The 1955 Ford Thunderbird was a game-changer

Sure, the Corvette set the stage, but the Thunderbird introduced the personal luxury car, a concept that has proven remarkably durable in the 50-odd years since its introduction. This lovely 1955 T-Bird shows you why these are such enduring favorites, and why no collection is complete without one today.

If you ask someone to close their eyes and think of a Thunderbird, this Torch Red roadster is quite likely what they’ll imagine. Beautifully proportioned, neatly styled, and with neat little details throughout that told the world that Ford was serious about their 2-seater. This one was restored a few years ago and has seen some use since then, but you really can’t go wrong with an early ‘Bird. The paint is bright, offering a depth and clarity that even the best finishes in 1955 couldn’t match, and while it shows a few nicks and bumps, none of it detracts from the pure ’50s fun this car represents. The ’55’s trim proportions, simple lines, and lack of extras make them a favorite among collectors, and it’s easy to see why. Body gaps are decent and the fender skirts fit flush with the quarter panels, indicative of a car that has never needed major surgery in that area. The chrome is nicely refinished, and those details I mentioned, including the hash marks on the fenders, the hood scoop, and jet-inspired taillights, are all in great shape.

Red and white is the theme inside, too, where you’ll find a neatly restored interior that has all the correct bells and whistles. The two-tone bench seat is supportive with firm foam under the supple seat cover, and better yet, it’s comfortable! Engine-turned panels sweep from the doors onto the dash, giving the ‘Bird a racy feel, and the execution is crisp and highly detailed. The gauges appear to be original pieces, a factory array that has been beloved for decades by T-Bird enthusiasts. An original AM radio is still in the factory slot, another testament to how well this Baby Bird has been respected through the years. And here’s an unusual fact: you could have either a folding convertible top or a removable hardtop at no cost, but getting both was extra, so the fac that this one carries both is very special, especially since the hardtop is a desirable porthole unit from a later model. The trunk is very spacious and offers a correct rubber mat and a full-size bias-ply spare, should you ever need it.

The only engine available in 1955 was a P-code 292 cubic inch “Y-block” V8, which when linked to an automatic transmission, makes 193 horsepower. Well-maintained and detailed since the car was restored, it fires easily and wears a proper Thunderbird dress-up kit that includes a chrome air cleaner and those gorgeous finned cast aluminum valve covers. Ford Red paint on the block still looks good and the unusual air cleaner makes use of the hood scoop for fresh air. Underneath, it’s extremely solid and clean, with body-colored floors framed by a black frame and a newer dual exhaust system that exits through the rear bumper guards. Beautiful 6.70-15 whitewall Firestone bias-plys have been fitted and wear full wheel covers that look appropriate.

Price: $42,995

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Location: La Vergne, Tennessee, United States