An "Excellence in Authenticity" Concours Winning
1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD TWO-SEATER CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. D7FH152900
Gunmetal gray with cream interior
Engine: in-line, V8, pushrod overhead valves, 312ci., 245bhp at 4500rpm; Gearbox: three-speed automatic; Suspension: front, independent with vertical coil springs, semi-elliptic leaf springs to live rear axle; Brakes: servo-assisted hydraulic drums all round; Steering: power assisted. Left hand drive.
When Ford and General Motors noticed the waves of imported sports cars sweeping into North America, their home territory, in the early 1950's, they both got to work to produce their own home-brewed competition to stem the tide. Naturally enough each corporation had a different answer. GM's was the Chevrolet Corvette, intended to meet the sporting imports grille to grille. It took a while to develop the Corvette's market. On the other hand, Ford decided that what Americans would buy in meaningful numbers was something entirely new, not a sports car, but a two-seater 'personal car'. Smaller than most Detroiters, with more nimble handling and power in abundance from a good big V8, it would use parts from other production Fords and could be serviced in any small-town service shop. It would be luxurious and there would be a great range of options. Ford got it exactly right and their reward was an entirely satisfactory 16,000 Thunderbird sales in that first 1955 season.
The new Thunderbird was an unequalled success and by its third season had garnered a reputation which stunned even the high aspirations of the Ford company. America was literally in love with the little Thunderbird. Its provocative styling and sporty nature was naturally chronicled in newspapers and magazines, magnified in the movies and immortalized in song.
This stunning 1957 Thunderbird was manufactured by Ford Motor Company in late November 1956, making it a very early 1957 car. The color code N is the Gunmetal gray for which there were very few cars made. Ford later lightened the color for the majority of the production. It is a full power car, except seats, and features an automatic transmission, fender skirts, Town and Country radio, Series 32 battery and dress-up kit for the engine compartment. The original delivery note to the dealership accompanies the car and shows the delivery price of $3,103.45.
The current fastidious owner purchased this vehicle unrestored in 1993 and entrusted the restoration to the late Charles Dorgan, who was a featured restorer at the 1964 New York World Fair with George Barris. Some 3000 hours of labor went into this body-off restoration. It features New Original Stock and original used parts including headlights, shock absorbers, suspension, trim, windshield, engine components and trunk area. No expense was spared in the location and purchase of any of these rare components. All clips, wires and hardware are correct in physical appearance and finish. The car also features 300 bolt and hardware kits which were meticulously manufactured in stainless steel to exact Ford specifications for excessive durability and longevity.
Upon the completion of the restoration this car has consistently been a top award winner. Taken in an enclosed trailer and never driven except on and off the judging field, it has been to National CTCI (Classic Thunderbird Club International) shows in Chicago, Cleveland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. It is rated as a Senior Original Concours d'Elegance car by CTCI and has additionally won Gold Medallions as well as the highest honor bestowed on a Thunderbird, Excellence in Authenticity. This crowning achievement was attained at Cleveland in October 1999 where the car was awarded 295 points out of 300, losing no points for originality. In addition the car has won two Best of Show awards at other regional shows that featured over 200 cars of every make.
It is hard to comprehend the levels and standards of judging adhered to at these events unless one has taken part. For example it was discovered that this car at one stage was missing the white pads that fitted between the leaf springs; these were in fact to prevent squeaking. On another occasion the car lost points for having the incorrect date code on a bolt on the brake servo. Competition to win is severe and judges naturally can only have one winner. Remarkably this car lost a mark for having some tiny air bubbles (ie. not being totally smooth) underneath the jack instruction sticker affixed to the underside of the trunk lid! On another occasion, a point was deducted for dust on the radio knob. Each time the car was judged the owner would make further upgrades to improve both its current appearance and its authenticity.
On a recent inspection, the engine ran beautifully and the writer took no notes upon physical condition other than to write the word excellent. With less than 5 miles driven since the restoration was completed, this stunning concours winning Thunderbird should be closely inspected by any prospective buyer or indeed any car enthusiast who is or strives to be a perfectionist!