Casting : Classic '57 T-Bird
The 1957 Ford Thunderbird is one of America's most
beloved cars. Mattel's reproduction of the roadster version of
this classic is also beloved by redline collectors. It is clearly
a favorite of many!
Ford introduced the T-Bird in 1955 as a two-seater "personal luxury
car". The car came standard with a removable fiberglass top; a
cloth convertible top was a popular option. The '55 T-Bird
featured a 292 c.i. V-8 engine. For 1957, the T-Bird was
re-designed with a larger drop-down grille and front bumper, more
prominent tailfins, and large round tail lights. The spare tire,
which had been externally mounted for '56, moved back inside the
trunk. Also, because Ford raced the T-Bird in '57, more powerful
engine choices were available, including supercharged versions of the
312 c.i. V-8. More than 21,000 '57 T-Birds were sold. The
'57 T-Bird was the last two-seater Ford would build until the '82 EXP.
The redline era Hot Wheels version of the '57 T-Bird was one of four
classic Fords that were featured in the 1969 line up. All '57
T-Birds were produced at the US plant and featured an opening hood, a
clear cut-down windshield, "chrome" grille and bumpers, and a white or
There are some interesting variations of the '57 T-Bird, and they
likely correspond to minor changes made to the casting during it's
two-year production run. The most obvious is a change to the
base. Early run cars have a smaller rear fuel tank. Most of
these correspond to dark interior cars. This change possibly
provided for a stronger base, less prone to fracturing when the posts
were spun during assembly.
Early (top) and late-run Classic
'57 T-Bird bases. Note the different fuel tanks.
Aside from their colors, white and brown interiors also differ in that
the catch piece that forms the center console is wider in white (i.e.
late run) interiors. As with the fuel tanks, this change may have
been aimed at making the piece more sturdy. At least one white
interior T-Bird with a narrow console has been found, and it is an
unpainted pre-production piece.
Prototype (left) and late run
interiors. Note the wider center console in the late-run interior.
Classic T-Bird interiors. Again,
note the wider center console in the late-run white interior.
Another interesting and very rare variation that has been found on
Classic '57 T-Birds is a black-painted front grille. Unusual
black-painted highlights have been found on many of the 1969 and 1970
Hot Wheels cars, but these cars are quite uncommon. Perhaps the
addition of highlights was minimized due to the extra effort that was
required in production. Most of these cars have other hallmarks
of early production, suggesting that maybe a first short run included
painted highlights that were quickly discontinued. The purple
T-Bird pictured below features a black grille, narrow-console white
interior, and small-tank base.
A purple T-Bird with
black-painted grille and prototype interior.
Similarly, at least one '57 T-Bird with a black painted hood scoop
opening has been found.
A blue Classic '57 T-Bird with a
black-painted hood scoop.
Another feature that can be found on some '57 T-Birds are
A blue '57 T-Bird with painted
Some collectors believe
that the Classic '57 T-Bird was one of the first castings of the 1969
line up to be produced as they have been found on the "Cheetah" blister
pack cards that were printed in late 1967. An early run car such
as the rare creamy pink T-Bird with dark interior shown below would
certainly be consistent with this theory.
A beautiful rose Classic '57 T-Bird
in the blister pack!
|hard to find
|hard to find
|hard to find
||hard to find
|very hard to find
||very hard to find
and brown Classic T-Birds.
A killer light
gold Classic '57 T-Bird!
Three shades of
blue: light, medium (aka "Windex"), and dark.
A pair of
Classic '57 T-Birds in antifreeze.
A rare brown
Classic '57 T-Bird with a white interior!
T-Birds in gold and orange.
A lime Classic
Rare and in
great condition: a hot pink Classic '57 T-Bird!
color for the '57 T-Bird: magenta.
An olive Classic
'57 T-Bird with a dark interior.
yellow Classic '57 T-Bird.
An unpainted '57
T-Bird with a prototype white interior.
interesting gold enamel Classic '57 T-Bird with a black steering
wheel! (Courtesy of B. Pascal)
& info credits: Ken McLaren, Jerry
Schmitt & Rick Wilson
Additional photos provided by the Redlines Online community
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