Award-winning frame-off restoration. Two tops, power steering, brakes, windows, & seat. Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels, continental kit, ready to show or tour anywhere.
This 1957 Thunderbird is one of the best we’ve ever seen. 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. 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. 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.
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.” It’s beautifully finished and quite correct, from the black and red carpet to the refinished steering wheel to the ornate door panels. 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. This car carries both a tan canvas convertible top that folds easily and looks great, plus a matching red porthole hardtop. 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. 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 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. 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.
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. 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 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!
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com