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1957 Ford Thunderbird And Country Sedan Wagon - Alphabet Soup
In The World Of Vintage Fords, Certain Letters Tell The Tale
One of the great things about vintage Ford muscle is the ease with which the cars are identified. Are you wondering if that '68 fastback is a desirable 390-powered machine or a top-of-the-heap 428 Cobra Jet? Just check the fifth digit in the VIN where the given letter tells the tale. Sure, it's possible to counterfeit even the rarest of Ford musclecars, but the VIN identifier makes it far more difficult, if not an out-and-out crime. The GM camp should be so lucky. You'll need proper paperwork or a leap of faith to believe that '70 Chevelle is really the LS6 it claims to be.
Mid-'50s Fords share the same ease of identification as their '60s counterparts, just in a different location. Still a part of the VIN, the engine identifier isn't the fifth digit but the first, and a quick look in that spot on our two feature cars reveals almost everything you need to know about them.
The gorgeous '57 Thunderbird of Cathy Stubbs has an E as the first digit in the VIN, indicating an original dual four-barrel-powered 312 V-8. Even better is the F at the beginning of husband Frank's '57 Country Sedan, indicating the tour de force of '57 Ford powerplants: the supercharged 312. That's right, this is a factory-blown four-door station wagon, one of a handful ever built, and the only one Frank knows of in existence.
If Frank was only a casual observer of the hobby, we might be skeptical of the claimed rarity of said wagon, but to say he's into supercharged '57s is an understatement. Currently, the Stubbs stable includes the Country Sedan, an F-code Custom 300, an F-code Skyliner, three F-code '57 T-birds, and an ultra-rare Phase 1 supercharged '57 T-bird.
As a '55-'57 Thunderbird restorer by profession, Frank has had a hand in the restoration of several other factory blown machines and is clearly an expert in the field. That said, he'll readily admit that another supercharged wagon could surface at a later date, but for now, it appears Frank has sole bragging rights.
The Stubbs purchased their Country Sedan in 2001 from the widow of former owner Jerry Torczyner, who had owned it since 1969. The sale included a smattering of supporting documents along with an account of the wagon's history from Jerry himself.
Jerry had drag raced factory supercharged '57s since the mid-'60s, and during that time, he was told of the wagon on a couple of occasions. Scarcely believing such an animal could exist, he was finally led to the car which was sitting in the corner of a used car lot, sans blower but possessing the all-important F-code serial number.
After a deal was struck, Jerry tracked down the original owner and learned it was special-ordered from Atascadero Ford in December 1956. It seems the fellow frequently pulled a trailer over Sonora Pass (elevation 9,628 feet) in the Sierra Nevadas, where the 300hp wagon could reportedly climb the grade at 80 mph with a full load in tow. The second owner apparently removed the blower equipment, but Jerry contacted him as well and recovered the coveted McCulloch assembly.
Jerry also relates organized drag racing with the wagon, where it was competitive in I-Stock and apparently won the class at the '69 NHRA Winternationals. M&F attempted to confirm the winternats story, but was unable to access the appropriate records.) Frank purchased the car as-seen, perhaps less pristine than some of the cars in his collection but plenty presentable nonetheless.
If the supercharged County Sedan has a few issues that keep it from the top of its game, Cathy's T-bird more than makes up for it. This is a frame-off effort that left no stone unturned, and yes, '55-'57 T-birds do have body-on-frame construction.