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1957 Ford Thunderbird review

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1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by Dominic Mako on Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:42 pm

Following World War II, many American veterans came home recalling their experiences with smaller European roadsters. They didn't just bring back memories though, as cars like the MG, Alfa Romeo, and Jaguar were being imported in large numbers. To appeal to these new buyer, manufacturer Nash Motors began producing the premium-priced, two seat Nash-Healey in the early 1950s. In an effort to capture a more broad market, General Motors displayed the lower priced Corvette roadster in 1953. The idea had occurred to Ford as well. A concept car, the Vega, was commissioned in 1951 and shown in 1953, backed by both Ford and some Hollywood celebrities:



Henry Ford II liked the little Vega, but the new Corvette had been a show stopper. Development was fast-tracked to produce a rival. In less than a year the first prototype Ford Thunderbird was displayed in February 20, 1954 (note the logo on the hood looks suspiciously familiar):



It should be acknowledged the first generation Corvette was not exactly fast nor particularly successful in its earliest years. The original Chevy six cylinder "blue flame" engine was a pedestrian 150 hp married to a poorly made fiberglass body construction. When the Thunderbird hit showrooms in 1955, they outsold the GM product by a staggering margin - 16,155 to 700. This was due in part to the parts and marketing strategy:



The American youth hotrod car culture was still in its infancy, so Ford pushed the Thunderbird as a two seat personal luxury car, relying not just on a sporty image alone. Additionally, the car's frame was a shortened version of one already used in the line-up, and the beefy 4.8L V8 engine engine was borrowed from Mercury. The sum of these parts with a sleek and athletic body made for a more expensive, but better packaged car:



A few changes were made in 1956, and some steering issues were resolved in 1957. Additionally, a larger 5.1 L V8 with two four-barrel Holley carburetors and a Paxton supercharger was offered, producing an astounding 300 HP. There were even 14 light weight Phase I T-Birds with a "NASCAR spec" engine which had a reported 340hp!



They managed to sell over 21,000 versions of the 1957 model year, making it one of the most successful Fords at the time. This early success defined the future of the Thunderbird, as it moved closer to a luxury model in succeeding generations. It also defined the future of the Corvette. GM couldn't sit idly by as this upstart was crushing them in sales. As they ceded ground to Ford in this new "personal luxury" market segment, the Corvette would be rebooted as a high performance model. The two cars, which had been intertwined in their birth, would take radically divergent paths. The 1958 Thunderbird was lengthened and became a four seat car. In a mere 10 years after its introduction it would further develop from the svelte car above into the bloated land yacht below in 1967:



While that same year in 1967 the Corvette became a destroyer of worlds, weilding a potent 427 cubic inch sword under the hood to slay their enemies. Of course, Ford had Shelby on hand to deal with that problem...

Now let us take a closer look at the car in Forza

Price: 60,000
Class: D 276
HP: 289
Torque (ftlbs): 321
Weight (lbs): 3,417
Distribution: 52%
Displacement: 5.1 L
Drive: RWD
Speed: 4
Handling: 3.5
Acceleration: 6.2
Launch: 5.2
Braking: 3.5
Gears: 3

I must confess, I was a little reluctant to do a review on this car. In my garage the 1957 Ford Thunderbird is a straight up assassin, but nothing about the stats above would seem to indicate that. Everything about the car screams "I'm average" in D class. It's also a little on the heavy side and only has THREE gears stock. The in-game car has the supercharger I mentioned earlier, but I think it's missing the Holley carburetors, hence the lower horsepower. Maybe that's the only version they could get their hands on to test.

I've tuned my car to add a little more grip and just enough horsepower to still keep it in C class. I did this tune a long time ago, and although some of my tuning has changed I've been afraid to change anything for fear of making it worse. I have a decent time on Catalunya at #826. That is my main test track, putting nearly every car at least one lap there, so any car that I have doing well there is one of the best in that class. I'll have this in the garage for a couple weeks. The livery is intended to be very simple, like an old 50s NASCAR or dirt track driver.

Class: C 425
HP: 299
Torque (ftlbs): 332
Weight (lbs): 3,461
Distribution: 52%
Displacement: 5.1 L
Drive: RWD
Speed: 5.5
Handling: 5.0
Acceleration: 6.4
Launch: 6.6
Braking: 5.2


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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by SnippetyOggy86 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:51 pm


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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by SnippetyOggy86 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:01 pm

i have 1 and have found it to be half decent if you get a good tune for it, infact i think it may be an LB car at leman

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by B4D B0Y69 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:42 pm

Dominic Mako wrote:Nash Motors began producing the premium-priced, two seat Nash-Healey




Is the Healey in this any relation to Austin-Healey Looks very similar. I would sell my soul for a car like this.
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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by Dominic Mako on Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:07 am

That picture is actually the Vega concept, but you have a very good eye. You can tell just at a glance there is a strong resemblance to the Austin-Healey 100, which coincidentally also came out in 1953, the same year as the Vega concept. The Austin-Healey 100 is below:



This is the Nash-Healey, which is really one of the first of this roadster boom of the early 1950s to really impact US sales. This model is from 1951:


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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by LoneStranger on Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:52 am

Yeah the T-bird was the selling point in the car pack I bought it in, I wound it up to A class and it's not too terrible there. Of course this is me driving it so some corners can get a bit...interesting.

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by SnippetyOggy86 on Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:32 am

LoneStranger wrote:Yeah the T-bird was the selling point in the car pack I bought it in, I wound it up to A class and it's not too terrible there. Of course this is me driving it so some corners can get a bit...interesting.

I thought the T-bird came on the disk

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by Guest on Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:10 am

yeah im sure its one of the default cars you can gain when lvling up

Anyways great review again Dom Smile

I think im off to get a T Bird now

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by LoneStranger on Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:40 pm

Yeah I lost track, there are a lot of cars in that game now.

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by SnippetyOggy86 on Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:58 am

indeed there is, I had a go of this yesterday and its really nice to drive around Cat, you've done a good job there with it dom. Very Happy

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by Dominic Mako on Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:46 pm

its really nice to drive around Cat

As soon as I read that I knew you had beaten my time. I really do spend quite a bit of time on that track, so any car where I've set a best time there should be pretty decent.

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Re: 1957 Ford Thunderbird review

Post by SnippetyOggy86 on Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:01 pm

Sorry if it sounded like i was bragging, i really wasn't. It just seemed like the place to go as you had tuned and set a time there with it.

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