Unrestored Dirty Bird: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

In 1995, this 1957 Ford Thunderbird was parked in dry storage. It has only just emerged from hiding, and still wears the accumulated dust from all of those years. Don’t be fooled though, because it has been returned to good mechanical health, and is now looking for a new home. Located in Appling, Georgia, you will find the T-bird listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has gotten as far as $15,100, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

Finished in Thunderbird Bronze, the coating of dust is plain to see across the horizontal surfaces of the car. The White hardtop looks to be in very nice condition, while the car also has a soft-top hidden away in there. The owner claims that there is no rust in the vehicle, and there is certainly none visible. While it appears that all of the external trim and chrome is present, some of it is showing deterioration and pitting, and would benefit from restoration. The owner recently brought the car out of storage and is quite pleased with the fact that he hasn’t washed it. It would appear that he has every intention of letting the next owner experience the joy of seeing the Bronze paint emerge from under the dust for themselves.

Lifting the hood reveals what makes this T-bird special. First things first, because this is said to be a full, numbers-matching car. Even better, the original owner chose to equip the Ford with the E-Code 312ci V8, pumping out 270hp. This power is then sent to the rear wheels via a Ford-O-Matic transmission. Just because the car has been sitting for a couple of decades, don’t think for one moment that the next owner is going to be faced with the task of recommissioning the car. This has all been done, and it appears that it was done properly. The fuel tank and sender have been replaced, while the carburetors were treated to a rebuild. The brakes received a refurbish, including all new lines, while all of the fluids were changed and a full service was performed. That’s just for starters, and now that 312 runs as sweet as a nut, and the car is said to drive perfectly.

The interior is showing its age a bit, but it isn’t all bad news. It is serviceable as it currently stands, but the fact that the owner is including a complete NOS Bronze interior trim kit means that the interior will be able to be returned to as-new condition. In addition, the T-bird comes with some nice factory extras. These include ice-cold air conditioning, a power seat that works, and the Volumatic Signal Seek radio that doesn’t work. Otherwise, everything else in the car works as it should.

While Ford managed to produce 21,380 Thunderbirds during 1957, only 1,499 cars were equipped with the E-Code V8. These aren’t as rare as the supercharged versions, but that E-Code has a significant effect on the potential value of a T-bird. In fact, you can expect an E-Code car to command at least a 20% premium over a car equipped with the standard 292 V8. You can expect a pristine example to sell for prices around the $100,00 to $120,000 mark, and while this one isn’t pristine, its condition is still extremely good. Judging by the details that show in the photos, it wouldn’t be hard to take the car to the next level, and I personally think that it would be well worth the effort to do so.


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Here we go again with the accumulated dust from storage. It makes no sense. If you went to pick up a girl for a date, wouldn’t you take a shower first?

    Like 21
    • ken tillyUK Member

      Quite right Rex, after all dust is just that, dust. It’s not as if it came out of a barn covered in bat guano or bird droppings, which a seller might like to show, as he will know that it is going to be painted before it goes back on the road.

      Like 1
    • Tracy

      I agree! This stupid “as found” BS is overrated. Wash the damn car.

      Like 16
    • sourpwr Member

      Quite right! How could you do the mechanicals without wiping the dust off. I’m voting for fake dust, maybe dust from a can.

      Like 3
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    One thing I noticed, I might be wrong but I thought all 57 hardtops had the porthole in them, this one obviously doesn’t. Might be aftermarket but just doesn’t look quite right to me.
    Back in the day I looked at a 57 or two, great cars but it depends on what the reserve if on it whether it’s a good value or not.
    If this one is a solid as implied, it could be a drive and fix as you go along.

    Like 3
    • ACZ

      It’s a 55 hard top. They fit any of the two seaters. A 57 hard top had the portholes.

      Like 2
  3. Sherminator

    Dude, it’s dust. No glory, just an accumulation of dirt. Unless you’re hiding imperfections in the paint, shine that beautiful car for prospective buyers.

    Like 6
    • Will Fox

      Exactly, Sherm. How much effort would it take to gently wash the car, and maybe spit-polish the bumpers a bit? 2 hours maybe? The seller was simply too lazy to do it, and tried to justify it by saying ‘let the buyer get the ‘pleasure’ of seeing the bronze color emerge’. Anyone else would take the time to clean it up. Now he has to try to justify his reserve figure on a filthy car. Gooooood luck….

  4. Bud

    Cars are not Civil War swords or rifles . Clean them up already .

    Like 6
  5. JohnD

    You buried the lead here (a phrase back from when we had these things called newspapers . . .). The important part is not the dust, which, as observed above WILL get washed off, but that it is an E-bird. And with air, auto, etc. For all the talk about new brake lines, though, that power brake booster looks a little sketchy, and they aren’t that expensive . . .

    Like 2
  6. Barney

    Is the ac evaporator a factory item?

  7. Mike P

    hard tops with a port hole became an option halfway through 56 and all in in 57 so wrong top not a big deal, there literally was no factiry air available on t birds in 57 period not even dealerinstalled the units available would not fit period , they started in 55 in full size cars with an interior unit the required the passenger have both legs amputated to ride along and the on off clutch were two pipe plugs you enganged or disngaged as desired, dad was a ford mechanic then and I have the add on manual as we as original car manual all this said looks like a nice car

    Like 2
  8. Mike

    It’s at $100K…good luck to the new owner

    Like 1
    • Nate

      All of the dust that seems to be bugging the crap out of the comment posters above doesn’t seem to be hurting this car’s value. IMHO, this one is going way too high. I saw a beautiful white one sell at BJ 2 years ago for less than this and it had $100k in restoration receipts.

      Like 1
  9. Bill Hall

    About forty some odd years ago we had a customer who had a 57 T Bird in very nice original shape. This was an unusual car, it had a 3 speed OD trans. I heard when he finally sold it went Minnesota? ‘
    He also had a very nice Comet 2door hardtop he drove all the time. I don’t what haapened to this .

  10. Bob McK Member

    I question if that is really a bid or if the seller is playing games. This is not a 100K car with or without the dust.

    Like 3
  11. Russell Ashley

    Bids jumped from 22K to 100K. Looks kind of funny to me but could be ligit I guess. If I had been restoring it to driving condition after it’s sleep I would have put the correct style whitewalls on it, but that’s just me. I think those thin whitewalls on a fifties car look wrong. He says he was advised not to clean it as a real collector would prefer to get it like it is, but I would think if that was accurate a real collector would also have preferred to buy it like It was before he fixed things and put it back in driving condition.

    Like 1
    • JohnD

      Funny might be an understatement. Good ones done are less than that.

  12. TimM

    It is at $100,000!! I see a car that doesn’t need a total restoration but will need some work along with brakes and most of the rubber needing replacement I don’t see $100k here!!

  13. Bob McK Member

    Why would anyone raise a bid from 22 to 100. I don’t believe this for a minute. Time to move on. This guy is not selling this car. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  14. On and On On and On Member

    Maybe a typo? but not retracted. Yikes, this same bidder came in at 19k when the bid was 15.2k. Makes no sense. Too bad, nice car but now stupid to be involved with this $hit.

    Like 1
  15. bobhess bobhess Member

    Don’t know about the 100K but this is a nice car and the seller provided a pretty extensive verbal description and pictures, though underside shots would have been nice to see.

  16. David Warwick

    It’s back down to less than 18K.

    • ken tilly UK Member

      Back up to 30k now.

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