1957  Ford Thunderbird Albert from New York

Albert’s grandfather bought this Ford Thunderbird off the line in 1957. One of his favorite memories was when his grandpa picked him up from the Y.M.C.A. when he was around 5 years old. He was enjoying the feeling of riding in a fantastic-looking vehicle with the wind blowing through his hair when he looked over at his grandfather and thought to himself, "this is the best." At that moment, Albert fell in love with the car.

Unfortunately, these good times didn’t last. In 1974, Albert’s grandfather passed away. His dad contemplated getting rid of the car, but Albert, a teenager at the time, pleaded with him to keep it. Albert didn’t want to let go of the vehicle that represented all the fond memories and fun times he had cruising with grandpa. His dad relented and they kept the Thunderbird. They went for an occasional ride and Albert longed for the day he would get a chance to drive it himself. He didn't feel like this would ever happen, but he didn’t give up. Finally, his dad decided to let him get his hands on the wheel. Albert was on top of the world as he drove down the street in the '57 T-bird, seeing girls turning their heads as they rolled past.

Over the years, the car began to show some signs of wear, so Albert and his dad decided to take it to a restoration shop. Sadly, Albert didn’t realize what he was getting into as the car ended up in and out of the shop for years at a time during the restoration process, seemingly without any real progress. Albert felt defeated.

With a renewed passion, Albert decided that he wouldn't rest until the Thunderbird was restored to its former glory. The current condition of the vehicle did not properly represent the pride his family felt for the T-Bird, nor did it invoke all those fond memories of Albert's youth. The car hadn’t been running for 5 years, so Albert did some thorough research and found Joe Toe. Joe was a man known for doing amazing restoration work in Tennessee. Albert dropped off his Thunderbird in 2006 and got a call in July of 2007 to come see the progress. The vehicle was still undergoing work and was up on jacks with the keys in the ignition. Albert couldn't resist and asked Joe if he could give it a try. He hopped into the driver’s seat, turned the key and heard the beautiful sound of the engine. All the memories of the Thunderbird and his family came flooding back in an instant. It was a very emotional and meaningful moment for Albert.

Albert’s mother and father passed on, but not before they had the chance to share one last moment in the Thunderbird. Albert still has the photo. After the restoration was completed, the car was immaculate. Joe had done an amazing job. Albert still loves driving his family’s Thunderbird and does so with a sense of pride again. He now takes his grand-kids for rides and hopes to pass on the legacy to them.

Nominated by Joshua in Hagerty Sales Center