14k Original Miles: 1956 Ford Thunderbird

After taking the world by storm when launched in 1955, the 1956 model year was not as successful for the Ford Thunderbird. It marked the lowest sales total during the T-Bird’s two-seater era, but at 15,631 cars, it was well ahead of the Corvette’s 3,467. The two vehicles were aimed at different buyers, but history shows they tend to be compared due to their basic design similarities. This 1956 Thunderbird has been sitting for many years, but the owner has coaxed its engine back to life. That will leave the task of returning it to a roadworthy state to a new owner because it has been listed for sale here on eBay. The Thunderbird is located in Norwalk, Connecticut, and while spirited bidding has pushed the price to $17,600, it hasn’t taken it beyond the reserve. I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for spotting this classic for us.

It isn’t clear how long this Raven Black Thunderbird has spent hiding, but its overall condition suggests that the storage environment must have been pretty favorable. The paint isn’t perfect, but if the buyer wanted to return the vehicle to the road as an original survivor, I don’t doubt that it would pass muster. It would be interesting to treat the T-Bird to a buff and a polish because I think that the result would be worth the effort. The panels are straight, with no significant dings or dents. For potential buyers, the best piece of news revolves around this Ford’s rust, or more accurately, its lack of rust. There is nothing visible in the panels, while the underside shots reveal nothing beyond some surface corrosion. It appears that the car is structurally sound, with no immediate needs. The glass looks pretty respectable under its layer of dust, and the same seems true of the trim. Overall, it appears that returning this classic to a stunning visual state is something that the next owner could achieve in a few days in a home workshop for little money.

If this Thunderbird’s interior is original and unrestored, it could support the owner’s mileage claim. When you look beyond the fact that its Fiesta and White upholstery needs a thorough clean, it looks pretty nice. There is a fault with the driver’s door trim, but it seems like the next owner could stretch it into shape with no worries. The remaining upholstered surfaces show no evidence of stains or physical damage, and the carpet is equally impressive. The dash is clean, the gauge lenses are clear, and the plated components look like they would sparkle following some work with a high-quality polishing product. Further adding weight to the mileage claim is the lack of wear on the wheel. Once again, it looks like there is not much to do here beyond the regular cleaning tasks.

The engine bay of this T-Bird is occupied by a 292ci Y-Block V8 that should be capable of pumping out 202hp. That power needs to find its way to the road, and it does so via the rear wheels and a manual transmission. Ford was placing their marketing emphasis for this model more on luxury than performance, although a ¼-mile ET of 16.9 seconds was still considered respectable for the time. It isn’t clear whether the car is numbers-matching, but if the odometer reading is accurate, there is a better than even chance that it is. The owner claims a genuine odometer reading of 14,300 miles, but there’s no indication whether he holds verifying evidence. He has managed to coax the Y-Block back to life, and it starts at the first turn of the key. I don’t believe that it is currently roadworthy, so the buyer may need to have the car thoroughly inspected before they hit the road for the first time. If the drivetrain is in good health, this is another aspect of this classic that may not consume a lot of money.

It seems that some projects are more straightforward than others, and this 1956 Thunderbird appears to sit at the easier end of the scale. If the photos paint an accurate picture, it should take more time than money to have this classic shining like a new penny. That may also help to explain the strong bidding that has occurred so far. There have been a total of thirty-six submitted, although it is worth noting that it is getting down to the business end of proceedings. That means that if you find yourself attracted to this classic, you will need to act sooner rather than later. After all, he who hesitates is lost.


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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Gotta be a truckers T-bird!

    Like 3
    • A.G.

      Buck looks out of place on this car especially where he’s mounted on the hood.

      Like 4
  2. DRV

    I like the original non port hole hardtop for this one. I wonder how many of these tops added the window after production. Without rust problems, this one would be a great cleaned up original.

    Like 4
  3. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    I’ve always liked these original 2 seat T-Birds, particularly the 57. They’re nice to look at, IMO. This is one of the rare manual transmission Birds. Most were automatics. This issues with them for me are legion. I don’t like the hardtop-only approach. They have a fairly large trunk that could have easily accommodated a soft top and frame. I hate the continental tire set up (loved them as a teenager, but hate them as an adult). I believe that they have a very heavy X-frame that complicates things, and they weigh far more than a small vehicle should. I think that the best versions of these cars are the ones that get resto-modded with a new frame and suspension system. That’s just me.

    Like 3
    • Gord

      The convertible top is mounted on a swing bar that allows it to fold up behind the seat – no need to use trunk space. As for that heavy X-frame it’s saved many rusted Tbirds from falling apart which it’s why it’s so important to check all the body mounts on any early bird.

      Like 1
  4. Riffraff

    I’m sure the flex exhaust pipe is original Ford factory equipment as is the Mack bulldog hood scoop.

    Like 1
  5. Jack Quantrill

    Those continental kits are the pits. All That un sprung weight hanging off the back..

    Like 2
  6. Jack Quantrill

    Continental kit no good. Too much unsprung weight dangling off the back!

    Like 1
  7. lbpa18

    At 14K miles, this would have to be one of the lowest mileage T-Birds in existence. That would make it valuable by itself. But that would also take some verification of either maintenance records, or in this case a thorough inspection of areas that would wear if it was 114K instead. Nice cars though. The simple lines are pleasing, made more so once the continental kit was ditched.

    Like 1
  8. bobH Member

    Check the snow tires on the back. I’ll betcha it’s seen some winter salt.

  9. jwaltb

    3-speed manual? It would be nice to know-

  10. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Jack, everything on a car which is solidly attached to the body is resting on the springs.

    The only components which are “unsprung weight” are the wheels/tires. Some will include certain suspension pieces, axles, and brakes.

    Like 3
    • Jack Quantrill

      I stand corrected! Still, a lot of weight on the back.

      Like 3
  11. Roger

    There’s no door trim on this car and what kind of door trim stretches? What numbers match on a 56 Thunderbird?

  12. BigDoc987


    Like 1
  13. Robert Hagedorn

    I don’t understand why this car wasn’t detailed before posting the photos. Clean the engine too. It could have easily been presented at its best.

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