especially if the rust issues are as limited as the owner has indicated. The real sticking point is going to revolve around the potential value of the car once restored. There is no doubt that if the T-bird was restored to Concours condition, it would be possible for it to command a value of $80,000 or more. However, it is also possible to buy some quite tidy examples today for less than $30,000. If the next owner is willing to undertake a lot of the manual work such as cleaning and reassembly themselves, it would be possible to significantly reduce the cost of restoration, and that would certainly help to improve the viability of this car. What do you think?

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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    This is going to take a whole lot more than 30K to save it. Might as well find one for the same price.

  2. Ken Carney

    Oh for the days when you could pick one
    up for $250! That was in the late ’60s
    when nobody wanted them. I recall that a teacher at my school drove a pale yellow one and boy was it sharp! I liked
    it so much that I took pictures of it for
    my 8th grade photography class. My
    teacher wasn’t too keen about it but I sure was! Say! That’s over in Mike’s
    neck of the woods. Nice to see the tin
    worm didn’t get all of them!

  3. CCFisher

    Looks like a C1 Corvette was keeping it company.

    It’s nice to know it was in a dry barn for the past 15 years, but it’s 63 years old. Where was it for the other 48 years? Those 15 years in the barn won’t help it if it spent the prior 20 years in a swamp.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Sittin’ kinda low, fellas!

      We all know owners use before and after photos to sell a car, but CCFisher you hit the nail on the head. The photo of the T Bird in the yard with the front wheel in the mud is probably where the first 20-48 years were spent. And was the addition of Mustang wheelcovers the owners idea instead of sprucing it up with a dang bath with a garden hose or pressure washer? PASS! By the way, the eBay seller also has a 79 Continental Mark V with 28 original miles…look for it!

  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    The salesmanship in this EBAY listing is laughable. The opening photo should make any semi-intelligent person run away from this turd as fast as possible. And the fact that it has been bid to over 4K is also a joke. Honestly people, get a clue.

  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Is it desirable -yes. Will it take a lot of work – yes. Will it take a lot of money – yes. Is it economically viable – don’t know. This is one of those that will take someone that wants it as an act of love, they sure won’t do it to flip it IMO.
    There are better examples out there for someone wanting a 57 that IMO will take less money to get on the road than this one will.

  6. KSwheatfarmer

    I say do the mechanicals and drive it as is,probably get more looks at a show than the trailer queen.

  7. lam E

    I’ve never seen a little bird with “some rust”.

  8. Bill

    I watched a show on MT network Fantom Works the other day and they rebuilt a 50’s model T-bird that was actually running and driving. The guy Dan Short that runs the shop said they had over 3000 hours of labor. What I thought was odd they used a 2006 Pontiac running gear on a Ford T-bird. I am unsure when this show Fantom Works was produced but I’m sure whatever that price was you could add 25% to that and that would be a good starting point

  9. Bob McK Member

    You can buy a really nice one for $30K. You can’t restore this one for $60K. Unless you HAVE to have this VIN for some reason, run the other way. The seller should jump on the current offer and be happy that someone was willing to over pay him.

  10. Paul L Windish

    I love the 55-57 Birds, but this one requires major work and $$$. One could easily get $80 K deep into restoring this example. If you are lucky, you’d be able to break even when putting it up for sale.

  11. TimM

    Did you know that the car on the bottom of the river ran when parked 30 years ago????


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