This week’s Cool Old Press Photo highlights an iconic American car, the 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Introduced in 1955 the Thunderbird quickly became a hot item for Ford, both on the showroom floor and on the race tracks of America.
While Chevrolet’s Corvette was nearly still born with a tepid straight six engine, fiberglass body, and an early reputation that was not stellar, the future of the American sports car seemed to lay in front of the T-Bird. For a time it did, then Ford took the car in an altogether different direction that completely forsaked it’s taught, sporty heritage.
For 1957, buyers came out in good numbers. Ford moved nearly 22,000 of these cars, which for a “sporty” model was more than adequate. There were six factory engine options, actually seven counting the NASACAR spec engine at the top of the food chain.
The bottom feeder plant was a 223ci six cylinder and the base V8 was a 2bbl, 190hp, 272ci Y-block. It got better from there. A 212hp, 292 Y-block with a Holley four barrel was next up followed by a higher compression 312ci motor making 245hp with a single Holley. That same motor equipped with a pair of Holleys was rated at 270hp in standard tune but up to 285 with the special Ford “racing kit”. The top of the food chain was the McCulloch/Paxton blown 312 that carried a 300hp rating in factory trim but 340hp in NASCAR guise.
It’s tough to imagine how exciting it must have been to see so much cool iron rolling out from the American car companies for 1957. The big reason we like these old press photos is because they are mental time travel.
When your time machine starts working, we’ll be easy to find. Just look for the guy with his face pressed to the glass at the Ford showroom.