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Keaton Mulvaney

1957 Thunderbird

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Going to look at a 1957 Thunderbird. Not a big Ford fan but my wife really wants a first generation Thunderbird and, I agree, they are really cool. Problem is, this one has a manual transmission. She wants it to be automatic. I have no problem doing the work but wanted some experienced commentary. I even have access to a transmission...maybe. Is this undertaking really expensive or is it a realistic endeavor? I want to keep the car original or original appearing. Thanks!

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If your going to change to an automatic, you should consider to going to an later auto, say a C-4 from a later Ford.  You will need an adapter (Flat-O-Matic makes a nice one) but it's pretty much a bolt in but there will be some fabrication that has to be done.  Because you are starting with a manual car, you will have to acquire the automatic linkage for the accelerator and trans.  You can use the stock TBird auto shifter.  I put a C4 in my 56.  If you want to go with a original 57 trans, they are pretty cheap because there is not a decent market for them.

 

If you want an overdrive, then go with a AOD. 

 

There seems to be a lot of 57's  out there for sale and you might consider looking at  automatic ones before going to the work of a change over.

Edited by paul2748 (see edit history)

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I would look for another car. Manuals were rare accounting for a small  percent of T Birds in 57. A lot of guys like myself prefer the stick and better yet overdrive. With all the T  birds for sale their are plenty with an automatic.

 

Good Luck,

 

Tom  Muth

Cincinnati, Ohio 

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Early T-birds are pretty much a commodity buy, similar to Model A's and Mustangs.  There are so many of them, you can pretty much start with what you want then find it.

 

Decide what you want, transmission, color, and so forth, then go looking for it.  Chances are you'll find one for sale very quickly, as there are LOTS of early birds that become available.  Also, there's no need buying anything that needs restoration, as you'll very quickly exceed end value of the car.  Good early 'birds are going for $20K-30K all day long, anything over 30K better be an exceptional car......

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On 3/1/2017 at 9:54 PM, Keaton Mulvaney said:

Going to look at a 1957 Thunderbird. Not a big Ford fan but my wife really wants a first generation Thunderbird

 

I agree with everything Dave Coco said.  Also, there is a reason a comparable condition XK140 or Corvette will bring 3x the money.  Have always thought of them as aimed more towards the female market than the other two.   But, I will say that a manual transmission F bird would be very appealing, but I assume very expensive.

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This one is on craigslist in Nashville. The listed price is $35K but after contacting the owner the price dropped to $30. I really have not seen any this nice for this price. One other issue is, it is for my wife. She wants a 56 or 57 in any color but red or black. I am going to look at the car this weekend and see if it really is as good as it is represented. It does not have a soft top and no power anything. The owner bought it from at a celebrity auction fund raiser. He has owned it for six years and has not driven it but about ten times. I do absolutely all mechanical/electrical work to my vehicles within reason. I do have considerable experience replacing transmissions. My "67 Camaro SS has gone through a couple turbo 350s. I cannot seem to hurt the turbo 400 now in place. Thanks for all the advice and advice to come.

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