So bad Ass, ok its a replica, but sometimes thats ok in my book and this is one of those times. Super rad 1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD Y-BLOCK BATTLEBIRD
I am a sucker for head Fairings….
1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD done as a replica of a 1957 “BATTLEBIRD” Made from a “real-steel” 1957 Ford Thunderbird.
It would take a lot to list the history of the two “Battlebirds” made in 1957 by DePalo Engineering.
The many pages are listed in “Google” and lots of pictures/history under “Battlebirds” in H.A.M.B.
I have seen 3-4 other replicas around but none done so close (body-wise) as this one to the one remaining original that sold at auction 2 years ago for $280,000.
That one (# 98) was driven mainly by Marvin Panch and driven in a 24 hour Daytona race by “Fireball” Roberts and worked-tuned by Ralph Moody of Holman-Moody.
This car is lettered as it was in that race and the picture of “Fireball” driving it (off in the Daytona dirt in 1959) in that race is listed in my pictures.
He finished 4th that day and there is no other record of him driving it again.
The 2nd “Battlebird” (nick-named that later on) disappeared.
Some say it was wrecked in a drag race (they loved beating Corvettes)and others say the truck hauling it vanished in the South? I did not go to the extensive and expensive mechanical changes like the originals such as: the Y-Block moved back 6-8 inches, a Jaguar 4 speed and a Halibrand “quick-change” rear end.
Nor did I make the hood, deck, doors, head fairing, rear bumper, headlight and taillight bezels and gas tank lid out of aluminum like the originals.
I was trying to keep the costs down and still have a quality car that the general public could see and appreciate how much went into the originals in 1957 that had un-official but recorded runs of 160 mph and one of 204 MPH ON THE BEACH !!! You may be familiar with my three previous “Fireball” Roberts and two Fred Lorenzens replica cars.
I do one heck of a lot of research before even starting a project and this car took over 5 years of off-and-on work as money was available from selling the previous replicas.
I have at least twice the amount being asked in parts and labor in this beautiful Tribute to my HERO, “Fireball” Roberts (missed the Hall of Fame by ONE VOTE).
THIS 1957 “BATTLEBIRD” TRIBUTE CAR MECHANICAL: Started with a good running “D” code (312) 3-speed complete Thunderbird.
Cut the windshield off, pulled out the motor, dash, interior and bumpers and sold all of that (cheap).
Ordered and installed ALL NEW front end parts (ball-joints, tie-rods,shocks, etc.), brakes, bearings, bushings, etc., etc.
Ordered all new chrome parts such as the grille, handles, emblems to install later.
Took an NOS 292 block and made into a 312 with a NOS 312 crank, rods and pistons, “G” heads and a new “GOOD” cam (it sounds terrific)! My engine builder has built 5-10 Y-Blocks for me and he says that “this is THE BEST one yet”.
Has the aluminum T-Bird valve covers that are “vented” as the originals on this car were.
Has a one wire Alternator (as some ’57 Police cars did) as a generator would not fit with this motor front combination to be able to install a Fuel Injection pump & pulleys.
I purchased a COMPLETE ORIGINAL HILBORN Y-BLOCK FUEL-INJECTION set-up (only 141 made) and a Y-Block Vertex Magneto(over $5K for both & rebuild).
Had both rebuilt and checked at the factories.
Had the original radiator cleaned and checked and got all new hoses and belts.
Has powder-coated Sanderson headers with straight exhaust coming out the rockers as the originals did.
The manual 3 speed trans and the 9″ rear end were opened and checked…all good.
Purchased 4 new American Racing; Halibrand-”Kidney-Bean” wheels just like the originals run in ’57.
Installed 4 new 15″ Radials as the Bias ply tires tend to “flat-spot” from sitting long periods of time.
I elected to get it running good with a 2-barrel set-up I had around and work out any “bugs” before attempting the F.I.
Now I will leave that up to the buyer.
It runs GREAT as-is but needs either the F.I.
or 2 x 4s or maybe an original Paxton Supercharger (originally were SC, but too high of rpm for the blowers then).
THE BODY: Where to begin? Bodywork and paint done by professional bodymen.
It is NOT a frame-off restoration.
Had some rust in the floors, rockers and door bottoms,-all fixed and painted/coated underneath.
They put the in-out louvers in the RH door as original.
I cut the “lighting” holes in the hood as originals had.
I did not cut off and fill the hood scoop as the original hoods were aluminum and did not have a “scoop”.
I needed it for air cleaner clearance.
If the buyer decides to remove the scoop later, I have a pint of matching paint with the car along with some other “odds & ends”.
No rust in trunk.
A carpenter-friend made the head fairing “buck” and I made and finished the rear bumper, deck (with gas fill) and the head fairing in fiberglass.
My wife made the padded headrest.
No rollbar in headrest.
I made the aluminum tonneau cover with a lexan windshield and the special spring-loaded hood and deck pins just like the originals.
I also made the gauge cluster to match the original.
Some gauges still need to be connected.
Front bumper removed and special “nerf-bars” made/installed.
Special ordered lexan-dome headlight covers ($180) installed.These covers were available (in 1957-196?) in J.C.
Whitney for $2.95 ! Installed a racing seat and airplane seat belt as used then.
Battery with cut-off switch on front floor.
Also installed an early brass fire extinuisgher and a Coleman cooler with a driver water hose as used back then.
“Cockpit” tonneau needs only fastners installed.
MISC: I could not have completed the car without the help of my good friend, Ted Kempgens and Micky Kempgens on the lettering & decals.
Teds shop (Creative Motor Sports) is famous for doing quality restorations such as the Billy Burkes Belly Tanker featured in Tom Cotters recent book.
There is at least 1500-2,000 hours of “love-labor” in this car so you know what just that would cost.
The car has only been to a few shows but it is a BIG hit wherever it goes.
I fullfilled my dream in Feburary and got to drive it “on The BEACH” (Daytona-of course)! It has a clear title and has head and taillights, so it could be licensed/plated to drive on the road as long as the local police don’t mind a “little” noise.
I used to drive my ’57 “Fireball” Supercharged Custom to many local and long distant shows.
I’m 70 now and have one more “Fireball” car I want to complete but need money to do it.
If the buyer is a “Fireball” fan then I know that this car will go to a good home! Tom Kitchen 1957cobra/975 items/100% feedback.