In 1955 Ford Motor Company introduced the Thunderbird, a vehicle that is credited with creating the personal luxury car genre. Over the next 50 years, Ford used the Thunderbird as the model of choice to “chase the market” of where customer’s tastes were moving. The evolution took several forms, including a brief period as a four-door sedan, before the final incarnation as a two-seat roadster that evoked comparisons to the first-generation cars.
Many folks assume that Ford developed the Thunderbird as a result of Chevrolet introducing the Corvette for the 1953 model year. While there is obviously some truth to that statement, Ford officials upped the ante by positioning their vehicle as a personal luxury car as opposed to an American answer to the European sports cars that the Corvette competed for market share with. The company described the car as “a personal car of distinction” and emphasize luxury and comfort over performance, although the lightweight V8 powered car held its’ own against the sports car competition.
Ford’s marketing department forecast for the 1955 Thunderbird was to sell 10,000 units, something many felt was an ambitious estimate when contrasted to introductory-year Corvette sales of only 315 units and second-year sales totals of just over 3,500 cars. The 1955 model sales figures were aided somewhat by the fact the 1956 models had a late introduction because of some design change delays, Ford said over 16,000 Thunderbird in the introductory year.
The new car featured a standard removeable hardtop with a convertible top being an often-ordered option. The car featured body-on-frame construction with a steel body and all T-birds were outfitted with a 292 cubic inch powerplant rated at just under 200 horsepower. Transmission choices included a three-speed manual or a two-speed automatic, both floor-shifted.
Ford responded to customer’s comments about a lack of storage space in the truck because of the spare tire and a passenger compartment that was too warm in the summer by relocating the spare tire to a carrier mounted on the rear bumper and adding fins to the front fenders directing air into the passenger compartment. Issues with the rear bumper tire carrier design caused the introduction of the 1956 model year cars to be pushed back to Nov. 9, 1955.
Complaints about blind spots created by the hardtop were addressed by offering a porthole top option at no additional cost. Mechanically, all 1956 Thunderbirds had a 12-volt electrical system and additional engine and transmission options. The 292 cubic inch engine, now rated at 202 horsepower, remained the standard powerplant for cars with the three-speed manual while cars with the three-speed manual with overdrive and automatic transmission cars getting the new 312 cubic inch engine as standard equipment.
As a result of the late model year introduction, the 1956 Thunderbird is the most rare of the first-generation “Baby Birds” with 15,631 units passing through dealer showrooms.
This particular 1956 Thunderbird is an excellent example of an original car with the odometer showing just over 61,000 miles. (While we believe the mileage shown to be correct, in accordance with Missouri statutes regulating car dealers, vehicles over 10 years old are sold as “mileage exempt”.) The car was built on January 16, 1956 at the Dearborn, MI assembly plant and carries the proper P-code 312 cubic inch engine for the automatic transmission. Both the body and hardtop are finished in Fiesta Red (paint code 40A) with the correct red and white interior (trim code XB). There are a few very minor issues with the finish and interior which would be expected from an original car from this era. Additional options include power brakes, padded dash and instrument panel and Town and Country radio. The car presents very well and would be a great car for local and regional car shows and tours.
Evergreen Digital Showroom offers this 1956 Ford Thunderbird for $49,900 USD. This car has spent the past 10 year in the portfolio of the current owner and kept in a humidity-controlled environment. Pre-purchase inspections are welcomed and encouraged. We can assist the buyer with transportation, at buyer’s expense, or will work with any shipping arrangements made by the buyer. Financing may be available to qualified applicants with details found on our website’s financing tab at www.evergreendigitalshowroom.com. To discuss this car further or to make an offer, contact sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000.
Because of the number of vehicles we represent we cannot drive every vehicle for long distances. These vehicles have been part of static displays for long periods of time, in some cases for decades, and are subject to the flaws and imperfections consistent with that. While we do our best to disclose all issues we known about a vehicle in our advertising, these are old cars and something that has always worked in the past might not function properly today. Please check the requirements of your state regarding the licensing and registration of classic vehicles and make sure the vehicle you are looking at meets those if applicable. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom possess a clean (non-branded) title which will be provided the new buyer when purchase funds clear our financial institution. Virtually all our vehicles are sold as mileage exempt due to their age. We do not warranty any vehicle, nor any part of the vehicle including air conditioning systems, brake systems, electrical systems and gauges, fuel systems, accessories or powertrain components.
These are old vehicles and it is very common for them to require certain maintenance and upkeep for them to be operational. In many cases issues with leaks may develop when being driven after a long period of not being used. This is common, as classic cars at some point will leak fluids. For this reason, we do not encourage buyers to attempt driving their purchase home as we cannot guarantee functional reliability of these vehicles. We strongly encourage prospective buyers to be sure they are comfortable with these issues before purchasing a classic car.
Descriptions of vehicles represented by Evergreen Digital Showroom are intended to be informational in nature and do not in any way constitute any sort of warranty, expressed or implied. Again, these vehicles are presented “as-is, where-is” without guarantee or warranty. Vehicles manufactured prior to 1981 will likely not be included in the databases of companies such as CarFax and AutoCheck that provide vehicle history information to consumers. If you have specific questions regarding a vehicle we urge you to contact us at 417-532-8000.