I have listed common causes for rear tire to fender skirt rub, which tends
to favor the right side.
High mileage Thunderbirds with:
- Weak springs,1957 models should measure approx 27" from the ground to the
center of the tail lamp lens. 1955/56 models should measure approximately
24" from the center of the tail lamp to the ground. 1955/56 models are
less likely to rub and usually have more sever problems if they rub.
- Worn spring mount bolts and bushings.
- Worn anti squeak pads.
- Wrong wheels (max width from inside bead to bead 5") 1955/56/57
- Wrong wheels sometimes have the wrong off set, which moves the wheel
closer to the fender skirts. Refer to the restoration manual for proper
- Wrong tire size ( 6:70 x 15" for 1955/56, 7:50 x 14" 1957) the old 70
series are usually too wide and will rub. In addition if your Thunderbird
is equipped with 70 series tires they have exceeded their age limitation
and should be removed for safety reasons. Radials should be 205/75R15 for
1955/56 models and 205/75R14 for 1957 models, radials are also slightly
- Wrong fender skirts. The 1957 skirts will work on 1955/56 models. The
1955/56 skirts have a shorter locking arm and when installed on a 1957
model the end of the locking arm is closer to the side wall on 14" tires
and will rub.
- Body damage that has been repaired without regard to maintaining proper
clearance is a common cause for fender skirt rub.
- Spring pads to axle perches worn and U bolts loose allow the body to
shift when making turns. All models have approximately 1" clearance
between the tire and the inner skirt edge at the bottom rear with radial
tires. The rear axle cannot be moved enough to effect clearance. The
spring perches would have to be relocated. Not practical. The body can be
moved ever so slightly on the frame if all body mounts are loose. The
body will not usually shift enough to effect clearance.
- If after considering this information and making proper repairs and the
rub still exists, I suggest the following: (a) After the above repairs in
most cases rear sway bars properly installed will correct the problem. If
after all repairs have been completed and sway bars do not correct the
problem it is more than likely previous damage that was not properly