19-20 January 2017

Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection

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Lot 164

1957 Ford Thunderbird 'D-Code'

  • Chassis no. D7FH275816

Sold for $45,100

245 bhp, 312 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine with a single four-barrel carburetor, two-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission, independent wishbone front suspension, live rear axle, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • Offered from the Mohrschladt Family Collection
  • High-quality older restoration in the desirable original color, Dusk Rose
  • Restored from a low-mileage AACA Senior First Prize winner
  • Factory soft top and removable hardtop; numerous power accessories
  • An American icon of its era

The 1957 Thunderbird is considered by many to be the most desirable year for the model, as it introduced slight changes to the 1956 styling that resonated very well with the public. The rear of the body was lengthened by six inches, allowing for more luggage space and room for a spare tire, and additional engine options were also offered, including the “D-Code” 245-horsepower engine with a single four-barrel carburetor.

Ford had originally hoped to build 10,000 Thunderbirds for the year, but sales and production both exceeded expectations, resulting in 16,155 examples being produced before production transitioned to the re-styled 1958 “Squarebird.” Many orders went unfilled at the end of the year amidst a chorus of begging clients hoping to keep the two-seater “Little Bird” in production, to no avail.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the original D-Code Thunderbird offered here was at one time owned by legendary country singer Conway Twitty, as part of the collection of automobiles exhibited at his Twitty City complex near Nashville. While Twitty’s ownership has not been proven, the car won its AACA Junior First Prize at Hershey in 1995 and its Senior First Prize at Annapolis in 1997, both while owned by William Mortland of New Jersey. It was subsequently owned by freelance writer Randy Blaun, whose story about acquiring the Thunderbird was published in the 23 October 2002 New York Times.

A fresh restoration of the Thunderbird was performed in 2005 by Performance Auto Group of New York, work that is documented by photographs on file. Sparkling in the original color of Dusk Rose, it is equipped with the desirable Ford-O-Matic transmission, power seat, power windows, power steering and brakes, and a Town & Country radio, as well as a black soft top and removable white “porthole” hardtop. The paint is factory-quality, with a good, rich shine; the interior is in fine condition; and the chrome work is consistently very good throughout, showcasing the level of detail gone to in the restoration. Both under the hood and on the chassis, correct stenciling and details present a proper “factory-fresh” appearance. The trunk carries a proper plaid liner and spare wheel and tire, as-original. All four chrome wire wheels are shod in Diamondback radial tires, for modern drivability.

Every collection of 1950s American automobiles needs a pink Thunderbird with all the “goodies.” This car fits the bill nicely, with a lovely presentation and the promise of many happy miles to come—perhaps with “Hello Darlin’” playing on the radio.


Please note that since publication of the catalogue, RM Sotheby's has confirmed that this Thunderbird is not the car that was owned by Conway Twitty, which survives in another private collection.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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