Wayne Cook
September 1, 1998

Back when we were toddlers, and maybe a little before, this car took the country by storm. The Thunderbird's sporty elegance was the epitome of style in bygone days, and those timeless qualities remain.

The '57 Ford Thunderbird still is one of the most sought-after American cars, and from these photos it's easy to see why. The rakish two-seat styling, aggressive looking hoodscoop, and trademark portholes on the removable hardtop remain symbols of American youth in the '50s. In American Graffiti, Suzanne Sommers winks at Richard Dreyfuss through the porthole on her '56 'Bird. It was no accident that the Thunderbird was chosen to represent the ride to heaven in the landmark film about American youth during that period. The message of the Thunderbird was universally understood, and that message still rings loud and clear.

It would be difficult to find a more fitting example of T-Bird excellence than Louis Wavra's coral sand-colored car. The unusual color lends a subdued air to the otherwise aggressive and sporty 'Bird. Clearly, this is a grownup's sports car.

It's hard to embellish perfection, and Louis' car is stock as a rock. She's a beautiful Thunderbird without the bells and whistles sometimes found on others of the breed. The car's clean lines speak for themselves, and its streamlined aspect is enhanced by factory fender skirts and bumper exit exhaust. We call this factory trick.

There are no disappointments underhood, with the super sanitary 'Y' block engine displacing 312 cubes. The mill is connected to the state-of-the-art (for its time) Ford-O-Matic transmission, with power going aft to a 3.10:1 differential. Have you ever wondered what an early T-bird was supposed to look like underhood? Study these photos carefully. The whole car is perfectly restored.

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Just one look at the 140mph speedo tells you this “Y” will get up and fly, and we think this instrument panel is one of the prettiest ever created. The engine turned aluminum has a look you’ll never find duplicated in a new car. As for the rest of the interior, “immaculate” is the first word that comes to mind. It’s hard to beat pure white for subdued elegance. Looking at this package and the removable hardtop, it becomes obvious that this car represents the ultimate in class and style for ’57 and that this has transcended the years. Indeed, the T-bird’s styling compares well to most two-seaters today.

We were saddened to learn that Louis passed away some time ago. We know that this car was Louis’ pride and joy when we photographed it in the late ’80s, and for good reason. Louis was a member of several clubs in Oregon, including the Willamette Historical Automobile Club of Salem. We have no doubt that this pristine T-Bird was near the top of the winners’ list at show time.