57 Tbird oil

Would Shell Rotella t-4… 15-40 be a good choice for my excellent condition 312cu stock engine for it’s oil changes.?

Probably, have you posted this on TBird forums? I bet oil recommendations have been discussed a number of times.

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I’d rather see a 10w30 for the winter

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You think that car is going to be driven in the winter?

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Back in 1957, multi-viscosity oils were just coming on the market. The Ford 312 engine had solid lifters as opposed to hydraulic tappets. I would guess that non-detergent straight weight oil was probably specified: 10W in the winter, 20W-20 in the late fall and early spring and 30 weight for the summer.
However, oils have changed drastically since 1957. I think full synthetic 10W-30 should be just fine.

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I think the OP’s oil question relates to the zinc compounds in the suggested oil, to preserve the cam and lifters.


Did you ever solve the engine missing problems that you wrote about in your other posts ?

That is very likely, and I have no idea whether that particular oil has the high levels of zinc and phosphorus that the OP’s engine needs. However, the oil formulated for the Hemmings folks does contain high levels of both zinc and phosphorus:



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Yes figured out to be vapor lock.



Because of the lifter design and the cost to replace lifters I would prefer 15W-40 oil myself. The 15W-40 does have a better EP component that is needed with flat tappets/lifters.

That car could be a beast to drive in city traffic. Is yours an automatic or manual and does it have power steering?

I can’t believe a 1957 Thunderbird would be that difficult to drive in traffic. I had a 1954 Buick that had a manual transmission and no power steering, and I drove the car in big city traffic. The steering ratio was much slower (more turns lock to lock) than today’s cars with power steering. I even negotiated my one ton 1950 Chevy pickup truck in city traffic.
One of the easiest cars to drive that we owned as a second car was my 1961 Corvair. It didn’t need power steering. With the engine in the rear, there was no weight over the front wheels.

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Most TBirds of that era that are still around have PS, PB, AT, and sometimes AC.

A lot of cars today have flat tappet lifters and do fine with modern oils. I think any quality 10w30 would do fine, synthetic maybe a little better. This is an open crankcase motor and the oil doesn’t run as hot as modern engines so some synthetics may have better anti-wear additives, but they don’t have the other advantages of thermal breakdown or staying cleaner. It will have to be changed according to the manufacturers recommendation at the time of manufacture. Could be every 1500 miles… Don’t forget to lube the chassis too with every oil change.

Nor did the Studebaker Larks of the early '60s!
I was privileged to drive the last Studebaker Lark in the State of NJ’s motor pool, but–sadly–my assignment was to drive it to Trenton in order to retire it. On the way to Trenton, I decided to pull into a parking lot so that I could lift the hood in order to check its equipment.

After driving many strip-o full-size Fords, Chevys, and Plymouths in our fleet, I had a hard time believing that the state had opted to buy a Studebaker that was equipped with power steering, and that had a V-8 under the hood.

When I lifted the hood, I found that it just had the standard OHV six, and that it did not have power steering. The discovery of how vastly superior this 5 year old Lark was to our brand-new Fords, Chevys, and Plymouths just made it even sadder that we had been ordered to retire that car.

The brand-new '67 Chevy that I drove back from Trenton had far less power than the 5 year old Stude, its handling was clearly inferior to that of the “old” Stude, and while it had power steering, it was no easier–or “faster” in its steering than the old Stude with non-power steering. The Chevy did–however–have better brakes.

@VDCdriver As an Indiana boy, I have a real fondness for Studebakers. I think Studebaker had Indiana values of using what was available to make something new. The Studebaker Lark, which came out in 1959 had a midsection that was from the sedan that came out in 1953. The Studebaker Hawk, that was a new model in 1956 was a restyling of the coupé that also came out in 1953.
I was in graduate school when my dad bought a new 1963 Studebaker Lark. It was a manual transmission with a V-8 engine. The engine was first introduced in the Studebaker in 1951. Interestingly, the manual for the 1963 Studebaker specified that non-detergent oil was to be used in the engine. The engine had solid tappets as opposed to hydraulic tappets, so detergent oil wasn’t needed.

I have driven 2 1956 T-birds. One had a 292 with automatic and power steering and was way to soft to steer the other was strictly manual and had the 312. Both were front end heavy and either would be great on a boulevard with the top off but visibility was difficult and while manual steering was very tough the power steering model was finger tip easy with near zero feedback. Like so many vehicles getting accustomed to them would improve things a great deal but I never drove either very far or very often and avoided traffic as much as possible in both.

But as always, to each his own.

@Rod_Knox. Many 1950s cars were front end heavy. The Ford engines, the 292 and 312 were heavy in comparison with the small block Chevrolet engines–the 265 cu in which was later increased in displacement to 283 cubic inches in the late 1950s.

And most of them had a marvelous AM radio that automatically adjusted the volume based on car speed.