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Many CTCI members are not aware that some Classic T-Bird service parts are still available through NAPA Auto Parts. The type of parts available are ignition points, condensers, bearings, gaskets, seals and engine rebuild parts to mention a few.
The NAPA on line catalog can be accessed at www.napaautoparts.com. On the home page left side you can select year make and model, then select Browse online store.
If you know the complete Ford part number, click on Parts PRO SE CATALOG then at the top of that page enter the known complete Ford part number no dashes or spaces, (example FAB12171B) click the interchange circle then the red arrow. It will convert the Ford number to a NAPA number along with the price. You can then order on line or take the number to your local NAPA store and they will order it for you or in some cases may have it in stock.
I recommend two publications that will give you the correct complete Ford part number for your year and model. Reprints of these publications can be purchased as a CD from CTCI (PN110-85 available through CTCI and may be ordered on-line from this site) or in Hard Copy from automotive book dealers and possibly some of the Thunderbird parts dealers.
Book # 1 is titled 1949-1959 FORD CAR PARTS AND ACCESSORIES ILLUSTRATIONS CATALOG (Photo 1). This book is part of the CTCI CD #110-85. It will not be necessary to have this catalog if you are only interested in locating 1955, 1956 and 1957 T-Bird parts. In that case, you must have a hard copy of the Thunderbird Illustrations & Reference Manual. (CTCI item number 110-52 available through CTCI and may be ordered on-line from this site).
BOOK # 2 is titled 1949-1959 FORD CAR PARTS AND ACCESSORIES TEXT CATALOG (Photo 2). This book is part of the CTCI CD #110-85. It is necessary to have this catalog to convert the basic Ford number to a complete part number with a prefix & suffix.
These two books (CTCI CD #110-85) work together to provide the correct complete FoMoCo part numbers that can be interchanged into NAPA part numbers.
I will not attempt to explain the FoMoCo parts numbering system because it is covered in the Restoration Manual pages 98 & 99 and on the CD.
The following is an example how to find the correct Ford part number using the 1949- 1959 Text and Illustration books.(CTCI CD #110-85)
Example, page 377 (Photo 3) in the Illustration shows a breakdown of the distributor. The basic part number for the ignition points is 12171. Once you have the basic part number go to the 1949-1959 Text Book. The basic part numbers are arranged numerically, you will find 12171 POINT SET ASSY on page 546; (Photo 4). Find the year (55/56) on the left side of the page. The next column over you will see two letters A and S. The letter "A" represents passenger car, the letter "S" represents Thunderbird. They both use the same ignition points. In the right hand column you will find the complete Ford part number for 1955/56 models (FAB12171B). Enter the complete Ford part number (no spaces or dashes) in the NAPA system (Parts PRO SE Catalog) click the interchange circle then the red arrow and it will give you the NAPA price and part number (ECH CS754).
Another book that is no longer in print is the NAPA OEM PART NUMBER INTERCHANGE. (Photo 5) You might find one at a NAPA parts store or possibly find one at a swap meet.
Below are a few examples of several hundred service parts that are still available from NAPA auto parts. They can be located through www.napaautoparts.com using the interchange Ford part number to NAPA number.