The 1957 Ford Thunderbird is one of the most classic shapes and is probably THE most recognizable 1950’s shape to come out of Detroit – with the exception of the 1957 Chevrolet!
The last year for the “baby birds,” the 1957 Thunderbird was the best version, by far. Here’s why I think this to be true.
One note: I am biased as I own this 1957 Thunderbird. You’re going to hear my words, mixed in with some facts and numbers, but I always think the 1957 Thunderbird to be the sexiest of the “Birds. Bar none.
While it’s true that the 1055 – 1957 Thunderbirds were introduced to compete with Chevy’s fabulous (but very basic) Corvette, the Thunderbird handily outsold the Corvette every year – and by a large margin!
- 700 – Corvette
- 16,155 – Thunderbird
- Corvette – 3,467
- Thunderbird – 15,631
- Corvette – 6,339
- Thunderbird – 21,380
So you can see it wasn’t even a contest for production. Of course that makes the Corvette a much rarer car today.
The corvette didn’t get roll up windows until 1956. Thunderbird had roll up windows right from the get-go, with power windows as an option. The 1955 Corvette was still basically the same as the 1953 version – side curtains and all. Of course the Corvette didn’t have power steering or power brakes like the Thunderbird could have (optional).
I had a few requirements when I went shopping for a 1957 Thunderbird. I wanted;
- Automatic transmission
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Soft top
- Hard top
- In drivable condition
I ended up getting all the above!
Thunderbird – Not A Sports Car
Here’s where the Thunderbird and the Corvette parted ways. Originally, the Corvette competitor was Jaguar, a true sports car. The Thunderbird, on the other hand, was conceived as a “personal” sporty car. The original thunderbirds were raced a little but they just weren’t sports cars.
The Thunderbird had the bigger optional engine with the most horsepower. The standard T-Bird engine was a 292 cubic inch “Y Block” deep skirted engine with a two barrel engine making 212 horsepower. There were three optional engines, a 312 cubic inch version with one four barrel carburetor making 245 horsepower, a 312 with dual four barrels making 245 horsepower and a supercharged 312 making 300 horsepower.
The most powerful Corvette engine for 1957 was the fuel injected 283 cubic inch small block making 283 horsepower.
With the fuel injected engine, Motor Trend was able to get a 0-60 mph of 6.4 seconds for the Corvette, lowering that to 5.7 seconds with 4.11:1 gearing. The best that the 1957 supercharged Thunderbird was recorded at was 6.2 seconds to 60 miles per hour, with a top speed in excess of 130 mph.
So, both cars were quick and fast with comparable horsepower.
But to me this all comes down to looks and I think the 1957 Thunderbird is absolutely a knockout with no exceptions. And that’s all I have to say about that (for now).