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Featured Car


1957 Ford Thunderbird
by Larry D'Argis

For Chuck Lee, his 1957 example started out as an original Winnipeg car that had left the nest for Thunder Bay. In 1985 a neighbour showed Lee an ad in the Winnipeg Free Press for a '57 T-Bird and after he hung up the phone Lee was headed for Thunder Bay with a one-way airline ticket, a wad of cash and a set of license plates.


It was a cold February, but the lights and heater worked great and he rolled back into Winnipeg a day later. Originally a white car, it had been restored in the '70s and given a purple paint job, the wrong steering wheel and a Ford top-loader four-speed transmission, but Lee knew he could bring it back to its original condition.


After a year of collecting the parts, Lee started the restoration by stripping the car to bare metal and adding some new body panels, doors and inner fenders. Then it was up to Russ at Excell Autobody do the final paint preparation and bathe the Bird in a new coat of Colonial White paint. For the inside, a new factory correct Colonial white interior was purchased from Bob's T-Birds in Florida and installed in the passenger compartment along with the correct steering wheel. The original Town & Country signal-seeking radio was carefully put into storage and a new AM/FM cassette stereo unit was installed in its place.


Chuck's brother David Lee fully rebuilt the original Y-Block V8 engine and a three-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, to replace the 4-speed, while Chuck rebuilt the rest of the car's steering, suspension, and brakes, then installed Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels and whitewall tires.
The '57 is nicely equipped with both the white soft-top and white porthole hardtop along with the Thunderbird Special, 312 cubic inch Y-Block V8. Introduced in 1954, The Y-Block V8 was Ford's first over-head valve V8. A replacement for the legendary flathead 8, the Y-block would carry the Ford performance banner until the end of '57 until the introduction of the FE engine series. In '57 the Thunderbird Special V8 was available as an option in all of Ford's line-up. Fitted with 9.7:1 compression pistons, solid lifter camshaft, Holley four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust it cranked out 245 horsepower at 4,600 rpm. Other optional equipment found in Lee's Thunderbird includes Master-Guide power steering, Swift-Sure power brakes, Power-Lift windows, air conditioning, clock, rear deck antenna, fender skirts, tinted glass, Back-up lamps and engine dress-up kit. Lee rolled his '57 T-Bird out in 1989 and has enjoyed driving it each and every summer.