Our Cars: Kim Hagerty’s ’57 T-Bird

1957 Thunderbird

Kim Hagerty grew up in a family of automobile lovers. Her father, Frank, was a gear head who had a particular fondness for classics, and he helped each of his three children restore a car of his or her own. In 1996, she left a successful law career and returned to Traverse City, Mich., to join the family business.

Title: Chairman of the Board

Years at Hagerty: 15 years

Car: 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Background: The first car I ever owned, a 1962 Corvair Station Wagon, I restored with my dad. I drove my brother (current Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty) to his first day of kindergarten in that car. I went on to restore other cars with my dad, doing everything from dropping an engine into the back end of a Porsche to learning how to weld.

Why this car? Thunderbirds have special meaning to me. The first car I ever helped my dad restore was a 1956 T-Bird, and every Saturday I’d dutifully wash that car until I left home for college.

Years later, my brother spoke with a friend whose private collection featured many classics, including a Thunderbird that he was looking to sell. It sounded like it was perfect for me. Not only was my first restoration experience with a T-Bird, but it was my favorite color – pink! After a quick review by Hagerty’s own Fleet Operations Team, it was determined the car was in good shape and the price was fair.

Favorite drive: I adore driving my ’57 Thunderbird, Pinky, during cherry blossom season. I take her out for the first drive of the season among the hundreds of blossoming cherry trees that our region is known for – it’s a gorgeous drive!

Best and worst moments: I could relay a few worst moments from my restoration days. One was learning to weld and causing more holes in the Corvair instead of fixing it. I also didn’t enjoy any of the sanding. I couldn’t wait for that part of the restoration to be complete.

My best moment, and most memorable, was being able to drive the family’s ’56 black Thunderbird in the Fourth of July Parade after the car spent years as a trailer queen. I remember having a very stiff left calf muscle because her clutch was so hard, but I will never forget my brother, McKeel, running alongside me throughout the parade route, holding up the hood as she overheated.
These days, my best moments are seeing the smiles on people’s faces (especially little girls) whenever I drive Pinky!

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