The Don Davis Collection

27 April 2013

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Lot 133

1957 Ford Thunderbird 'F-Bird' Convertible

  • Chassis no. F7FH339026

Sold for $198,000

300 bhp, 312 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, Holley four-barrel carburetor, McCulloch/Paxton VR57 supercharger, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, independent wishbone front suspension, live rear axle, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • One of 205 factory-supercharged “F-Code” Thunderbirds
  • Rare three-speed transmission with overdrive, as-delivered from the factory
  • Beautifully restored original California car
  • Long-term ownership by F-Bird experts
  • Documented with photography and original Ford factory invoice

The two-seater Thunderbird went out in 1957 with its head held high, thanks to refreshed styling and a host of new engine options. Most desirable of the new mills was the magical “F-Code” V-8.

An F-Bird, as they are lovingly known by enthusiasts, came with a Thunderbird Special 312-cubic inch V-8, to which was added a McCulloch/Paxton supercharger, a hot cam, a Holley four-barrel carburetor, and unique cylinder heads, to keep the compression ratio at a reasonably sane 8.5:1. Either a manual or automatic transmission was available. All of this was a $340 factory option package on top of the ’57 Thunderbird’s $2,944 base price, but to the lead-footed T-Bird owner, it was worth its weight in gold. The 300 horsepower of the F-Code engine turned the Thunderbird from a reasonably quick cruiser into a dedicated quarter-mile contender, which was just the thing for trouncing those cocky Corvette owners.

While 21,380 Thunderbirds were produced in 1957, only 205 of those were delivered with the F-Code engine package. The following year, the Thunderbird became a four-passenger “personal luxury car,” and the supercharged engine faded into memory after only one season. Today, the token number of F-Birds built is deeply desired by Thunderbird collectors who want only the very best.

The Don Davis Collection’s handsome F-Bird is absolutely among the finest surviving examples. Verified genuine by the “F” prefix of its serial number, it is not the cheerful yellow or pink Thunderbird from the drive-in, but a menacing ride, with its only noteworthy accessories being a removable hardtop, with no soft top underneath, and the supercharged engine mated to the rare and desirable three-speed transmission with overdrive.

Finished in glossy Raven Black over a red interior, and riding on black steel wheels, it brings to mind a black widow spider, ready to pounce…and pounce it will, as soon as the driver floors the accelerator.

Documentation that accompanies the car, including its original Ford factory invoice, verifies that it was a California car for its first few decades—originally domiciled in the southern half of the state, then brought north to the San Francisco area. It was formerly owned by F-Bird expert Jim Weatherly, later passing to the late Robert “Bo” Cheadle, and then, via Gil Baumgartner, on to Amos Minter, all very recognizable names to those who know these cars, as they are dedicated enthusiasts who know F-Code Thunderbirds inside and out. A well-restored example when Minter acquired it, his noted Dallas, Texas, shop went over the car from top to bottom to make it absolutely perfect, and it presents to their extraordinarily high standards and level of finish. The restoration is done to extremely high “point judging” levels, with all correct fixtures, fittings, stampings, and markings present under the hood. The car could easily be returned to concours quality with minor panel fit adjustments and a thorough detailing.

Befitting the outstanding quality present throughout Mr. Davis’ collection, this outstanding F-Bird, previously owned, treasured, restored, and maintained by those who know them best, is ready to impress judges or terrify whoever is alongside at a stoplight, whichever the new owner prefers.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more