Body-off restoration completed in February of 2016
312 cubic inch Thunderbird V8
Ford-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission
All-original sheetmetal / Colonial White paint / Sale includes the car's hardtop
Factory power drum brakes
Sale includes: An original purchase contract / An original Title
Sale includes: Restoration photos / Restoration notes & receipts
Town and Country radio
Two cars literally defined the newfound freedom of the 1950s: the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford Thunderbird. Eventually Chevrolet took their Corvette to the racetrack, while Ford continued to turn their Thunderbird into the ultimate boulevard king. Now, over sixty years later, first generation Corvettes are cool, but first generation Thunderbirds are more endearing. If you're looking for a sweet 50s-era classic that's valuable, fun to drive and has the ability to turn Main Street into a parade route, RK Motors Charlotte is your kind of place. And if you want to be the star of that parade, this award-winning, largely-original Thunderbird, backing a hot 312 cubic inch V8 with a correct Ford-O-Matic 3-speed, is definitely your kind of classic!
Purchased by its most dedicated owner on January 1st, 1958, this largely-original T-bird was daily driven until sometime around 1973 when it was stashed in storage. No one really knows why that happened. But it probably wasn't due to mechanical failure, since the car's aforementioned owner also ran a respected auto repair business that was well known around the Greensboro, North Carolina area. At any rate, the owner began collecting spare Ford parts in preparation for a ground-up restoration. And that restoration began sometime in the early '80s, with a complete overhaul of the car's frame and drivetrain. Sadly, while restoring the car, the owner began to develop dementia and, naturally, the restoration was sidelined in the name of more important things. Fast-forward roughly 25 years to the Spring of 2015 when the Ford's current owner was notified of its inclusion in an estate sale. The current owner, having restored Thunderbirds in the past, was delighted to find a fantastic, rust-free project that merely needed finishing. And in February of 2016, this Thunderbird hit the road as a clean, body-off restored classic that wraps all-original sheetmetal around a roster of original components.
The Thunderbird was Ford's refined response to Chevrolet's crude Corvette. And when introduced in 1955, it outsold Chevy's newly minted halo by almost 24 to 1. Part of the reason for that big success was the car's versatile mix of American substance and European aesthetic. At the front of this 'bird, a stainless egg-crate grille rides between clean headlights, chrome-trimmed parking lamps, an intricate header emblem and a bulleted bumper that bends around peaked fenders. Between those fenders, a classy hood scoop leads the eye to a wraparound windshield that's reflected in a correct chrome mirror, cleared by polished stainless wipers and framed in thick chrome trim. At the top of that trim, a Colonial White hardtop latches down over a White soft top as a part of Ford's innovative dual-roof system. Below those roofs, sculpted door handles and stainless-trimmed fender skirts perfectly complement sedate louvers and flowing "Thunderbird" scripts. And at the back of the car, chrome-trimmed, jet-inspired taillights center an intricate trunk emblem above a second wraparound bumper.
Tilt this Ford's lightweight hood and you'll find a 312 cubic inch Thunderbird V8 that, fully rebuilt in the mid-80s, has been recently overhauled with fresh bearings and seals. Introduced in 1956, this stout little Y-block remained an option in blue oval staples well into the mid-70s. At the top of the bright orange mill, a functional hood scoop funnels wind into a mirrored and decaled air cleaner that's perched on a big Holley carburetor. Atomized octane passes through a color-keyed intake to correct, cast iron heads that are topped by polished and Thunderbird-branded valve covers. At the front of those covers, a rebuilt generator spins 12 volts of electricity beside a vintage AC fuel bowl and pliable FoMoCo hoses. Spark comes courtesy of a traditional points distributor, which sequences fire between a modern battery, a proven FoMoCo voltage regulator and fresh plug wires. From its glossy fenders to its chrome oil filler, this roadster's bay presents a clean, highly detailed appearance. And best of all, the spry engine fires instantly and sounds surprisingly beefy breathing through brash turbo mufflers and restored factory manifolds.
At the bottom of this Thunderbird, a fully sorted undercarriage houses solid floors that are bolted to a roster of proven components. Nice enough to show but still fully drivable, this is the perfect compromise for enthusiasts who like to display their car and still enjoy the occasional top-down weekend. Behind the aforementioned Y-block, an overhauled Ford-O-Matic 3-speed spins power to what appears to be a traditional Ford 9-inch. The car's suspension remains in its original configuration, with control arms up front and leafs out back. Turns come courtesy of lucid steering. Braking is quick and adequate thanks to power-assisted drums. All of the chassis' parts feature a weather-free appearance, reinforcing the idea that it's been a very long time since this 'bird's seen daily-driver duty. And on the outside of those parts, color-keyed wheels spin 205/75R14 American Classic whitewalls around white-trimmed center caps.
Colonial White paint is legendary for its characteristically upscale feel. And when paired with this Thunderbird's bright white roof and rich vinyl interior, it creates the perfect culmination of class and sophistication. Thanks to the car's quality restoration, its pleated bench seat is livable for years to come. There's tight carpet that, thanks to thick, color-keyed mats, features a fluffy red tint. Front and center, classy telemetry and a familiar Town and Country radio look great inside engine-turned bezels. In the middle of the floor, a chrome shifter feels both firm and precise. In front of the driver, a glossy steering wheel spins a chrome horn ring around a mirrored steering column. At the sides of the passengers, scuff-free door panels center perfectly placed armrests below pristine, engine-turned trim. And behind the soft top, a fully restored trunk centers a full-size spare tire between a fresh mat and old school jack.
Fresh out of the restoration shop, this Ford is already racking up some serious accolades. Here's a few of the car's most impressive honors:
First Place at the 2016 Zooland Region AACA Car Show in Asheboro, North Carolina
Outstanding Stock Production Auto at the 2016 Run for the Son Car Show in Archdale, North Carolina
Featured in the 2016 Matrix System Automotive Finishes calendar
OUR SALE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTATION AND ACCESSORIES
The car's original Handbook
An original purchase contract dating to January of 1958
An original Title dating to 1967
Vintage factory and aftermarket literature
Vintage restoration notes and receipts
Modern restoration receipts
Modern restoration photos
A copy of the car's feature in the 2016 Matrix System Automotive Finishes calendar
A few car show participation plaques
Trophies for the afo...for more information please contact the seller.
Pick of the Day driven less than 80,000 miles since new
Car is being sold because owner lost its indoor storage spot
This is the sixth vehicle in the 30-day Countdown to Barrett-Jackson’s 47th annual Scottsdale auction.
The “square-bird” four-seater models that replaced Ford’s iconic Thunderbird roadsters are considered the original “personal luxury” cars.
Barrett-Jackson auctioned off in Scottsdale the impeccable silver-gray 1956 Ford Thunderbird that the legendary Frank Sinatra drove around Palm Springs, California, when he was not off with the rest of the Rat Pack.
Strikingly elegant was the thought that popped to mind when this triple black 1966 Ford Thunderbird appeared as I clicked through candidates for Pick of the Day.
The first-generation two-seat Ford Thunderbird is always a favorite among classic and collector car owners, which sometimes leaves the second generation largely overlooked.
The Ford Thunderbird has gone through many iterations during its design and market focus.
After a visit to Europe in the early 1950s, Henry Ford II decided he wanted to build a two-seat, convertible sports car for the American public.