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  #1  
Old 12-16-2012, 10:20 PM
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Default Conny's ~ raggarn61 '58 430 Convertible!

You should find this very interesting! Conny is a brand new member to the Forum, and it surprised me when he said that he was the owner of a '58 Tbird Convertible with a 430MEL engine! So I assumed that someone had put a 430MEL engine in it after it left the production line. Now I know that there are no records of a '58 Tbird ever coming off the Wixom production line with a 430MEL engine in it. They were planning on having one, because there is a '58 advertising brochure they put out that listed the 430MEL as an optional engine for the '58 Tbird. However, that never came about for what ever reasons. So this got me involved in a conversation with him and with John Rotella of the Tbird Registry.

It turns out that John knows about this '58 prototype '58 Tbird 430 Convertible! He has it registered in his Registry, but had lost contact with it until Conny reported that he now owned it. There were TWO '58 Tbirds reported to have had 430MEL engines installed in them. John told Conny about the article in William Wonder's Thunderbird Restoration Guide 1958-1966. On Page 27 it states that back in 1958 Motor Trend magazine test drove a prototype '58 Hardtop with the 430MEL engine in it. The article states that no examples like this were thought to be sold to the general public. No mention was made as to what happened to that car. The 430MEL engine option did not appear on the Tbird production line until the 1959 model year. However, they were being put into the Lincolns which also were produced on the Wixom line.

The next statement in that article is the grabber! "However, one convertible, VIN #H8YJ129793, (My addition - Build date of 08H- 8 August - Data Plate 76A - E - XG - 08H - 4 - axle 1) is reported to have been equipped with the 430. This engineering prototype had the engine installed in the car AFTER (emphasis mine) leaving the assembly line." The VIN # on Conny's car has that VIN # on the Data Plate and the car is Corinthian White with the Red & White interior! To me, that plate looks to be the OEM plate. Here is what I know about that car. Conny found it in California, where, if I understand this, it sat for about 30 years. He bought it in February this year and had it shipped to Sweden. He had the engine restored in the States, and then shipped to him, along with new bumpers and other new parts for the restoration process. The engine is in the container with these new parts.

John Rotella has this Tbird in his Tbird Registry, as # 1393.
http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...tryNumber=1393
It was entered into the registry over 10 years ago.

Dave Dare~simplyconnected, tells me that, apparently the Engineering Division needed a '58 Tbird to use to make the necessary changes to so that the engine bay would accept the 430MEL engine. So they took a completed '58 (with the 352 engine of course and the H8 coded Data Plate) from the production line, took it to their Engineering facility and made the necessary changes to it required for the 430MEL engine install that they were planning for the 1958, 1959, 1960 Squarebirds. After making the changes, they did not change the Data Plate, but left it with the original one. What we do not know is if, while they had it, they swapped the PBU-L 352 tranny for the PBB-M 430MEL tranny and the 3.10:1 352 axle for the 2.91:1 430MEL axle. These are things that Conny is going to check when he gets a chance to get it up on a lift and look for the tranny and axle tags. Also start checking codes on the block, headers, intakes, etc.. Right now, it has no engine in the car. I do not know if the tranny is in it still. Dave suggests that they just might have left the production line tranny and axle as they were when the car came off the line. What happened to this car after Engineering had completed their work on it we do not know. Dave says it was probably driven and tested for awhile, making sure everything was working correctly before they went into full production on this combination for the '59 Tbird. After that, it might have been sold to a dealer or a private individual. We do know that somewhere along the way, it ended up in California and has sat there amongst several Bulletbirds for at least the last 30 years.

I have asked Conny if he can provide us with any other information regarding past owners, the company he bought it from, etc.. It does appear, according to Bill Van Ess, and John Rotella, that Conny does own that prototype Tbird. There does not seem to have been any hanky panky with that Data Plate. I will post some pix of it. Conny, hopefully, will be posting up in the Squarebirds Forum, as he needs help in restoring it. Here are the pix and I will probably have to do more than one post. In the very first picture, look down the left side of the Tbird and you will see the noses of 3 Bulletbirds sticking out! It was much easier to see in the big picture he sent me, but you can still see them here.
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2012, 10:26 PM
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Default More Pix

Here are the additional pix. I have no pix of the engine.
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2012, 02:27 AM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

I just posted a lot of information and pix of the '58 430MEL Tbird Convertible of Conny, in Sweden, in the Our Rides Forum. Conny is working on gathering parts to restore this rare Tbird. One of the things I am wondering about regarding this Tbird that was used as the prototype to engineer the engine bay for the 430MEL engines to be put in the '59/'60 Tbirds, is if they also changed out the 352 PBL-U tranny to the PBB-M 430 tranny, and the 352 3.10:1 axle to the 430 2.91:1 axle. The Data Plate does not indicate that, just what it had in it when Engineering took it from production after it came off the line.

I have suggested to Conny that if he wants to find that out that he inspect, when he can, the tranny to determine if it has the tranny tag on it still and if so, which one. That will tell him if they swapped out the tranny for the 430 PBB-M, or left the 352 tranny on the car. Same for the pumpkin. If the tags are in place. The tranny tag is located on the left (drivers side) of the case as shown in the picture attached. It should say something like PBB-7003-M or something like that for the 430 COM. If it says PBL-U or something similar to that, it is a 352 COM.

The other thing he should check is the date codes on the 430MEL block just to be sure that it is the engine that was on the car when it left the plant. That code should have a date sometime prior to 8 August, 1958, the date it was scheduled for production. If it has a date later than that, then that would seem to indicate that someone put that 430MEL engine in the car AFTER it came off the line. Especially if the date codes are some months or some years later than the Schedule or Build date. However, according to the Thunderbird Restoration Guide, 1958-1966 Page #27, the VIN # listed there as having the 430MEL engine installed in it, IS the same VIN # on Conny's Tbird. If you want to double check that VIN #, you can also find it engraved in the engine bay frame. I including that also. With the engine out of the bay, you should be able to find the location of the stamped VIN # on the frame. It should be identical to what is on the Data Plate. If it is, that confirms what the Data Plate says and the book says about your Tbird. If it is not... Then someone has been playing games with that Tbird before you got it...

To help Conny locate these codes, I will post some pix for him to go by. The code for the 430 engine block is located on the left hand side of the engine (drivers side) in front of the left hand cylinder head. Conny the picture will show the assembly date codes breakdown. The first figure is the Plant which built the engine. The second figure is the Year code and on your engine it should read a 7 or an 8, indicating the engine was built in 1957 or 1958. If it says a 9 or a 0, I would think that would indicate that engine was installed in that car some time AFTER it left Wixom. The third figure is the Month, and it should read as a 1 through 8. After that, would indicate that it was made after August. The fourth number would give you the actual day it was built.

If the tag is still on the rear axle pumpkin, if it is a 352 gear set up it should say 3.10:1. If it was changed for a 430 engine, it should say 2.91.1.

Here are the pix that I found for you Conny to go by when you get a chance to check the codes.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 430BlockAssemblyDateCodes-N-Location.jpg (71.0 KB, 123 views)
File Type: jpg TrannySerialNumberPlateLocation.jpg (55.6 KB, 124 views)
File Type: jpg 430TrannyID-Plate-PBB-7003-M.jpg (20.7 KB, 122 views)
File Type: jpg '59430COM-BellhousingPBB 7976B B8E 7975-B.jpg (18.3 KB, 124 views)
File Type: jpg RearAxleGearRatioTagLocation.jpg (11.6 KB, 123 views)
File Type: jpg VIN NumberLocations.jpg (63.1 KB, 125 views)
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  #4  
Old 12-17-2012, 08:37 AM
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If you ( Conny ) contact me, ( see New Menbers Welcoming ) I can guide you to one Birdfriend who ownes, and knows A LOT about the 430 Engine here in Sweden.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2012, 03:51 PM
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Welcome to the site Conny!!

This sounds like it will be an interesting thread to follow. I'll get my popcorn ready...


-Jon in TX.
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  #6  
Old 12-18-2012, 06:32 PM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

Conny has replied to me and I will paraphrase what he had to say here. I have suggested that when he can, he check the 430MEL engine and tranny codes to see when the engine was built and which tranny he has. Also that he check the VIN # on the engine bay frame to make sure it is the same as the one on the data plate. Here is what he said about how he found this Tbird.

"I was transferred to San Francisco in February this year and went around to look for a ford convertible. When I was 16, I bought the first Mustang -66ht then. When we came to this place, I knew my friend had some Fords, but not so many at first. I was interested in a black T-bird -59 Convertible with 430 but after that walked around and looked, I asked what was under the plastic further on. He said that it was a T-bird -58 convertible but half worn condition, I looked through the car and saw that there was no rust but most dirty and it seems that it had been a long time over 30 years, he explained. I went back to Sweden and checked how many there were 58 convertible and I got a message that there are probably just over 100 left. I decided to buy the car, took the first plane back and bought the car . I decided to buy up most of the car parts that I needed and take the opportunity to refurbish the engine in the USA, it is cheaper than in Sweden. Now when the car is at home in my garage in Sweden so I thought it would be funny to register the car in a T-birds page just to see how many -58 convertibles there are around the world. Then I was told that this car has a special story, I think this is fun for me, it's like buying a lottery ticket and won. I've always wanted a T-bird -58 -59-60 convertible and now I have one and I am going to renovate in a good condition and go to one of the world's biggest car exhibition Power Meet located in Västerås 30 miles from me. (Comment by Ray. Anders has told me this summer event in Vasteras draws some 10,000 cars!) I will inform and send cards to you every since I renovate the T-Bird. I do not know if there is something special more value in this car than any other T-bird -58 convertible but if there's any clue it would be interesting and know where the pricing is. I've talked to the man I bought the car and he's a bit concerned about anyone knowing his location or wants me talk about his T-birds he has. But I can reveal that he has around 15-20 cars, 5-6 -58 to - 60 and 10-15 -61 to -65. I will tell you that day he thinks it's ok to visit him. Have a good one Ray. I'm glad you guys are so helpful to me. Once again, Thanks, Conny."
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Old 12-18-2012, 07:19 PM
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[QUOTEit's like buying a lottery ticket and won][/quote]

I think we all have to agree!!!!

Its always good to hear a special vehicle like this has a new owner that will preserve it!
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Old 12-19-2012, 05:32 AM
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Conny called me this morning, and I will help him as mucha s possible with how I fixed my rear axle travel, and also with contacts with other Birders here. He seems to go all in, as he have ordered A LOT of parts already and as Ray mentioned, send bumpers to chrome in US as well as haveing th engine restored. There is plenty of money to be saved that way. Have in mind gentlemen, that everything is half or a third price in USA compair to here. Clever move. He also said he know someone in US who have the original white cellulosa paint, so it will be very exciting to see this babe in her former glory later on.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:34 PM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

I just got an email from Conny and a number of pictures of his VIN # on the engine bay frame. It DOES match the VIN # on the Data Plate. So as far as I am concerned, he has the real deal, THE prototype '58 Tbird with the 430MEL engine in it that was used to engineer the '59/'60 engine bays for the 430MEL engine! I will post a picture of the VIN #, but first here is what Conny had to say. I cleaned up his text a bit.

"Hello Ray I've been down to the garage and looking for "the" Vin # in the frame until it was over on the left frame legs, I had no idea it "was" without you told it. But it looks like it has stamped the whole number 2 times. I have a question about the last card in the odd-numbered patch that sat in the driver's seat what is the number? Now you look carefully at the photographs and hope it's the right number on the frame the same as the Vin plate. Have phoned Anders in Gothenburg and we'll call each other this weekend and talk further. Have a good one Ray. Talk to you again Conny S"

I asked Dave about that frame member being stamped on it twice. He said they did not stamp them but actually engraved them into the frames. I gather the first engraving was light, as you can see by the bottom one, so they must have engraved it in again to be sure it could be seen. I should have suggested that Conny clean off that area really good before he took pix of it, but you can see that it does match the Data Plate VIN #.

The question he asked me about that BAP tag, is an interior tag of some type that is probably a vendor tag. I found one like that with a BAP number like that, hog ringed to the back rest of the back seat when we were putting in the new interior in my '59 Tbird.

Sooo, it looks like we can put to rest any doubt about this being the real deal. The engine bay VIN # confirms it. I am glad to hear that Anders and Conny have been talking and will some more. Anders can be a great help to Conny in advising him on restoring this Tbird and getting it back on the road! Thanks, Anders.

Here is one of the VIN # pix. You can see the lighter bottom number much better on the big pics that Conny sent me. I had to downsize it to get it on the Forum. I decided to crop a big pic and just get a close up of the VIN # so you can see it better.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Conny'58Tbird430MELConv-EngineBayVIN-NrH8YJ129793.jpg (69.6 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1032-2.jpg (43.8 KB, 104 views)
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  #10  
Old 12-20-2012, 01:59 AM
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Default The 1958 Squarebird Marketing Brochure W/430MEL Engine

One of the things that I found interesting regarding the Motor Trend report in William Wonder's Thunderbird Restoration Guide, 1958-1966 is that no 1958 Tbirds ever went into production with the 430MEL engine in them. I have been aware for some time that Ford was planning on marketing the 1958 Tbird with the 430MEL engine, as borne out by their 1958 Marketing Brochure put out in March, 1958! In that brochure, they list the 430MEL engine and tout it as an optional engine for the 1958 Tbird. However, as we all know, for whatever reasons that we will probably never learn, they did not get it done. It was not until August, 1958 at the end of that production run when Engineering picked up that 352 equipped '58 Tbird Convertible from the Production line and started the process of fitting the 430MEL engine into the Squarebird engine bay. It was not until sometime in the 1959 Squarebird production run that the 430MEL was offered in limited numbers. I do not know that date.

Here is what I really find puzzling. This just dawned on me, after re-reading the Wonder article. Some time before August, 1958 someone had figured out how to install a 430MEL engine in a '58 Hardtop! This would have been sometime before April, 1958 because of the following report. According to the Wonder book, Motor Trend magazine reported in their April 1958 edition that they road tested a 1958 Hardtop Tbird with the 430MEL engine in it! If Engineering already knew what modifications to make to the engine bay to put that 430MEL engine into that Hardtop they provided Motor Trends to test, why did they need a convertible as a prototype to modify? Another question I have is did they test that Tbird with the 352 or the 430MEL tranny and axle gears? Does anyone have that copy? If so, can you check to see if they provided the VIN # for that Tbird, as was reported for Conny's Tbird? Does it state which tranny and axle gears they had on the car? Somewhere that Tbird might still be out there, as Conny's was, or it might have been crushed. It would be good to know and if we could locate that Tbird that would really be special.

Here is a link to a copy of that marketing brochure which John Rotella of the Love Fords Forum and the Tbird Registry (and a member of this Forum) emailed me a copy of the brochure to share with ya'll. It is in .pdf format. You can right click on it to save it and print it out if you want to.

http://www.squarebirds.org/SB/1958Tb...258-engine.pdf
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Last edited by YellowRose : 12-20-2012 at 02:17 AM.
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