Car: Ford Thunderbird
What makes it special: The first generation Ford Thunderbird is a two-seat convertible produced for the 1955 to 1957 model year was also the first 2-seat Ford since 1938. It was developed in response to the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, which showed the Chevrolet Corvette. Dubbed a “personal car,” it built upon the heritage of the roadsters of the 1930’s yet was constructed largely of existing components, marking the first step toward the evolution of the personal luxury car as a mass market segment in the United States. Light weight for its era and fitted with a standard V8 engine, the Thunderbird focused more on driver comfort than speed, and was not a direct rival to either the Corvette or European sports cars.
What made it famous: For 1957 the front bumper was reshaped, the grille and tailfins were made larger, and larger tail-lights were fitted. The side “Thunderbird” script moved from the fins to the front fenders. A new option was “Dial-o-Matic” 4-way power seats that would move rearward when the ignition was turned off to allow easier exit and entry. In addition to the standard 292 and optional 312 engines, higher performance versions of the 312 were offered, including two with a 4-barrel Holley carburetor McCulloch/Paxton centrifugal superchargers rated at 300 hp @ 4800 rpm with a maximum torque of 439 lb⋅ft @ 2600 rpm, and 340 hp respectively.
Why I would want one: It’s one of the most iconic Fords ever made, and Ford’s only two-seater personal luxury car.
Fun fact: It remained the only two-seat convertible Thunderbird until the eleventh-generation was unveiled in 2002.