Corvette’s Savior: ’55 Ford Thunderbird
Ford’s marketing department determined that there was a market for a two passenger personal car, and that Ford could sell 10,000 units per year. The new sporty car would be a halo car and draw more people into dealer showrooms. First year production exceeded the forecasts. The first generation T-birds were considered instant classics, and became cultural icons used in movies, advertising, and on television. In 1955 about 16,000 small Birds were sold. T-Birds had a small V-8 while the competition across town, the Corvette, had a straight 6. The ‘Vette wasn’t an instant succes and Chevy actually toyed with the idea of dropping it. But that would secede a segment to Ford and that just wasn’t going to happen. A Corvette V-8 appeared in a very short time. So the T’Bird actually help save the ‘Vette from extinction. Today’s Small Bird is really beautiful and in one of its most flattering 50s colors – Seafoam Green. It is a restored car with some reproduction parts but it has 2 neat things – the original drivetrain and A/C. Now our research shows that Ford did have factory air back then but NOT in the T’Bird until ’58. So this is either a recent addition or more likely a period dealer installed unit. Hey, if it works that’s a plus. The soft top is a little funky and the seller says it is a reproduction unit that works well but different than original. It will be down 90% of the time. The wire wheels, possibly real Kelsey-Hayes, are a nice bit of bling. Very few Thunderbirds in 1955 command huge numbers. The powertrain options were non-existant. The really rare ‘Birds came later when you could dial up some hot engine options. The range for a nice driver quality T’Bird is in the $30 grand area with #1 cars going for a little over $50. See the details at the eBay listing by clicking here.