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'55-'57 Mexican Tbird Production History

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  • '55-'57 Mexican Tbird Production History

    The following is a result of an email that I sent out regarding the 1957 Mexican assembled E-Code Thunderbird that was recently offered for sale at the San Antonio Don Kruse Auction March 28th, 2015. High bid was $46,000 but it did not reach the Reserve price and did not sell. This caused some comments back regarding this email, as some people do not know that 197 1955-1957 Thunderbirds were assembled in Mexico City for Ford in their La Villa plant. I have known about these Tbirds for some years now.

    The following information regarding 1955-1957 Thunderbird assembly in the Mexico City plant was originally sourced from CTCI's "Early Bird" and noted as well in the VTCI's 1955-1957 Original Factory Specifications manual, which Alan Tast was a co-author of. In addition, Alan, who provided me with the following information, also covered this subject in his book, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" published in 1996.

    The topic of 1955-1957 Thunderbird Mexican assembly was covered as follows on page F7-1 of the 1955-1957 VTCI OFS, dated 12/3/2002:

    1955 Additional Information: No breakdown of engine/transmission combinations has been found by VTCI Export: Of the 16,155 cars produced at the Dearborn Assembly Plant, 619 were exported as assembled units, and 48 were shipped “knocked down” for assembly at a Ford facility overseas. An additional 47 cars were shipped to Ford’s assembly plant in Mexico City, where they were given serial numbers which included ‘MEX’ in place of the Dearborn Assembly Plant's “F” code. Of these 47, 6 have Fordomatic, 29 have overdrive, and 12 are three-speed versions. One car was imported fully built, probably to provide an example for assembly at the La Villa plant in Mexico City (Sources: Early Bird, Sep-Oct ’93, p. 25)

    1956 Additional Information: No breakdown of engine/transmission combinations has been found by VTCI Nine out of every ten hardtops sold were with the portholes installed. No cars were delivered from the factory with the 260 hp dual carburetor package- this was a dealer-installed accessory. Export: Of the 15,631 cars produced at the Dearborn Assembly Plant, 694 were exported as assembled units, and 90 were shipped “knocked down” for assembly at a Ford facility overseas. An additional 91 cars were shipped to Ford’s assembly plant in Mexico City, where they were given serial numbers which included ‘MEX’ in place of the Dearborn Assembly Plant's “F” code. Of these 91, 9 were built with 292/3speed, 33 with 312/Ford-O-Matic, and 49 with 312/Overdrive (Sources: Early Bird, Sep-Oct ’93, p. 25)

    1957 Additional Information: Export: Of the 21,380, 580 were exported, and an additional 72 were KD (“Knock-Down”) Mexican production figures for knocked down cars sent to La Villa plant are (engines unknown): Fordomatic 25 Overdrive 34 Total 59 Final production for 1957 is adjusted to 21,439 units to include Mexican cars. (Sources: Early Bird, Sep-Oct ’93, p. 25)

    It's very rare to run into one of the Mexican-assembled 'Birds. That one was found in the San Antonio area doesn't surprise me. With that being stated, the question of Mexican-built '55-'57s has not come to my attention in the 12+ years that the current OFS for '55-'57s has been in use. I'm not aware of any differences between the Mexican-assembled cars versus Dearborn-assembled export cars or others knocked-down for export and assembled at Ford plants overseas with exception of the unique VIN. Export cars typically had heavy-duty components, kilometer-gradiated speedometers where required, etc., and I'm not aware that any non-standard color combinations were offered unless the car was special-ordered or shipped in primer or a non-standard or non-Ford-offered color. The Concours Rules and the OFS do cover instances where a special-ordered color or trim can be verified by the data plate and other documentation to avoid a modification point deduction.

    Part of the reason why we ask for people to submit their VIN and data plate information with their registrations to VTCI Regional and International conventions is so that unique or unusual cars can be documented and identified by the Chief Judge, so that they can prepare for questions from the judging team. We also ask owners/registrants to have information available during the judging process to help document such unique conditions and educate judges to help them understand features that otherwise have not been documented. It is the responsibility of both judges and owners to thoroughly read the OFS and know where information is in preparation for judging. And should something fall through the cracks, an appeal process is in place to amend show-field tallies if it can be proven that an item that was scored incorrectly in terms of authenticity or use of factory-installed/designed components.

    If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

    Alan H. Tast, AIA, LEED AP Technical Director, Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l. http://www.vintagethunderbirdclub.net Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
    Last edited by YellowRose; April 10th, 2015, 12:40 AM.

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    The Terminator.....
    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

  • #2
    Very interesting article Ray, I had read about these cars in the Early Bird Magazine but the article in VTCI is more complete and detailed.

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    • #3
      '55-'57 Mexican Tbird Production History

      Federico owns two Babybirds assembled in Mexico and one from the US. Here is what he has said. I am leaving out the full serial number of them. I can tell you that all three of them are registered in John Rotella's Tbird Registry.

      "My '55 (owned since 1981) is P5MEXH1***** and my '56 (owned since 1979) is P6MEXH1*****, '57 (owned since 2000) is an Export model D7FH1***** that was shipped to Mexico since the '57. I have not seen '57 TBirds with P7MEX?, but I have not seen more than mine, I am sure there are."

      We know there were 197 Babybirds, '55-'57 assembled in the La Villa plant in Mexico City. Only 2 '55 Tbirds with the MEXH indicator have been registered in the Tbird Registry so far. Three that I know of for 1956, and only 5 for 1957. Hopefully, Babybird owners who do have Mexican assembled Tbirds will come forward and register them. We do not know how many out of those 197 are still with us.

      Federico, if you know of any other Babybirds in Mexico that were manufactured there, please see if you can get the owners to provide you with the VIN#'s so we can get them into the Tbird Registry for the historical record. Thanks!
      Last edited by YellowRose; July 8th, 2015, 09:43 PM. Reason: Additional Comment

      Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
      The Terminator.....
      Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

      https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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      • #4
        As a result of helping Todd ~ toddtutt search for a 1957 D Code 3spd OD Willow Green Babybird, I have come across additional information regarding the 197 1955-1957 Babybirds that were assembled in the La Villa Ford Plant in Mexico. Thanks to Dave Tulowitzky, of the 1955-1957 Babybird Registry, he provided me with this additional history. One of the things that he said was that ALL these 1957 Tbirds left their factory with the E7MEXH coding even though they did NOT have the "E" code engine in them... Here is a copy of the article he sent me. You can click on the picture and click again and it should bring it up in a more readable size...
        Last edited by YellowRose; April 13th, 2019, 11:47 AM.

        Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
        The Terminator.....
        Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

        https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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        • #5
          Dave Tulowitzky just sent me this correction regarding ALL 1957 Babybirds having been designated as E7MEXH Birds. Here is what he had to say and the graphic to back it up.

          "Ray, I stand corrected on all `57's being E7MEXH. We know that the last two built in Mexico had the "D" prefix. We do not know why and may never know.
          Last edited by YellowRose; April 12th, 2019, 09:33 PM.

          Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
          The Terminator.....
          Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

          https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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          • #6
            Here are three more interesting stories that Dave Tulowitzky sent me. They will give you a further insight into Mexican assembly of the 1955-1957 Babybirds!

            "Ray, here are three articles from the 1990's. Two were written by Ramon Rodriguez from Mexico City. Ramon attended the CTCI National Convention in Memphis with his car. He trailered it to the border in an enclosed trailer, then drove it from Texas to Memphis. Dave."

            Once you have clicked on a graphic to bring it up, if you need to read it better, click on it again. Thanks to Alan Tast, here on our Forum, Dave Tulowitzky, Joe Johnston here on our Forum, and Lance Herrington, (also a member of this Forum, but not to active here), of Thunderbirds Southwest for the information they provided...
            Last edited by YellowRose; April 12th, 2019, 09:38 PM.

            Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
            The Terminator.....
            Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

            https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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