Lot 164

Arizona 2017

1957 Ford Thunderbird 'D-Code'

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection


$45,100 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • High-quality older restoration in the desirable original color, Dusk Rose
  • Restored from a low-mileage AACA Senior First Prize winner
  • Factory soft top and removable hardtop; numerous power accessories
  • An American icon of its era

245 bhp, 312 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine with a single four-barrel carburetor, two-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission, independent wishbone front suspension, live rear axle, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

Addendum: Please note that since publication of the catalogue, RM Sotheby's has confirmed that this Thunderbird is not the car that was owned by Conway Twitty, which survives in another private collection.

The 1957 Thunderbird is considered by many to be the most desirable year for the model, as it introduced slight changes to the 1956 styling that resonated very well with the public. The rear of the body was lengthened by six inches, allowing for more luggage space and room for a spare tire, and additional engine options were also offered, including the “D-Code” 245-horsepower engine with a single four-barrel carburetor.

Ford had originally hoped to build 10,000 Thunderbirds for the year, but sales and production both exceeded expectations, resulting in 16,155 examples being produced before production transitioned to the re-styled 1958 “Squarebird.” Many orders went unfilled at the end of the year amidst a chorus of begging clients hoping to keep the two-seater “Little Bird” in production, to no avail.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the original D-Code Thunderbird offered here was at one time owned by legendary country singer Conway Twitty, as part of the collection of automobiles exhibited at his Twitty City complex near Nashville. While Twitty’s ownership has not been proven, the car won its AACA Junior First Prize at Hershey in 1995 and its Senior First Prize at Annapolis in 1997, both while owned by William Mortland of New Jersey. It was subsequently owned by freelance writer Randy Blaun, whose story about acquiring the Thunderbird was published in the 23 October 2002 New York Times.

A fresh restoration of the Thunderbird was performed in 2005 by Performance Auto Group of New York, work that is documented by photographs on file. Sparkling in the original color of Dusk Rose, it is equipped with the desirable Ford-O-Matic transmission, power seat, power windows, power steering and brakes, and a Town & Country radio, as well as a black soft top and removable white “porthole” hardtop. The paint is factory-quality, with a good, rich shine; the interior is in fine condition; and the chrome work is consistently very good throughout, showcasing the level of detail gone to in the restoration. Both under the hood and on the chassis, correct stenciling and details present a proper “factory-fresh” appearance. The trunk carries a proper plaid liner and spare wheel and tire, as-original. All four chrome wire wheels are shod in Diamondback radial tires, for modern drivability.

Every collection of 1950s American automobiles needs a pink Thunderbird with all the “goodies.” This car fits the bill nicely, with a lovely presentation and the promise of many happy miles to come—perhaps with “Hello Darlin’” playing on the radio.