Nineteen fifty-seven could be considered the year of the Chevy. After all, that was the year the iconic vehicle (perhaps the quintessential 1950s American car) was available with fuel injection for the small-block 283. In the shadow of the Bowtie is Ford‘s F-code — the top-of-the-line V8 displacing 312 ci (5.1 liters) available across the 1957 Ford range. The eight-banger outshone Chevrolet in horsepower, and vehicles lucky enough to have been equipped with the engine continue to bring in eyebrow-raising amounts at auctions today, especially when installed in a Thunderbird. One of these rare birds will be up for sale at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction on January 24th, 2015.
Equipped with a four-barrel carb and Paxton-built McCulloch centrifugal supercharger, the 312 makes 300 horsepower and was built to help Ford achieve racing success. Unfortunately, the racing ban imposed by the Automobile Manufacturers Association during the 1957 model year curtailed Ford’s efforts. As such, it is believed that only 211 1957 Ford Thunderbirds (and a handful of Ford passenger cars) were built with the F-code motor. Those cars are called “Phase II” supercharged Thunderbirds, which were preceded by 12 early-production versions bearing the “Phase I” moniker
This genuine supercharged 1957 Thunderbird was built on July 22nd, 1957 and sold new at Maroone Ford in Buffalo, New York. It received a body-off restoration in 2009, then was was freshened by expert Amos Minter in 2011, upon which it received a Silver award from the Classic Thunderbird Club International; there have been a few corrections made to the car since then. Painted Raven Black with a red interior and black top (plus the optional hardtop with porthole), this Thunderbird also includes the correct four-barrel carburetor. The motor hooks up to a Borg-Warner T85 3-speed transmission with overdrive.
The Thunderbird is also equipped with windshield washers and heater, tinted glass, and painted steel wheels with dog-dish hubcaps. Documentation includes a copy of the Ford dealer invoice and document binder. The cost of entry? Mecum estimates a cool $175,000 – $225,000.