Stored For 20 Years: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

This 1957 Ford Thunderbird has been stored away in a warehouse for more than 20-years, but the owner has decided that the time has come for it to find its way to a new home. It appears to be a very solid car that would respond well to a cosmetic restoration, although it could potentially be returned to a roadworthy state and driven essentially untouched. It is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $14,000, although there is the option available to make an offer.

When I scoured the photos of this Colonial White classic, I was struck by the general lack of rust. We get a good look at the floors, and they look solid and clean. Checking the trunk reveals some corrosion in the spare wheel well, but I suspect that this is more heavy surface corrosion, and not penetrating rust. The panels also look clean, although there are some signs that the rocker on the driver’s side may have received some form of repair work at some point. The panels wear a few minor dings and dents, but these appear to be of a minor nature. There is no soft-top, but the factory hardtop is in good condition. The front bumper is missing, but the rest of the trim is present, and as is the case with the tinted glass, it generally appears to be in reasonable order.

Powering the Thunderbird is the 312ci Y-Block V8, backed by a 3-speed automatic transmission. The Y-Block would have produced 245hp in its prime, allowing the Ford to sprint through the ¼ mile in 16.4 seconds. That sort of figure is pretty respectable, especially when you consider that Ford was marketing the Thunderbird as more of a personal luxury car, and not as a sports car like the Corvette. The owner is pretty candid about the fact that the Thunderbird doesn’t run, and apparently it hasn’t fired a shot in anger since it was parked in the warehouse. There is no indication as to whether the engine turns freely, but it does appear that the owner might be very open to answering questions about the state of the vehicle. In fact, he actually encourages potential buyers to go and have a look at the Ford. They don’t come much more open and accommodating than that!

Opening the door and taking a look around inside the Thunderbird reveals an interior that will require plenty of restoration work. Having said that, it does have its good points. The dash itself looks to be quite reasonable, although the radio is missing. The cover on the seat looks like it might present quite nicely if it is treated to a thorough clean. Beyond that, the dash cap has deteriorated quite badly, because while the vinyl looks like it could be salvaged, the foam beneath has collapsed. It would be possible to redo the foam alone, but if a high-quality finish is the aim, then handing over around $460 for a replacement pad would seem to be money well spent. The door trims also appear to be missing, and once again, replacements can be found for around the $200 region for a pair in the right color and material. A new carpet set will add $150 to the bill, but with those items installed, the interior should be starting to present fairly nicely.

On face value, this ’57 Thunderbird would seem to represent a great prospect for restoration. I like the fact that the owner is not only quite candid about the vehicle’s condition but seems to be quite open to potential buyers inspecting the vehicle. That suggests that he has nothing to hide, which is always reassuring when the time comes to take the plunge and hand over hard-earned cash for a project car. That makes me believe that if you are on the hunt for an early Thunderbird project car, then this is one that might be well worth investigating further.


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  1. Ray

    My dad passed last month, and the 57 T-bird was his dream car. Every birthday, he’d ask if we’d gotten him one. When the answer was no, his backup request was a bass boat. This one looks prime for restoration – even though the prices for these have dropped over the last several years, there’s plenty of headroom left here.

    Like 6
  2. Bob Mck Member

    I believe you can buy more every part for this other than the soft top. This will be nice when complete, but probably cheaper to buy one already restored.

    Like 7
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      You’re right about buying almost everything for it, BobMck, except for replacing the soft top. Those ARE still out there, but no one seems to have control arms for them available anymore, and the old bushings are very labor intensive to replace-discovered after a friend of mine bought a ‘55 with a stick shift (VERY few of those still around apparently) for about the same price as this one in much nicer condition found in the California Central Valley and drove it home here in northern Nevada…with Wayne’s help (BF regular) we’re all getting to understand the personalities of the different owners it’s had through the years by the work they did!

      By the way, Ray, I take it the “There’s still Plenty of headroom left here” was strictly a figurative phrase, as I’m not 6’0 and I have to duck and twist when getting in wirh the hardtop is on!

      Like 1
      • KarlS

        @Nevadahalftrack – I’d check these guys out. They sell the whole top and all the hardware so maybe the control arms are part of that hardware?

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Thanks, KarlS-I’ll check it out!

  3. Joe Haska

    Bob, I don’t know you would have to take a close look, but I think it could be a good candidate for restoration. Of couse that depends on your definition of restoration

    Like 2
  4. ccrvtt

    Doesn’t look like the factory hardtop to me. I thought after mid ’56 that they all had the porthole for better visibility.

    Ray’s dad sounds like a man after my own heart. I love ’57s and have lusted after one for 63 years.

    Come on Hoosier Lotto!

    Like 6
  5. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I’ve liked these cars for a long time, but I’ve noticed a down draft in value lately. It would likely cost more to bring this one up to quality standard than to purchase one already in show condition. But then that’s the fun in doing one yourself, you know exactly what you’ve got when finished.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  6. Camaro guy

    This is NOT a 3 speed auto transmission it’s a 2 speed Fordomatic Ford didn’t have a 3sp auto until the C6 for the FE series engines and later the C4 for small blocks just sayin

    • tiger66

      The Fordomatic here is in fact a 3-speed that starts in second gear and shifts to 3rd (direct) when taking off in the “Dr” position. However if you start in “Lo,” the car will start in first gear, not second. And stay in first until you shift to Dr, when it will shift to third. Also if you floor it on taking off in Dr it will do a 1-2-3 upshift. The 1958 Cruiseomatic was basically the same transmission but with two “Drive” positions that enabled it to start in either first or second gear and upshift like a regular 3-speed when started in first. That transmission predates the C6.

      Like 4
  7. Kevin J Croak

    If I am not mistaken, didn’t the 57 bird have a porthole Hardtop? Mine did.

    • tiger66

      You could get the ’57 hardtop with or without the porthole.

      Like 2
  8. Kevin J Croak

    Thanks, I wasn’t sure about that.

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