A magnum opus is an artist’s most important work. It is the work that truly defines that artist’s sensibilities and demonstrates his or her skill and craftsmanship at its best. This 1957 Ford Thunderbird F-code is Don Antilla’s magnum opus. It may be the most perfectly restored ’57 Thunderbird in existence.Don, who lives in Southbury, Connecticut, is truly an artist.
He has perfected his vision and craft for decades, with a string of immaculately restored Fords to show for it. For much of that time, Don’s been holding on to this car, waiting for when he could do it justice.It was not too distant (geographically and temporally) from the Three Mile Island incident, back in 1979, where and when Don acquired this car. It had already lived an eventful life as a hot rod and harbored a Corvette 283 in the engine bay.
Don knew his T-Birds, however, and recognized that the serial number, beginning with the letter F, indicated a car that had come from the factory equipped with the 300-hp, supercharged, 312-cu.in. Y-block V-8. (The other letters, incidentally, were C, for the base, 212-hp 292; D, for the 245-hp 312; and E, for the 270-hp, dual-quad 312. Ford also supplied racing kits for the E- and F-code engines, which would boost their power to 285 and 340 hp, respectively.)
That F in the serial number is actually how Don found the car to begin with. You see, back in those days, it was still possible to track down cars through various states’ departments of motor vehicles. Don spent a lot of time doing just that and, in the process, he says he also took the opportunity to document many F-code Thunderbirds “before they got taken apart for restoration.”