Rides from the Readers: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

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1957 Ford Thunderbird Lawrence Kuznetz reader ride
Lawrence Kuznetz

Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to the above email address.

Today’s featured car is a 1957 Ford Thunderbird … on the outside, anyways. In its earlier days, when it wore Colonial White, a 400-hp, 389-cu-in Pontiac Tri-Power V-8 sat under its hood, mated to a Muncie four-speed and putting power to the ground via a 4:11 limited-slip diff. To harness all that power, it received oversize station wagon brakes and 15-inch Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires. Unsurprisingly, this car’s first owner was a NASCAR driver in his younger days, who then sold the hot-rodded T-Bird to its current owner, Lawrence Kuznetz, for $2500.

1957 Ford Thunderbird Lawrence Kuznetz reader ride
Lawrence Kuznetz

This particular Thunderbird has had the honor of parking next to Alan Shepard’s 427 Corvette and Wally Schirra’s steel gray Maserati while Kuznetz lived in Houston, Texas, and worked on Project Apollo. When NASA sent Kuznetz to graduate school at UC Berkeley, the trusty Thunderbird—by then painted its current shade of burgundy—was his steed of choice. The trip culminated in a jaunt down Highway 1, a trip that Kuznetz remembered so fondly that he reprised it thirty years later.

However, the T-Bird received a mechanical refresh beforehand. Its 4:11 rear was swapped for a 3.10, its four-speed for a Richmond six-speed, and its 15-inch Blue Streaks for Halibrand 17-inchers. That 389 Pontiac V-8 was rebuilt to 421 spec, and, on Highway 1, Kuznetz and his T-Bird came full circle.

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