Featured Thunderbird for September 1997

1957 Roadster, Exterior: Black, Engine: 312 cid
Owners: Terry & Jane Ridgley, Huntsville, AL USA

Our Thunderbird belonged to my great uncle, and was purchased new by his son, my second cousin, D. P. Walsh, of Sun City, AZ. in 1957. Mr. Walsh decided in 1990 that he was ready to part with the car, and gave us the chance to buy it from him. The transmission fluid had leaked from the car, and it had not been started for several months, so the car was shipped from Sun City to Lexington, KY. (our home at the time) by Classic Express.

After repairing (rebuilding) the transmission, and taking care of some other fairly minor mechanical repairs we drove the car periodically and participated in some local shows for the first year. Shortly thereafter an extensive restoration was begun, initially by Greg Blevins of Nicholasville, KY. In 1993 we were transferred to Huntsville, AL., and the restoration was completed by Dan Shady of Vintage Automotive, Brownsboro, AL.

The car is "D" model, with an automatic transmissin, both tops, and several power options. One interesting feature is the convertible top. The car had always been used and driven with the hard top installed, and the convertible top had never been used. The original convertible top, which we use almost exclusively now (except when we have the top down), was literally in mint condition. The rayon fabric is perfect. The only imperfection is some minor yellowing of the plastic window.

The exhaust system has been replaced by stainless steel, resonators eliminated, and glass packs installed. We tell folks that the car is almost too loud, and that is the way we wanted it. It really sounds like a '50's car should sound. We also tell people it drives as good as it looks, which it does.

The car is pictured by an SR-71, Black Bird, at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center. The "black bird" flies at three times the speed of sound, while the Thunderbird, of course, is timeless.

Terry & Jane Ridgley

Copyright © 1997 by Terry & Jane Ridgley


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