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1956 Ford Thunderbird Barn Find


Whenever we have featured Thunderbirds in the past, the response has been underwhelming. We get the feeling that there are very few of you who actually like these old birds. We think we may have found one though that might convert a few of the none-believers. Take a look at the eBay auction where the bidding is at $6,500 and the reserve has been met.


This Thunderbird has the top engine option available for 1956. It is a 312 V8 and it put out 215 horsepower. Some owners had the dealer install dual carbs to squeeze out a little more power, but this one is not so equipped. The T-Bird was built in response to the Corvette and it was supposed to give Ford a sportier image, but it was just too luxury minded to do that.


One of the previous owners still thought this T-Bird was still sporty enough to attach a Hurst shifter to the 3-speed gearbox. They also had the smarts to remove the Continental kit from the rear bumper, as all that extra weight out back could cause some handling issues. Those changes helped, but that power bench seat worked against their sports car cause.


We like the looks of this car and even though it needs a full restoration, the rust doesn’t look too severe considering its east coast location. We also think the past caretaker’s subtle changes only make this one more desirable. But, would we always be kicking ourselves that we didn’t just spring for a supercharged ’57?


  1. George Member

    It is a ’56, although the bumper is wrong.

    T birds are not high performance cars, but very pleasant drivers, and one of the easiest classics to maintain, as almost all parts are available as good quality reproductions, and at affordable prices. You get lots of style for your money, and there is always a market for them.

    While you’re not going to win any vintage races, you’ll get more smiles per gallon than almost anything out there at a very reasonable price. It remains to be seen how values will hold up, along with other cars of the ’50s.

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  2. twwok

    Have always liked these and respect them for what they were/are. Surprised at the number of survivors out there and surprised how the values have held up.
    Guess people knew these were special cars and were always going to be from day one.
    I would rather buy one already done but thats just me.

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  3. Moepoe

    Seems like a lot of $ for a car that has a lot of “hair” on it….certainly the need for a new set of floors hurts the car’s value in my opinion. Given that it is not a running driving car, the buyer will not know how much work the engine, transmission, brakes, etc will require. Neat piece, nonetheless.

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  4. scot

    ~ been hooked on these since highschool.

    Like 2
  5. David

    I would consider this a performance car of the day. They actually did well in speed contests and put it to the early Vettes. Don’t forget the era and don’t forget what “turds” the first Vettes were……and I love all year Corvettes (except C-4s…;o) )…

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  6. Tom Stewart

    Always like the Thunderbird, especially the 57. Beautiful cars, one of the nicest production models produced, until McNamara killed it. If I didn’t already have a 67 Mustang, I’d go for one in a heartbeat…if I could find one I could afford.

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  7. fred

    Didn’t all 56’s have continental kits?

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    • Larry


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    • Jesse Mortensen

      Yep, but as we mentioned, this one has been removed. Having all that weight out back messed up the handling, so Ford moved the spare to the trunk in ’57.

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  8. Larry

    My dad bought a 1956 in 1962. what a great car. it was great growing up with one of these, I have owned a 1955, 56 and a 57. This car is pretty rusty. as for the cont. kit missing, that is a very bad thing if your going to restore it, very costly. this car has a lot of good parts but is missing way to many expensive parts, tops, fender skirts, window wings, sunvisors and so on. The seat is not the orig. fabric, not even close. As much as I love these cars I think this would make a great doner car or rod it. You’ll have more money in it then it’s worth. trust me I’ve been there.

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    • thom holley

      that’s why mine is still sitt’n, it’s a kit and the parts are just too much, everywhere you look, a thousand here, there, and everywhere!!!!!!!!!!! That’s why I never built it…………

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      • Leon Jenkins

        Read your quote on having a kit mustang and not finishing it because parts are so high. Would you let me know some thing about these kits because I was considering looking into building one. I have an awesome 302 and a Masda 5 sp. O.D. and two 3.70 rears from 50’s Ford pick up trucks that are the narrower rears for some kits.
        Thanks for your time and consideration, Leon

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  9. braktrcr

    I have a little alarm going off in my head about the engine. Ebay seller states the condition is unknown… but has details about minor ships in windshield, and details about the rust. ID plates have been cleaned off…It also says it has been at it’s present location “our shop” for the last two years. Who among us would not say “Hey lets see if that thing runs”

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    • braktrcr

      Just adding… I think it looks great without the Continental kit and the big front bumper.

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  10. Dolphin Member

    I’ve always admired the look of the early ‘Birds, and with the 312 they did OK in the context of the time, but look at the brochures and at the initial buyers and you will see that Ford aimed the ‘Bird squarely at the country club market, not the gearhead/performance market.

    I see these early ‘Birds as in the same niche, more or less, as the early C1 Corvettes up to about 1956/57, which made sense back then because Ford and GM were going head-to-head with them as their sporty 2-seaters. After that, Ford went even more in the country club direction with the 4-seat ‘Bird, and of course the rest of Corvette history is….history!

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  11. Barzini

    I love the vintage slot mag wheels and wish they never went out of style.

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  12. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    Sold for $6,000.

    Like 1
  13. Harold Estes

    Good buy. For under $20k, the buyer will have a great and beautiful driver. 👍

    Like 0

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