Eric English
August 13, 2007

Of course, while Frank did the restoration, Cathy pretty well dictated the direction. To the casual observer, the T-bird may appear to be a fully-stock restoration, but an assortment of worthy upgrades leaves it just short of what we might typically consider a mild restomod. For starters, Cathy chose to change the original hue to one of her favorites from the original '57 color palate: Seaspray Green. Deftly sprayed by Frank in Deltron acrylic urethane, it's a perfect fit for this classic roadster. Gas-charged shocks team with aftermarket front and rear sway bars to handle the curves, while four-piston front discs with a dual-reservoir master cylinder replace the original drums, for obvious reasons.

The 56-spoke Roadster wheels look absolutely awesome, although, as Cathy explained, such a wheel wasn't available on the '55-'57 T-bird series. However, if these liplace beauties look vaguely familiar, it's because they're patterned after the rare Kelsey Hayes wheels that were optional on early-'60s Thunderbirds, but the ones seen here are specifically designed with the correct offset and width for the '57s.

Under the hood is a largely-stock dual-quad 312. Such E-code T-birds aren't nearly as rare as their 196 F-code siblings but still account for just 7 percent of Thunderbird's 21,000-plus production total in 1957. Most factory ratings indicate 270 hp for the dual-quad mill, although mention of a 285hp version appears from time to time as well. This is in comparison to 245 horses for the four-barrel 312 and an even 300 for the supercharged F-code.

In contrast to the sparkling engine compartments of the musclecar era, chrome was virtually nonexistent on engines of the '50s, even performance powerplants. Thunderbirds at least could be optioned with the cast-aluminum valve covers seen here, but they wouldn't have been chromed as on Cathy's ride. Neither would the dual-quad-specific air cleaner lid, but a trip to the plating shop provides a sparkling cover for the twin Holley 4000 series carburetors.

Cathy is an admitted early-Thunderbird nut, having served as president of the Classic Thunderbird Club International (www.ctci.org) and apt assistant in the family's restoration business, Frank's Restorations. She and her husband have owned an assortment of '55-'57s, but this particular example suits her to a T

It's a car that's first and foremost a competent cruiser, which is all but a requirement for the Stubbs since they drive their rare and restored Fords to events as far away as Oklahoma and as near as the local burger joint. For this couple, the hobby isn't about rolling rare iron on and off a trailer; it's about driving cars as they were originally intended. They'll get no argument here.

The Details
1957 Thunderbird
Owner: Cathy Stubbs, Newcastle, WA

Engine
'57 Ford dual-quad 312 V-8
Displacement: 312 cid
Bore x Stroke: 3.80 x 3.44 inches
Compression Ratio: 9.7:1
Horsepower: 270 at 4,500 rpm
Torque: 336 at 3,400 rpm
Carburetor: Dual 4000 series Holley four-barrels

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The Details
1957 Country Sedan Wagon
Owner: Frank Stubbs, Newcastle, WA

Engine
'57 Ford supercharged 312 V-8
Displacement: 312 cid
Bore x Stroke: 3.80 x 3.44 inches
Compression Ratio: 8.5:1
Horsepower: 300
Torque: not published
Carburetor: 4000 series Holley four-barrel
Power Adder: McCulloch supercharger (6 psi)

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