Thursday, September 25, 2014

8k: Sincere(ly Slow) Flattery: 1957 Thunderbird, VW Kit

Making replicas of limited-production, rust-prone sports cars produced decades ago is an easy business, what with hazy memories and cataracts obfuscating perceptions of the original versus the replica. No one makes replicas of 2001 Toyota Camrys for a variety of reasons, one of which is the necessity for perfect proportions and design details to avoid revealing itself to a public quite familiar with it. Despite its legendary shape, the first-generation Thunderbird is old and uncommon enough to warrant a double-take on this well-executed imposter. Find this 1957 Ford Thunderbird Volkswagen-imitating kit car for $7,500 in Cleveland, OH via craigslist. 

Bad news first. The drivetrain doesn't match the original's in the slightest. Although you could shoehorn the 215-horsepower Y-block V8 in the engine bay (chasm seems more appropriate here) with clever engine mounting. There's zero room in the frunk for your junk, occupied instead by a fuel tank, battery, and spare tire. Pack light.

You'll have to settle for getting your thrills tricking bystanders. No word on this kit's scale, but the dimensions seem uncharacteristically representative for a kit car. Its fiberglass body supports a removable hardtop with opera windows, all rolling on wire wheels and whitewalls. Look at the details in the comparison below. Even the rear fins' character lines taper off just ahead of the door handles, just like the original.

Photo courtesy of

Inside is a reasonably plush-looking interior with a full view of comically undersized windshield wipers. Normally, you could spray on some Rain-X and let speed solve your problem. With just 52 horsepower, consider something else. At least you can shift for yourself as you mar the public's collective memories of an American classic.

See more convincing kit car for less? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. Perfect hot rod material. I would use a Kennedy Engineering kit to put something unusual back there. Maybe a T-Bird TurboCoupe engine (you know, to keep things original) or perhaps a turbocharged rotary from an RX7. In any case, you wouldn't have to worry about torquing the frame or butchering a classic, only keeping it in a straight line.

  2. Looks better than the slope-shouldered, flourescent-light-eggcrate-grille 2000 Thunderbird.

  3. W8A60SEC (my mothers NY plate) White T-bird?............Milner on the lift in the this April?.........this ain't April1st..........(damn flashbacks....................)

  4. Not my kind of thing, but it looks well executed. These kits were sold from 1977-1980. According to the original ad for the kit here , it came with a bench seat (which would look better than what this example used).

    They also mention that the rear engine bay is big enough for "any engine from VW to V-8". Oh my gawd, just think of the possibilities....

  5. Front fender looks short.and those seats! Call Wayne Newton!


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