Review: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Jan 21, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

Among classic cars, the 1957 Ford Thunderbird is considered an icon. Even people who aren’t familiar with cars will recognize this model if they see it, although they may not know what year it is from. The Thunderbird first appeared in 1955, so the 1957 model was still relatively close to the beginning of this vehicle’s history and was actually the last two-seater version for several decades. Despite that, it has managed to stand the test of time, becoming a favorite for classic car collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Exterior Styling


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The iconic exterior of the 1957 Thunderbird has many styling elements that were seen on other Ford models at the time, including the front fenders and quarter panels. The image of a long silhouette came from the horizontal feature line. The 1957 Thunderbird stands out from the other T-birds with its slanted tail fins along the quarter panels. The front of the car had browed headlamps, a tasteful hood scoop, and an egg crate grille. The parking lamps sat on the front bumper and the exterior was rounded, with functional air vents and the Thunderbird script.

Interior

Even after all this time, the seats of well-preserved 1957 Thunderbirds are comfortable. The model came standard with a vinyl bench seat, bucket seats weren’t an option. Whether you picked an automatic or standard transmission vehicle, the transmission shifter was on the floor. When it came out, drivers could order their Ford Thunderbird with the Dial-O-Matic seat controls, which let you put the seat into 35 different positions. The steering column was adjustable, with 2 inches of adjustment in and out total. There was a five-pod gauge package on the padded dashboard. The Thunderbird was truly ahead of its time with the unique Volumatic radio, which increased the volume when you drove faster. In other words, the 1957 Ford Thunderbird had an upscale interior, especially within its price range.

Engine


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Most 1957 T-birds had a 292-cubic-inch V8 with a Y-block and 198 horsepower. There was also an “F” Bird, which had a 312-cubic-inch V8, also with a Y-block style but 300 horsepower. The increase in power was thanks to the McCulloch supercharger. If you want a 1957 “F” Bird today, you will have to search high and low, as only around 210 were made. Although the three-speed manual transmission was standard, around 90 percent of the Thunderbirds had the Ford-O-Matic, a three-speed automatic.

Many people compared the classic 1957 Ford Thunderbird to the Corvette, but it stood alone. The T-bird was designed as a personal sports car with a smooth-riding and comfortable feel. In 1957, 21,380 units were delivered, which made it the best run of the three model years.

 

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