Jim Smart
July 20, 2011

Because Jerry wanted more power from his 352, he enlisted help from Don's Hot Rod Shop in Tucson, Arizona. Don's Hot Rod Shop is a good, old-fashioned speed shop with online access plus walk-in service just like us old folks remember from a bygone era. Walk in and behold an array of cool high-performance parts up and down the walls and aisles. Jerry found knowledgeable people who were able to help him with his 352 FE project. The end result has been powerful big-block smoothness along with plenty of low-end torque.

To get what he wanted from the 352, Jerry opted for FE basics in the heads and block with a stock bottom end sporting flat-top cast pistons, forged steel FE rods, and a nodular iron crank. Jerry warmed up the smooth running FE with a hot Isky hydraulic camshaft offering an acceptable idle, along with crisp out-of-the-hole torque, which is what you want from a civilized big-block V-8 on the street. Jerry ordered an Edelbrock Performer RPM dual-plane manifold and 600-cfm carburetor to round out his power package. Ignition is fired by a stock Autolite distributor and MSD Ignition wires. Those are stock Ford exhaust manifolds dressed in Eastwood's High Temp paint to keep aesthetics to tow along with cad plated bolts and lock washers.

Behind Jerry's 352 isn't a C6 like most of us would expect. Instead, it's the old tried and proven cast-iron MX Ford-O-Matic that offers unequalled smoothness and quiet like we remember from old automatics. In back, a time-proven Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.10:1 cogs. On the ground are factory original four-wheel drum brakes peeking at us through classic Cragar SS 15x8-inch five-spoke mags wrapped in reliable BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires.

Inside, you can't miss the job P&A Upholstery did on this red and white vinyl interior. We may sound biased, however, there wasn't a factory interior conceived at the time that could compete with a Thunderbird interior. Reason being, Ford had some of the best styling help on the planet in those days, including the late Damon Woods who brought us the Mustang's Pony clad Interior DÚcor Group in the '65 Mustang. As with Mustang years later, there was tremendous value for the dollar in Thunderbird.

Call this '60 Thunderbird something Jerry Martinez never expected from a place where he never imagined he'd find the car of his dreams. What's more, the opportunity to build that car. And when we asked Jerry if he'd ever consider selling his T-bird, we got an emphatic, "No! It's my son's inheritance. I'd never find another one."

The Details

Jerry Martinez' '60 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop


  • 352ci FE series v-8
  • 4.00-Inch bore
  • 3.50-Inch stroke
  • Stock iron heads
  • Isky hydraulic camshaft
  • Cast flattop pistons
  • Stock forged steel connecting rods
  • Cast-iron crankshaft
  • Edelbrock Performer RPM manifold
  • Edelbrock 600-cfm carburetor
  • Autolite ignition system
  • Cobra Le Mans cast-aluminum finned valve covers


  • Stock MX Ford-O-Matic
  • Stock torque converter


  • Ford 9-inch
  • 3.10 gears


  • Stock dual exhaust system


  • Front: Stock
  • Rear: Stock


  • Front: Stock power drum
  • Rear: Stock power drum


  • Front: Cragar SS, 15x8
  • Rear: Cragar SS, 15x8


  • Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P275/60R15
  • Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/A, P275/60R15


  • Stock red and white vinyl performed by P&A Auto Upholstery


  • New PPG Monte Carlo Red urethane paint

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