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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale June 10th – 12th, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 4th Annual Newport Beach, California Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Based on a show car debuted in February 1954, Ford’s sleek two-seat Thunderbird was introduced for sale on October 22nd that year, crowning a very successful year in which Ford sold nearly 1.5 million cars to mark the second-best model year in company history. Conceived as a sporting “personal car” rather than as a sports car, the Thunderbird provided a sophisticated and well-equipped alternative to Chevrolet’s somewhat haphazard fiberglass Corvette, with its weaker six-cylinder engine and flapping side curtains.
Low-slung and of all-steel body construction, the T-Bird came well-equipped with a powerful 292 cubic-inch V-8, removable hardtop, and plenty of standard and optional features and amenities. A total of 16,155 examples were sold for 1955, as opposed to just 700 Corvettes. The 1956 Thunderbird was relatively unchanged, although the hard top gained “porthole” windows, the spare tire was changed to an external “Continental” mounting to gain trunk space, and a new 312 cubic inch ‘Thunderbird Special’ V-8 was optional. Curiously, sales dipped slightly to 15,631, likely the result of instability in the wake of the Suez Crisis.
Redesigned for 1957, the final two-seat Thunderbirds are considered by many today as the most beautiful of all. The front bumper was smoothed out and dropped down in the center, the trunk extended to accommodate the spare wheel relocated inside the car, and a pair of neat canted tail fins flowed back along the rear fenders to the large rounded taillights. Smaller-diameter 14-inch wheels lowered the car for a sportier stance and several high-performance engines were offered, up to a 285-hp racing special. Sales rose briskly to 21,380 for 1957, but it would in fact be the final model year for the two-seat Thunderbird until its basic concept was reprised for 2003.
Benefiting from a fresh, three-year ground up restoration, this 1957 Thunderbird has traveled only an approximate 500 miles driven since it was completed. The restoration work included a bare-metal repaint in Colonial White and both the hard and soft tops were restored as well. The Thunderbird’s Town and Country radio was converted to FM operation plus iPod connectivity. Riding on a restored undercarriage, the Thunderbird was fitted with a custom aluminum radiator and electric fan for cruising ease. Desirable power features address the operation of the brakes, seat, steering, and windows. Other highlights include Kelsey-Hayes wheels, BF Goodrich wide whitewall tires, new brakes, and an original-type battery and seat belts. As offered, this 1957 Thunderbird is a wonderful example from the historic final year of two-seater “Little Bird” production with the restoration work already done for you!