Although husband Gio had his Model A and ‘34 Ford street rods (what he calls his “adult toys”), Bev Giovanetti was never comfortable driving them. It wasn’t that she didn’t like classic cars, but petit Bev had trouble handling Gio’s cars. As Roamin Angels, they went on many cruises with the club and Bev was always riding shotgun.
Finally, in 2000 she decided to sell some stock in her retirement portfolio and buy a more active stock: a stock ‘57 T-Bird. She had loved the Baby Birds since her high school days. A few privileged kids at her school had owned them and Bev admired their sporty-yet-classy lines. They were smaller than the big boats of the mid-fifties and easier to handle, or more “friendly,” as Bev says. It was the perfect fit for her or, as she says, “the right size.”
When fellow Roamin Angel Don Day located a ‘57 T-Bird in Central California, Bev and Gio went to check it out. It was basically stock, with a 312 CID engine, Ford-O-Matic auto trans, power steering and brakes, both a hard top and soft top and fender skirts. It had a couple of extras that, while not factory, were nice to have: an AM/FM/Cassette radio and aftermarket air conditioning. The main problem was the white paint had a chalky appearance and it possibly would need to repainted. While not perfect, the T-Bird was in very good condition both body-wise and mechanically. Plus it was reasonably priced. So Bev bought it.
After Bev got her Baby Bird home, Gio’s son was able to buff out the paint, so a major expense was avoided Over the years, Bev has made a few changes to her car, but nothing to alter the appearance. The brakes were one, with fellow Roamin Angel Lanny Netz upgrading the single-reservoir master cylinder with all drum brakes to front discs with a dual-reservoir master cylinder. After seeing another Roamin Angel with a lighter, easier to use aftermarket soft top on a Baby Bird, Bev bought one. The “one gripe” Bev says she still has is the non-stock mauve interior that she hopes to replace with the original black and white stock “tuxedo” one.
Bev wanted her Bird to drive and since buying it she has. She and Gio have gone on club Mystery Tour cruises around NorCal and even on the longer ones organized by Roamin Angel Dick Teague. The first of Teague’s tours that she and Gio took the Bird on went all the way to Victoria, B.C. Due to a curvy road that slowed the caravan’s speed, the group pushed hard not to miss their reservations for the ferry to Victoria. Bev says they did make it, but “really had to hustle.” And her Baby Bird did very well. Although she says the steering wheel is “huge, like a Mac truck,” it did make the T-Bird easier to steer so that it handled the curves very well.
Sometimes the weather does not cooperate with cruise plans, like on Dick Teague’s cruise to a car show in Lake Havasu. It rained off and on, heavily at times, from when the group left Grass Valley until it got to Arizona. Pontoons might have worked better than tires. And the old cars do leak. One club member with a ‘57 T-Bird vainly taped plastic over the top of his car to keep it from filling with water. But Bev’s Bird leaked only a little, not enough to damage anything.
In the twelve years Bev and Gio have owned her Baby Bird, it has performed well, with no major breakdowns. They have racked up many, many miles over the years and hope to do more. It’s Bev’s baby, her Baby Bird.
Ford built the “Baby Birds” from 1955 until 1957. With its short fins and dropped front bumper, the ‘57 is unique.
Ron Cherry, former club member and past president, wrote a column over several years in the Union about vintage cars, their owners and the history of the vehicle. This story is one of those stories (circa early 2000’s). www.rlcherry.com