Rotisserie restoration, 2 tops, power windows, seat, steering, brakes, amazing
- Condition: Used
- Make: Ford
- Model: Thunderbird
- Type: Convertible
- Year: 1957
- Mileage: 68,945
- VIN: D7FH333857
- Color: Red
- Number of cylinders: 8
- Fuel: Gasoline
- Transmission: Automatic
- Interior color: Red
- Vehicle Title: Clear Want to buy? Contact seller!
1957 Ford Thunderbird
The Ford Thunderbird is an icon. I know that term gets used a lot, but how else do you describe a car that was a must-have for two generations of auto enthusiasts, one of the earliest fashion accessories, and remains an A-list collectable today? Two-seat Thunderbirds are among the most widely recognized cars on the road, popular with men, women, and children, and there’s no sign of that enthusiasm waning today. If you want an ideal blend of style, performance, reliability, and fun, few cars can measure up to Ford’s early ‘Bird.
This 1957 Thunderbird is one of the best we’ve ever seen. If you glance through our SOLD inventory, you’ll see more than a few 2-seater Thunderbirds, but not many measure up to the incredible standards set by this gorgeous Flame Red ’57. It was owned for decades by a passionate Thunderbird collector, whose collection encompassed more than just this car, and since its restoration in the mid-1990s, it remained a cherished centerpiece of that collection. It is heirloom quality and since it was seldom driven, it remains in fantastic condition with very few signs of age and wear to be found anywhere. The cowl tag says this one was originally Raven Black, but during the frame-off restoration, it was stripped to a bare tub and refinished from the metal surface on up, and as a result, there’s just no trace of the original black paint anywhere. Flame Red was a correct ’57 Thunderbird color and having seen this car, we have to admit that it’s just stunning in person. It’s exactly right, a vivid, strong red without any orange in it, so it simply glows in the sunlight. The bodywork underneath is exemplary, and since the car hails from California, obviously rust was a non-issue, even in the troublesome areas around the rear wheel arches. The finish has a deep, brilliant shine and aside from the doors being a little out at the bottom (a malady that affects nearly 100% of all 2-seat Thunderbirds), panel gaps are exact. This was a very expensive restoration and it shows.
On any ‘50s car, the chrome is critical, and it appears that every single piece of jewelry on this ‘Bird has been restored or replaced and it’s all better than new in almost every way. The bumpers glitter, the emblems are razor sharp, and the egg crate grille is beautifully done. You’ll note a dealer-installed radio antenna on the rear deck, an addition that makes a big difference in the car’s overall look, as well as a period continental kit, which wasn’t standard equipment in 1957 but certainly looks as if it could have been. We know continental kits on later cars aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but please take your time while looking at this car—now that we’ve been living with it for a while, we have to say that we really like the overall look. It certainly defines the 1950s and gives this particular T-Bird a unique look that’ll really stand out.
The interior was originally black and white, and that probably would have been OK with the red bodywork, but we recently met a gentleman who owns a Flame Red Thunderbird with a black and white interior and his remark was simply, “I wish I’d gone with red.” Now maybe it’s red overload but you can’t argue that this isn’t a great-looking place to spend some time. It’s beautifully finished and quite correct, from the black and red carpet to the refinished steering wheel to the ornate door panels. Matching floor mats were created to protect the new carpets and you can see signs of careful workmanship in details like the bindings around the shifter opening and the curtain behind the seat. It’s worth noting that this car is equipped with just about every option, including power windows and power seat, Town & Country AM radio (not currently operational, sadly), as well as power steering and brakes. The gauges are probably original, but they’re still quite nice and show you that this car has certainly led an easy life in a comfortable climate, because the gauge faces are bright and the lenses are clear, and they all work properly. With Thunderbirds, you could have either a hard top or a soft top at no charge, but getting both was extra cost. Obviously the original owner wasn’t afraid to spend big to get all the upgrades, and this car currently carries both a tan canvas convertible top that folds easily and looks great, plus a matching red porthole hardtop. Now some of you might like a white hardtop, but I’ll ask you to look carefully at this car with the hardtop installed—it is arguably at its most attractive with the top in place. The trunk is correctly finished with a full mat set, a restored jack assembly, and a full-sized spare tire (the continental kit holds another spare, but it’s so tough to remove, having one in the trunk is a better idea).
A vast majority of 1957 Thunderbirds received the 312 cubic inch “D-code” V8, which is how this one is equipped as well. With a 4-barrel carburetor and a rather robust 245 horsepower, it’s hardly a slouch in the performance department and I’d wager that a few Corvette drivers were caught napping by guys in their smart-running ‘Birds. It is fully rebuilt to stock specs and runs superbly—turn the key and it starts on the first try, settling into a smooth idle that is so quiet that you have to check the tach to be sure it’s still running. The engine was obviously detailed for show when it was first finished, but today shows a few very minor signs of use that could probably be erased with an afternoon of detailing. It wears the dealer-installed dress up kit that includes the gorgeous finned valve covers and chrome air cleaner lid, as well as correct Ford Red engine enamel on the block itself. All the little parts are quite correct, ranging from the hoses and clamps to the wiring harness to the generator making electricity. Power brakes and steering make this Thunderbird effortless to drive, and yes, as a ‘50s Ford, you should probably expect a bit of leakage from the power steering system—they tend to do that. It’s not a big deal, so don’t be alarmed.
The engine is backed by a Ford-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission and a set of 3.10 gears in the 9-inch rear end, making this a fantastic long-distance cruiser. You want to go to the Thunderbird national meet? Drive this car and be a celebrity everywhere you go! In typical Ford fashion, it only starts in neutral (a safety feature perhaps?) and unless you physically put it in LOW range, it will move out in 2nd gear, so you’ll only feel one shift. As you can see in the photos, the chassis is marvelously well detailed, with spotless body-colored floors and a satin black chassis that looks highly correct. There’s evidence of its California life everywhere you look, from the solid body mounts to the crisp seams between panels, so you can buy without worrying about the dreaded tin worm. The exhaust system has brand new mufflers that sound hushed but muscular and there’s a new gas tank hanging out back so it’s friendly with today’s fuels. Sparkling Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels are perhaps the ultimate Thunderbird option and really make this car stand out, especially when wrapped in correct 7.50-14 Firestone wide whites.
Quite honestly, Thunderbirds don’t get much better than this. You can pick nits, but if you want one that you can show or drive, one that does both very well, you can’t miss with this lovely ’57. So many of these cars are indifferently restored or neglected that finding a fully sorted one isn’t always easy. Add in the fact that the Thunderbird market seems to be showing signs of life and values are going up means that buying the best will pay you back in the future, both with increased value and fewer headaches. We’re very taken by this Thunderbird and we know you’ll love it, too. Call now!