More 'birding


Coupe's long, flat roof was a big contributor to 'Square Bird' nickname.
    The vast majority of Ford Thunderbirds built for 1958 were two-door coupes like this one I came across in Santa Cruz del Norte.
   With the rectangular roof that helped earn the '58-through-'60 T-Bird its "Square Bird" nickname, the coupe is a handsome and distinctive design. Still, I have to say I prefer the convertible version.
This coupe, though clearly having travelled many miles, retained nearly all its original chrome trim. And while the front seats are obvious replacements, I was surprised to see the original "panel console" with auto shift lever still in place. The '58 Thunderbird was one of the first cars to get a console. Ford installed it to disguise the prominent transmission tunnel in this low-slung car.
 
Console was a new interior feature in 1958.
A Ford 352 V-8? Not a chance.

   The owner popped the hood so I could photograph the engine. I thought at the time it was the original 352-cubic-inch gasoline V-8, perhaps still coupled to a three-speed Cruse-O-Matic transmission. Now, looking at that rear-mounted distributor, I realize that's no 352.
    An earlier Ford Y-Block? A Chevy small block? No, I'm calling it a Chrysler V-8, and not an "A" engine from the 1950s, but Chrysler's later "LA" V-8, a 273 or 318, from the 1960s. How that engine reached Cuba to find its way into a Ford Thunderbird, and what brand of automatic transmission it connects to, will remain mysteries.

Survivor: 1958 Ford Thunderbird has obviously seen much use.






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