Over 21,000 Thunderbirds were built for the 1957 model year, marking the end of Ford’s two-seater “personal car” – while all were memorable, a few were special. To compete with the 1957 Corvette, Ford engineers hastily created higher-horsepower Thunderbirds, dubbed E- and F-Series. The Thunderbird offered here is one such car. It was ordered by a young woman in San Jose, California, as a hardtop-only example in Inca Gold. Equipped with the high-performance, E-Code dual-quad carburetor option, mated to a three-speed manual gearbox with overdrive, it is one of as few as 150 with this specification. The Thunderbird went on to serve as daily transport for much of her 33-year ownership, with the Holley “Christmas Tree” carburetors replaced early on for smoother in-town driving. Once relegated to storage in the 1980s, she declined numerous offers for the car, prompting her to apply for the personalized California license plate “KEPT IT.”
In 1990, local enthusiasts, a father and son, vowed to give the sequestered Thunderbird a good home, and the woman bid goodbye to the car of her youth. A thorough cleaning and gentle recommissioning of the Thunderbird ensued and the original 270 hp dual-quad setup, once rebuilt, was reinstalled. A mid-1970s repaint remains presentable and all FoMoCo-etched glass, including the coveted bubble-edged original vent wings, and almost all of the chrome and brightwork remains original. It is accompanied by early registration cards dating back to 1960 and its original owner's manual, and the pair of delightful “KEPT IT” license plates remain on the car. With performance and driving dynamics well beyond those of standard C- and D-Code examples, and showing 80,500 miles on the odometer, this 1957 “E-Bird” presents as a rare California-since-new survivor that is not in need of a full restoration. It now stands as one of relatively few unrestored E-Codes with known history since new.