Car Show Outtake: Flipping The Bird


Never judge a book by its cover. I have always found this to be sage advice,  whether dealing with people or cars. 


This might look like just another clean, stock ’61-’63 Thunderbird, but upon closer inspection, it’s anything but. If the bag-of-snakes intake and large plastic intake elbow haven’t already tipped you off, here’s an even better look:


This car’s owner has apparently replaced the stock FE-series lump with the 4.6 liter, four-cam, 32-valve modular engine out of a later Ford vehicle, most likely a Lincoln Mark VIII or Mustang Cobra. As all motorheads know, the Ford modular engine is a pretty hefty chunk of machinery. While it’s around 100 lbs. lighter than the old FE-series big block that once resided here, it’s considerably wider- especially the four-cam version. Getting it to fit in the vintage T-Bird’s cramped engine bay must have required major surgery to the car’s unibody shell,  not to mention fabrication of new custom engine and transmission mounts. See that little plastic reservoir next to the driver’s side hood hinge? That has to be for a hydraulic clutch. Manual transmission, anyone?

While I probably wouldn’t do something quite this radical if I owned this car, the owner did a first-rate job. The installation is neat and clean, and everything fits. With its plain white exterior hiding a potent late-model drivetrain underneath, this particular Dearborn classic could be the ultimate bird of prey.