Two years after Chevrolet began deliveries of its hot Motorama show car, the Corvette, Ford responded in 1955 with the Thunderbird. The 1955 Corvette and Thunderbird were both two-seaters based on production sedan components, but the similarity ended there. The Thunderbird was a sporty two-seater for cruising and personal transportation with no pretensions of being a sports car. That proved to be exactly what the market wanted and in 1955 Ford sold 16,155 Thunderbirds – that was 23 Thunderbirds for every Corvette built.
The 1956 Thunderbird was changed only in details from ’55, but Ford gave its two-seater a complete makeover for 1957 with a clean and open grille and extended rear fenders and trunk to accommodate the spare tire. The “high-canted fenders” of full size Fords (Ford’s term for the ‘57s angled tailfins), also appeared on the Thunderbird, nicely accenting the longer trunk and fenders. It was a classic design that boosted sales by a third from 1956.
Looking exceptionally sporty in Raven Black with a Colonial White removable porthole hardtop. This Thunderbird’s two-tone interior matches this color theme and is all set off by chromed Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels with spinners that are shod with radial whitewall tires. The rear fender skirts are with the car, but currently reside in the trunk. Running with a V-8 engine with the dress-up kit and a floor-shift automatic transmission; this T-Bird is a no power brakes, no power steering car that allows you the opportunity to experience a bit more of a “pure” early driving experience. Many of the smallest conveniences, now taken for granted, were considered extras and some exercised monetary restraint to truly “feel” the road and the pure mechanical characteristics of a well-designed automobile; such as this example.
There is a modern radio with cassette player, plus the spare, lug wrench and jack are in the trunk. This model has easily stood the test of time; from its earliest popularity, it has continued to grow in stature and is today recognized as a milestone in modern Detroit design.