Classic of the Month: John’s 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Imagine if you were paid to drive a 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible. John Stover doesn’t have to imagine it. While in high school, he had a part-time job doing exactly that. John not only maintained the T-Bird for its owner, he would transport it to the train station so the gentleman could escape the hustle and bustle of New York City and drive it to his cottage upstate.

1957 Ford Thunderbird
courtesy of John Stover
1957 Ford Thunderbird

It gets better. Well, worse first, then better. One summer day in 1967, John received a call from the Thunderbird’s owner, who couldn’t get the car to start. John hustled to the train station to help out and found the engine severely flooded. The owner made one last attempt to start it, but the old bird backfired and the carburetor caught fire. John quickly put out the flames before the car suffered any damage, but in the excitement the frustrated owner asked him a question that sounded like a joke but was as serious as a heart attack.

“Do you have a dollar?”

“Yes,” John responded, pulling a bill from his wallet.

“Great,” the man said. “You just bought yourself a car. I’ve had enough of this old thing!”

Suddenly the proud owner of a ’57 T-Bird, John got the car to start and excitedly drove it home. It became his daily driver.

John later courted Irene, his high school sweetheart, in his one-dollar Ford. Irene even learned how to drive in the Thunderbird, later using it to take her driver’s test. She would also become John’s wife and, needless to say, they two have shared many memories in the T-Bird and have never considered selling it.

1957 Ford Thunderbird before restoration
courtesy of John Stover
1957 Ford Thunderbird before restoration

The Stovers did park the car for a while, however. When they bought a new 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ, the Thunderbird went into hibernation. Some 42 years later, in 2015, John retired and decided it was time to bring the T-Bird back to life. An 18-month restoration followed, with John doing all the work himself. Now the Stovers are cruising through their Golden Years in the car that’s born witness to the endurance of their romance.

It’s safe to say that John knows a good deal when he sees one, and he holds tight to the important things in life.

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Editor’s note: Hagerty’s Classic of the Month begins with a simple conversation. A member calls Hagerty and shares their story with a licensed agent. Those stories are collected, and a committee chooses a weekly winner. The four weekly winners are shared with the entire company, and employees vote to determine a monthly winner. At the end of the year, there is another vote to decide Hagerty’s Classic of the Year. Congratulations to Licensed Sales Agent Reggie Horning, who provided details about this month’s winner.