I inherited a 1957 Thunderbird from my beloved uncle. I REALLY want to
make it my daily driver (live in a small town so not many miles per
day.....MAYBE 4 miles per day). Right now I can't handle it because the
steering is too difficult as well as the braking. What kind of money should I
expect to put into it to keep it on the road? I know I will need to follow
through with body and paint, but right now that can wait and I just want to
DRIVE this car!!!
I would first determine if your car came with power steering and brakes. Next find a mechanic experienced in old cars like yours. I believe there are conversions for the brakes and steering that would make your car easier to drive. Disk brakes are also something I would recommend. http://www.portholeauthority.com/thunderbirdETC/tech/trivia.html
Power steering conversion ------- https://www.thunderbirdbrakeparts.com/proddetail.asp? prod=tbirdpsconversion
Brakes ------ https://www.thunderbirdbrakeparts.com/? gclid=CKK7ys7My9QCFQ5EfgodU24EuQ
Costs can range from minor expenses if your uncle kept the car in top shape to tens of thousands for a full restoration to show quality condition. How about some photos?
First generation T-Birds 1955 to 1957 Could be ordered with both power steering and brakes. New old stock parts can be found. But the cost of these are so high that they should only be considered for a full on concours restoration project. Remanufactured parts are available, and there are quite a few companies that specialize in T-Birds.This sounds like the base T-bird and should have the 292 Cubic inch engine. If so, a disc brake conversion is a waste of money. As this engine only made slightly more than 200 horsepower. If you have the 312 cubic inch engine in it, You should contact someone about researching the vehicles history. You may have something very special. and should not be modified in any way. So is not to destroy the value of what could be a rare car. If the car is driver quality. Meaning that the important systems work properly. The costs of upkeep will be minimal. a full restoration on a base T- Bird, can easily cost more than the car is ever going to be worth. And should only be considered a labor of love.
Disk brakes conversions are reversible and a wise safety upgrade regardless of engine, just keep the old parts. Your car will stop quicker as engines have nothing at all to do with the brakes unless you are in the habit of driving at very high speeds. Reversible upgrades are an important part of keeping old cars on the road by improving the drivability. Electronic ignition is another good upgrade to consider.
just have the brakes and steering checked by a good mechanic in a good classic car garage- maybe the brakes just need work- maybe the steering box on that old thing just needs some work- they both might get easier- do this before you jump off the deep end and start considering expensive modifications- that is a very cool car- please keep it original, for everyone's sake- and after some maintenance and repair you still decide you don't have the shoulder strength to steer it, consider selling it to someone who will love it just as it is- like me lol
and in my opinion, I would LOVE to drive that car with worn paint and interior- there are so many '57s completely restored with shiny paint that it would be SO NICE just to see one cruising around in it's original condition- I mean it-
IF it is a full numbers matching car it would be criminal to modify it in any way. No car from the 50's drives, steers and stops like todays cars. Your first hint is the size of the steering wheel. PLEASE, DON'T CHANGE IT.
The object here is to take an undrivable car and make it a driver. Bolt on mods are in no way damaging to the value of a car. Letting it rot in a garage is. Agree with jamblues - Patina can be cool. True survivors have a value of their own but cars that have been restored a time or two already are another thing.
I don't see this car as undrivable. And doing anything to a rare or desirable car does affect value. Bolt on or not. In the collector car market decisions to leave cars as found, including dirt, dust, and cobwebs.Have had a positive effect on resale value. And the original poster, Has not mentioned that the car has been restored a time or two. Ultimately The decision is the owners. It sounds like this car will never be for sale or a museum piece. So affecting the value is a moot point. But Some research should be done to verify that this is not a rare and valuable piece of history. 55 through 57 T-Birds were set up by the factory to be road race machines. They used the base models and put in high performance drivetrains. You never know what you have until you look.
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