View Full Version : Missing car keys

07-20-2015, 07:40 AM
I have a friend that has a T-bird that's been sitting in storage for untold years. (He's the original owner. Not sure what model year, but from his description it sounds like a Squarebird.) He wants to start it but has lost the keys. Although it can be hot wired, a new set of keys would be convenient.

Does anyone know of a source (not prohibitively expensive) for replacement keys?



PS.. I'll be driving out to help him get the car started. I'll be sure to post pictures of this "barn find."

07-21-2015, 04:35 PM
Richard, it sounds like he is gonna need a locksmith to work on that ignition switch. I understand that a locksmith can put a tool in that switch and get the tumbler settings and make a new key. That will take care of the key for the ignition switch and the doors, but he will have to do the same thing for the trunk lock, I gather, which uses a different key. I am told that it is not a matter of taking out the cylinder in the Ignition switch because you have to have the key in the lock to do that. That was what I was told anyway.

07-22-2015, 11:54 AM
Yes, you need the key to remove the lock cylinder.

I think you can remove the entire mechanism from the car and remove the cylinder that way, but I'm not sure. If so you can buy a new cylinder set, one for the ignition and a matching two for the doors.

Getting into the trunk without the key is a major problem. If you drill the lock out you have to be careful not to push the mechanism behind it out. It is connected to the latch via a short control rod and if that lets go you're in trouble. You can't get into the trunk from the back seat. Even if you cut a hole in the bottom of the trunk, Ford installed a small plate over the opening to the latch as an anti-theft measure, and I'm not sure you can remove it with the trunk closed.

07-22-2015, 01:06 PM
I was talking with John ~ jopizz about this. John says that hiring a locksmith could be quite expensive. It is possible to fix this problem by first, disconnecting the battery from the wiring harness I would imagine! Then by disconnecting and removing the ignition switch and take it to a work bench. Then you can drill out the key cylinder, drilling at the top of the key cylinder to destroy the tumblers. Once you do that, put a screwdriver into the key cylinder and it should turn freely as you turn the screwdriver. Remove the key cylinder and replace it with one that comes with a new key that you can order for whichever Tbird that is from any of the Tbird parts houses. A new Door Lock & Ignition Tumbler with 2 keys for a Squarebird is $69.95, $49.95 for a Bulletbird, and the same for a Flairbird, from The Bird Nest. But check Rock Auto, who gives us a 5% discount, or the other parts houses for their price.

John says you can do the same thing for the trunk lock, but you can do that with the locking emblem on the car. Just be careful. What he has done is to slip something like a piece of rubber tubing over the drill bit, that only allows you to drill into the lock about 1" to 1 1/4". You do not want to drill in to far. Once again, drill in at the top of the key cylinder till the tumblers are drilled out. It should turn freely then, and you should be able to get it out. That should allow you to open the trunk. Take your new Trunk Lock Cylinder & 2 key set that you bought, and install it. The Bird Nest has them for the '58-'59 for Part #43505A $23.95, for the '60 (different version apparently) Part #43505D for $29.95. Part #43505A $23.95 for the Bulletbird, for the '64 only, Part #43505E $29.95 (a different version from the '65-'66). For the '65-'66, Part # 43505F $29.95. Once again, check Rock Auto and others for pricing.

If I have the information wrong on how to drill out those key cylinders, hopefully John will come along and clean it up for me!

08-15-2015, 12:46 PM
Here are the pics of my friend's 1957 T-bird. Purchased in 1958, he's the second owner. The last time it was running was when his kids drove it as their high school car. It's been stored in his former gin mill (now an antique shop) for the last 25 years. The engine is a 292. The original paint was a coral red, not the current green.

He wants to get it running again. The starter turns the engine smoothly, no problem there. Frozen carb accelerator pump (I'm currently rebuilding the carb). Rusted fuel line to the carb (replaced it). He's removing the fuel tank (seems to be rust-free) to drain, clean, seal. Some rusty ignition wiring.

Will post progress.

08-15-2015, 01:21 PM
Hi Richard, well, he seems to be lucky that the engine is okay, but it certainly looks like he has some major work ahead of him. There was a Flame Red, a Torch Red, and a Coral Sand color in 1957. As I recall, the Coral Sand color is rare. Because the all-new 1958 Thunderbirds weren't ready for production in time to be introduced with the rest of the new Ford models, it was decided to hold over production of the 1957 models longer than usual to keep new Thunderbirds in dealer inventory. When the changeover to the 1958 models occurred at the factory, new 1958 colors were sprayed on the '57 T-birds to prevent any delays on the assembly line. Black and White remained, Sun Gold replaced Inca Gold, Gunmetal Gray H, replaced Gunmetal Gray N, Azure Blue replaced Starmist Blue, Seaspray Green replaced Willow Green and Torch Red replaced Flame Red. So the 1957 production is a bit different from previous Little Bird production runs due to the change in colors in the latter production run. It will be interesting to see what his Data Plate says about the car. Please post the work to be done on it in the Little Bird Technical Forum instead of here though. Good luck to him, and when he gets it done, it should look great once more!



08-15-2015, 06:03 PM
Tell your friend his engine is not a 292. It is a 312 Y-Block. All Y-Blocks had solid lifters. - Dave

08-17-2015, 09:17 AM

Funny you should mention that! My friend Jim (the car owner) said that it was originally a 292, which burned out and was replaced with a 312. But the carb is a 2 barrel and, based on the manual, 312s only had 4-barrels. So I thought it was actually a 292.

Assuming interchangeability, is it possible that it's a 312 with a 292 intake manifold?

The car is quite far away, but next trip up there I'll be able to take a closer look.


Joe Johnston
08-17-2015, 10:03 AM
is it possible that it's a 312 with a 292 intake manifold?

Yes. Many Y-block parts are interchangeable but there are also some Thunderbird specific exterior engine parts as well.

Its also possible this car is a rather low production model originally equipped with the 2 bbl carb. If so, that is verified by the first letter of the vin# from the tag on the firewall. Please post the first 4 characters of the vin# if you have it, or take and post a picture of the firewall tag for someone to completely decode it for you.

08-17-2015, 10:24 AM
Y-Blocks (like FEs) are very hard to tell the difference from the outside.
I noticed the carb on that engine was not the traditional 'teapot' style that normally came with Thunderbirds back then. But changing carbs and manifolds was commonly done. Teapot carbs were notorious for being difficult and America went through an era when economy was the name of the game. So, I suspect that possibly the intake manifold and carb were changed to a more common (and more reliable) two-bbl.

How do you tell the size of a Y-Block? If bore and stroke measurements are impossible, the crankshaft can be identified by a clear dot on the flange. This cannot be seen if an automatic trans is installed but removing the bell housing of a stick trans will reveal it.
Y-Block main cap are marked EBU except for 312 main caps, which are always marked ECZ. <--this is by far the easiest way to tell the difference.

I worked in Dearborn but I could never understand why Ford had three engines so close in size. All Y's shared the same cam, timing set, water pump, distributor, oil pan, etc. (like FE engines) but look at the spread between 272, 292 and 312. If a 292 is bored +.030, it's now a 312! These are little engines that barely break the 300 cube SBF engine standards. They also need essential oil modifications or they won't last long. That's why Ford quickly introduced the FE engine line. - Dave

08-17-2015, 02:53 PM
Nasty looking gouge along the passenger side and I guess the sills will need replaced but otherwise what a 'find'! It will tidy up to a nice car I reckon.

08-17-2015, 04:02 PM
If it's not the original or numbers matching motor I'd put one of these in her:

http://www.latemodelrestoration.com/item/M6007M50/2011-Mustang-Ford-Racing-50L-Crate-Engine?utm_source=google-shopping&utm_medium=comparison-shopping&utm_campaign=google-shopping-v2&gclid=CjwKEAjwjMauBRDH-bOCo56b13wSJABA2-Hvj2VNpiqx1f9Dpsw89tna5LY5xzB0muUlrdBRdxr2qRoCpLTw _wcB

08-17-2015, 07:02 PM
If it's not the original or numbers matching motor I'd put one of these in her... No, no... Ford engines had no numbers to match. Back then, the casting numbers were all interchangeable too. The only big difference was in truck heads vs. car heads due to valve sizes. G heads are the most desirable but '59 Fairlane 292 heads have the same large valves. - Dave

08-17-2015, 07:44 PM
No, no... Ford engines had no numbers to match. Back then, the casting numbers were all interchangeable too. The only big difference was in truck heads vs. car heads due to valve sizes. G heads are the most desirable but '59 Fairlane 292 heads have the same large valves. - Dave

I'm aware of that. "Numbers matching" means that the serial number on the part matches the series used when the body was manufactured. So in other words, there is no way to prove that engine went with that body, but it could have.

Recently, when I discovered my carburetor body was beyond repair, I found one within the same range of numbers on ebay (super lucky- same week I found I needed it).