292V-8 / AUTO
TELESCOPIC ADJ. STEERING WHEEL
The first generation of the Ford Thunderbird is a two-seat convertible that was produced by Ford for the 1955 to 1957 model years. The first 2-seat Ford since 1938, the Thunderbird was developed at nearly the same time as the Chevrolet Corvette. Rather than becoming a rival to the European sports cars imported into the United States, Ford created a completely new market segment around the Thunderbird, the personal luxury car. While a performance car in its own right, the Thunderbird focused more on comfort than speed.
Ford unveiled the Thunderbird at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. The first production car came off the line on September 9, 1954, and went on sale on October 22, 1954 as a 1955 model, and sold briskly; 3,500 orders were placed in the first ten days of sale. While only 10,000 were planned, 16,155 were sold in 1955.
As standard, the 1955 Ford Thunderbird included a removable fiberglass top; a fabric convertible top was an option, although commonly specified. The engine was a 292 Y-block V8, which got 18MPG. The car had fender skirts. The exhaust pipes exited through twin bumper guards, which are bolted to the rear bumper.
Created to act as a retort to the Chevrolet Corvette, it was also the first mass-produced edition of all the Ford Thunderbird models. A total of 53,166 units were produced for the three model years 1955-1957. It was produced with a Fordomatic automatic or manual overdrive transmissions, and featured four-way powered seats and pushbutton interior door handles. Other unique features were a telescoping steering wheel and a tachometer.
Equipped with a V8 engine, the Thunderbird could hit 110-120 mph. It was a smaller two-seat ''personal luxury car'', compared to many other much larger cars that were on the road in the 1950s. It was designed to be a brisk luxury touring car, and not a sports car.