Ford Thunderbird Phase I Supercharged D/F

For the 1957 season, NASCAR changed its regulations to permit any induction system, fuel injection and supercharging included. Ford chose to offer a supercharged engine option to remain competitive in racing but in order to be accepted by NASCAR, 100 supercharged cars had to be completed prior to the start of NASCAR Speed Weeks on February 3, 1957. The FOMOCO Supercharger program therefore included the hand-building of 65 Ford Custom Two-Door Sedans, 20 Ford Convertibles and 15 Thunderbirds. These cars were only sold to established racing teams and some of the Thunderbirds were even entered in the NASCAR Speed Trials on the beach, one of which established a new American sports car speed record of 138.755 mph, beating the previous year’s Corvette record by 6 mph!

All 15 racing Thunderbirds were built at the Dearborn plant on January 25, 1957. They were equipped with a McCulloch VR57 Phase I supercharger and, as they were intended for racing purposes, were manufactured with three-speed manual transmissions, button hubcaps, black tires, seat belts and without a heater or fender skirts.

In June 1957 Ford began production of a supercharged car that was offered to the public. These cars used a somewhat detuned version of the McCulloch VR57 supercharger (the Phase II VR57), a less aggressive camshaft and lower compression. The production “Phase II” cars were available with such options as automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, whitewalls, and fenders skirts. Produced with an “F” in the serial number, denoting the supercharged engine, these cars have come to be known as “F-Birds”. Exceptionally rare, only 194 “F-Birds” were built. The 15 racing supercharged cars, however, had the normal “D” engine code and are now typically called “D/F Birds”, although Ford internal documentation referred to them as “Phase I” Supercharged Thunderbirds.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

300bhp, 312 cubic inch overhead valve V8 engine with Phase I McCulloch VR57 supercharger, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Ford Thunderbird Phase I Supercharged D/F