Jump to content

Considering a '57 Ford Fairlane 4-door.


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

An acquaintance I know recently bought a house which has an unrestored, non-running '57 Ford Fairlane left by the previous owner (an elderly lady who could no longer manage the upkeep on either house or car). The car was last inspected (and presumably run) in 1984, and has sat in the garage since.<P>It looks restorable, though it's had the front bumper and some exter/interior trim removed (stored in the garage with the car). It doesn't look rusted (except for some minor surface rust around the headlight "eyebrows"). It's an automatic, has the original Y-block V-8 (if I read the owner's manual right, it's the small one, since it has a 2-barrel carburetor). <P>I'm toying around with the idea of buying it and storing it until I have the means to restore it myself. I'm not overly worried about the market value (it'll be several years before I'd be ready to do anything on it anyway). Since 99% of my Ford experience is with mid-1960s and newer, I have a few questions:<P>1. Did Ford offer lap belts as an option in '57? If so, would I likely find mount points under the carpet, even if the car wasn't actually equipped with seat belts? I will not drive any car without at least lap belts, and prefer to retro-fit 3-point belts if at all possible. I have successfully done so to my '67 Mustang, and believe the same retro-fit kit will work on the '57, assuming it has mount points for lap belts (the kit reuses the lap belt mount points, and requires some minor drilling to install the anchors for the retractor and shoulder harness).<P>2. What exactly is type "A" transmission fluid? I want to keep this car original, so I don't want to swap a later engine/transmission. I've heard of type "A" fluid before, and vaugely remember there's a modern petroleum product that can be used as a substitute, but don't remember. I thought it was a light weight motor oil, maybe 10 or 20 weight. Could someone shed some light?<P>Thanks,<BR>Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe,<P> There is a lot of help available here if we knew more about your car, where you're located, and data plate information. For openers: If your serial number begins with B7,it is a 272 cu. in. rated @ 190 h.p.. If the serial number begins with C7, it is a 292 cu. in. rated @ 212 H.P..<P>Seat belts were offered as an option. The Ford Parts Book shows a couple installation kits starting with '53 models. One of the kit components is a pair of floor reinforcements. Although I thought the '57 might have had a doubler spot welded to the floor, this kit component causes me to wonder. One way or the other, it's no big deal to add a doubler to distribute the loading.<P>Eyebrow rust was common on '57s. '55 & '56 Chevs were notorious for it too. That innocent looking surface rust your seeing, could very well be the result of road splash incubating between the headlight bucket and the fender. It's a common problem and patch panels are available. Since you have rust there, look for more at the rear wheel opening.<P> Type A transmission fluid is obsolete. I never realized how smoothly a Fordomatic could shift until I put Mercon in the fresh rebuilds. Under normal acceleration, the shift from second to third is nearly imperceptibe. Reminder: these guys start in second gear from a stand still unless you have your foot in it or you manually shift to Lo. You use Lo when you're pulling out tree stumps while climbing a building wall.<P> You're encouraged to register and come back with a little more info for us so we can make this a more pleasurable experience for you. <P> Good Luck, Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the information. Interesting, so it looks like Mercon will work in place of Type "A." If I get a chance to buy and restore the car, I'll make a note of that.<P>I'm in South Jersey, in a little town called Pennsville. It's directly across the river from Wilmington, Delaware (the nearest large city that I know people would recognize). The car is in Pennsville, within walking distance of my house. <P>I'm hoping to find a home for it first, since I already have four cars, and need another large restoration project like I need a hole in the head. However, since the guy doesn't seem to appreciate what he fell into, I have a feeling I'll end up buying it to save it from being junked. I have a sister with an unused garage space who owes me a favor, so I can at least store it and work on it at my leisure.<P>If anyone is interested, I can get you more information (such as the VIN#). The owner said he wants $700 for it. His E-mail address is: newtimer1@excite.com, and his name is Rodney Miller.<P>Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Here is some more info on that '57. As far as I can tell, the body does appear solid, except for minor rust out along the outer rocker panel on the driver side (the inner part appears solid, it's only the thin outer metal that's rusted). The floor appears solid, though I could feel two weak spots on the driver's and passenger's side, front seat area. <P>The VIN# is 676T151121<P>Body 58A<BR>Color FT<BR>Trim F<BR>Trans 3<BR>Axle 1<BR>Date 14F<P><BR>Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe, <P> There's something bogus about the VIN. The first and third characters should be alphas, not numerics. Unless you advise otherwise, I'll assume your VIN is C7CT151121 which translates like this:<P>C= 292 cid V8, 212 hp<BR>7= 1957 model year<BR>C= Chester assy plant<BR>T= Failane and Fairlane 550 Town Sedan & Club Sedan series<BR>151121= 51120th unit assembled at that plant<P>The rest of the info translation is pretty straight forward except for the color combination. I'd be shocked if the dealer delivered the car with the colors per data plate.<P>Body, 58A= Fairlane Town Sedan<P>Color, FT= Starmist Blue (primary color) / Woodsmoke Gray (secondary color)<P>Trim, F= Woodsmoke vinyl/ gray fabric <P>Trans, 3= Fordomatic Trans.<P>Axle, 1= 3.10:1 ratio<P>Date, 14 F= 14 June 1957 production.<P><BR> I don't know where this Chester plant is located. I think it was either N.J. or Pa.. Where ever it was, it had a relatively modest output. Dearborn Assy put out the same number of units in two months, as Chester did in nine months. I'm really curious about the color combo. I've never seen one like this. It's hard to imagine what it looks like.<P> Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

You may well be right on the VIN. With the lighting and the condition of the stamping on the VIN plate, I had a little trouble making out if it was a 6, a B, or a C.<P>The color did seema bit unusual to me, it was almost a dark blue or grey for the primary color, and what looked to me to be an off white or very light grey. I assumed the colors looked odd because of the age of the paint. The secondary color didn't really look white, but like I said, I just assumed it was from age. Now that you mentioned the color combination, it did indeed look to be more of a very light grey than white.<P>I may have found a guy to take it off the owner's hand. I just bought a 1965 Thunderbird this past weekend at Carlisle, and the seller took a look at the Fairlane after he delivered the car. The former T-bird owner restores and sells old cars as a hobby/side business. He expressed interest in saving the Fairlane, and I'm hoping it meets a better fate than becoming a parts car.<P>I'm sure I'll be back with T-bird questions. I've been a big fan of pre-1980 cars for a while, and a 1965 T-bird is now the oldest car I've owned, besting my 1967 Mustang. They definitely had more class back then, and in a lot of ways (except the rust department) are far more practical cars to own and operate compared to today's throwaways.<P><BR>Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...