AJ’s Car of the Day: 1956 Ford Thunderbird

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1956 Ford Thunderbird

Car: Ford Thunderbird

Year: 1956

What makes it special: The first generation Ford Thunderbird was a two-seat convertible produced for the 1955 to 1957 model year, 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 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 U.S. While light weight 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 the 1956 model, more trunk space was added, the spare wheel was mounted outside to help free up trunk space. Exhausts were moved to the ends of the bumper, and air vents were added behind the front wheels to improve cabin ventilation. To improve rear-quarter visibility with the removable hardtop in place, “porthole” windows were available as a no-cost option. An optional 312 cu in Y-block V8 was added as an option. 

Why I would want one: Love the overall look and style. And personal car or not, a V8 in a lightweight means performance fun.

Fun fact: After the 1957 model year, it remained the only two-seat convertible Thunderbird until the eleventh-generation was unveiled in 2002.
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