Early Bird – 1955 Ford Thunderbird

T-bird manual original unrestoredOnce upon a time, Ford’s Thunderbird was a somewhat sporty machine in pretty much direct competition with Chevrolet’s Corvette. Alarmed by the response to GM’s sporty two-seater convertible in 1953, Ford rushed to produce something similar, but played more to the American desire for luxury and less to the desire for sportiness. Ford marketed it as a “personal car” rather than a true sports car in the European sense, and the T-Bird flogged the Corvette in sales for several years running. And even though it was heavy and luxurious, it was still no slouch with a 292 cubic inch V-8 that made just shy of 200 horsepower. The Thunderbird would get even more power for 1956 and 1957, but from 1958 on the Thunderbird got bigger, fatter, and less performance-oriented.

From the first year of the Thunderbird’s long life, this car, which is located in Hilmar, California, has aged better than plenty of vehicles half its age. Although it has been repainted recently, it is mostly original and seems to be exceedingly well cared for. According to the seller, everything works except for the clock and the tachometer needle (a new one is included in the sale). It is also one of the Thunderbirds fitted with a three-speed manual and electric overdrive, making this “personal car” at least a little bit sportier than the ones fitted with the Ford-O-Matic.

With over 16,000 sold, ’55 T-Birds are not rare or exceedingly valuable cars. They are, however, arguably one of the definitive American cars of the ’50s. Pictures or models of Thunderbirds have decorated diners from coast to coast, and this original car is as tempting a piece of Americana as any. It’s not a gleaming show car, but it’s one you can drive around in comfort, surely getting waves and thumbs up wherever you go. The asking price also seems appropriate, so it is well worth a look.

Check out the 1955 Ford Thunderbird here on eBay, where the “Buy It Now” price is set at $27,500, and the reserve is not yet met at $12,700.


  1. Stephen Swain says:

    “With over 16,00 sold, ’55 T-Birds are not rare”… . Is that 16,000? If so, that would be a large number. I still love the lines of the 55-57 T-Birds. From ’58 on, they turned into pigs, more’s the pity. There was a supercharged option in ’57, though, with either a 312 or 332 CID engine that went pretty fast.

  2. Stephen Swain says:

    According to Wikipedia, “The Thunderbird was revised for 1957 with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 became the Thunderbird’s standard engine, and now produced 245 horsepower (183 kW). Other, even more powerful versions of the 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 were available including one with two four-barrel Holley carburetors and another with a Paxton supercharger delivering 300 horsepower (220 kW). Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21,380 units for 1957, company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for 1958.”

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