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Early T-Birds and DPC


1957Birdman
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I show my '57 T-Bird in the DPC class, because it is a driven car that I am upgrading and returning to stock as time and $$$s permit. One of the things DPC offers is the chance to make certain modifications in the interest of safety and added enjoyment driving your car. On my car I've added a mechanical brake light switch, an aftermarket radio, and modified the exhaust slightly.

The mechanical brake light switch is practical because often-times the original hydraulic switch ceases to operate correctly and the only time the brake lights operate is in a panic stop. Not a good thing in my estimation. The mechanical switch eliminates this and is hidden under the dashboard.

<O:p

I enjoy the radio, but truth be told, it is rather useless when driving in the summer time with the top down. There is just too much wind and engine noise to hear it above 50 mph. When I drive in the fall with the hardtop in place it is quite easy to hear and that is when I enjoy it most.

<O:p

One other thing I’ve done with my car is to put exhaust turn downs just before the rear bumper so that the exhaust no longer exits through the rear bumpers. I was able to do it in such a way that it is not noticeable from the side of the car or the back and it makes a big difference keeping the rear bumper clean. I got the idea from Prestige Thunderbird, which does this on many of the cars that the restore and service.

<O:p

What kinds of mods have you made on your car that have improved the drive-ability and yet are still in keeping with the intent of DPC? I’m sure the readers of the forum would like to know. <O:p

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I didn't do it, but the '56 Tbird that I now own has a few "driveability" add-ons.

Air conditioning, a real plus.

A manual cut-off valve for the heater water (to shut it off during summer driving)

Overflow tank on radiator.

One of those silly small tires as a spare in trunk (so you don't have to undo the cont. kit)

Air shocks on the rear.

Nothing that couldn't be removed back to stock. The car is available if someone is interested.

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  • 2 months later...

The most unusual add on I have ever seen on a 56 bird was a pair of matching headrest...matching in the sence that they were the same color as the vinyl seats...only a solid color. The car was for sale on Ebay a couple of years ago...

If money was no object i would love to have rack & pinion steering on my 56.:)....John in CT

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John,

The only problem with putting in rack-and-pinion steering is that it would knock you out from showing you car in the DPC category. If you read the rules for DPC, it does allow modifications for enhanced driveability, but only bolt on changes. For example, adding disk brakes and a dual reservoir master cylinder are fine since they are bolt on. All rack-and-pinion conversions I am aware of require cutting the frame, which is a no-no in my opinion. Have you tried using radial tires on your car? I changed to radials a couple of years ago and it has made a big difference in how the car handles and steers.

The steering system on the original T-Birds is really quite good, with its ball-joint suspension. The Corvette used king-pins up until the early sixties. If your car does not steer well it is probably related to worn suspension components, such as bushings, that are bad and need to be replaced. Of course it won't handle like a new car, but since it isn't a new car that is to be expected.

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Lew....even tho I never show my car I feel I am only a care taker for this classic, it will be here long after I am gone. So....no cutting of anything for me....My preference is for any classic or antique to be safe,comfortable and original as when I found it......bolt on items are good... John in CT

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