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25 Year Sleep: 1955 Ford Thunderbird

There are some cars that seemingly always look iconic. I put cars like this 1955 Ford Thunderbird on the list, even as they lay in a garage rotting away. The seller says this Thunderbird has been parked for over 25 years in a California garage and it’s obvious it will require total restoration. It still wears its California blue plates and indeed looks like it hasn’t turned a wheel in ages. Find it here on craigslist listed for $6,500 OBO, and .

The Thunderbird still looks graceful, even covered in years of dirt inside a ramshackle garage. The seller says the only significant rust is on the rear of the car, as that end was exposed through the back of the carport. I think I spot some flaking paint on the door, which may indicate a prior repaint of a lower quality. The hardtop is a desirable piece and looks straight.

There’s a removable roof is on eBay right now with an asking price of $1,900, so there’s some of the asking price if you’re forced to part this Thunderbird out. While I’m far from an expert in these cars, I believe the consensus is that the most desirable first-generation Thunderbird are those that were spec’d with the Y-Block V8, which came along in 1956 as an optional engine.

It’s hard to get a clear picture of just how far gone this ’55 is. Is the interior trashed? It might be. Is it rotten on the bottom? Seems like the odds are good. Dirt-floor storage is generally not ideal for vintage cars or anything without undercoating, so a brave soul will have to drag this T-Bird out to determine if this is a pile of parts or a restoration candidate.


  1. Daniel wright

    There are sticks and debris on the floor. Mice and other rodents have made a home in the interior. Consider the wiring to be gone.

    Like 10
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    One rough looking old bird there. Unfortunately it was not treated kindly and will take a lot of work to make it nice again. Can’t tell enough on whether this is a parts car at best or not.

    Like 9
  3. Steve R

    The seller is funny, they probably think it really has 31,000 original miles. It’s located on the coast, it’s been subjected to nightly ocean fog, cars in that area left outside rust as if they were dipped in salt water. This is nothing more than a $6,500 a parts car.

    Steve R

    Like 8
  4. TimM

    It seems to have been high and dry!! Though that doesn’t mean there isn’t rust!! I’d hate to see a car like this used for parts!!

    Like 3
  5. Ben T Spanner

    Well the one featured on 6/29 in Las Vegas sold for $20000. As I posted, there is what appears to be a nice example in Naples FL for $16,000, and yet another in Englewood FL for $17,500. Could today’s example be made as nice for $10,000? Only if the buyer supplies free labor, plus lots of space during the restoration. As always, buy the best example you can afford.

    Like 6
    • Ramone

      The car you mentioned from last month was a very nice example, and sold for what should be be considered top dollar. I commented on it, too and suggested that it was the right way to get into one of these terrific old cars.This car emphasizes my point. Even if this car was gifted to you, it would take more than 20 g to bring it up to the level of the previous car, or the ones suggested by Ben. This would have to be a labor of love. Buy a nice example, enjoy it immediately. They are a great value right now IMO.

      Like 0
  6. IkeyHeyman

    In the craigslist ad, the seller says: “The way it looks is the way we are selling it.” I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to get too close to it either.

    Like 6
  7. Don

    One note to add to the other comments, that hardtop is not a factory hardtop, it is an aftermarket top.

    Like 2
    • ccrvtt

      Absolutely the first thing I noticed, too. ’55’s came with a solid panel hardtop. Visibility was so bad that the porthole was introduced in 1956 and continued in ’57. I thought everybody knew that.

      Like 0
  8. OhU8one2

    Amos Minter

    Like 0
    • MrF

      …has left the building

      Like 2
      • Tom Bell

        That’s funny–had to google Ams Minter though.

        Like 1
  9. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Seems like the bottom is falling out on these cars, wasn’t to long ago they were going for $50k. Back in the 70’s a certain actress (Valerie Harper) drove her 57 t-bird to my brothers house to pick up her nephew, who was a good friend of my nephew in North Seattle. Her sister (Leah) lived in the same neighborhood. Just a tidbit from my past.
    God bless America

    Like 4
  10. MrF

    The 2 seat Thunderbirds were all y-blocks. I’m no expert but believe they were 292s, with the 312 becoming an option later.

    Like 3
    • kakerlak

      292 standard, 312 optional, beginning with the 1956 model year.

      Like 0
  11. DanaPointJohn

    Deep, deep, deep pockets to make this right. Not show quality, but drivable with an appealing appearance. Pass folks.

    Like 0
  12. zackman

    Maybe I don’t remember all that well after all these years, but having owned a ’56 for 42 years…. I thought the 55’s came with a 272ci and the 56’s with a 292ci if it had the 3-speed manual transmission (which mine had), and the 312ci if it was an automatic, and all of the 57’s came with the 312ci. I don’t believe it was an option. It was determined by the transmission you purchased it with…in 56 only. I don’t think the 292 was even available in the 57 model. It’s been so long ago that I even cared to study that material…. I could be completely bonkers at this point…
    Ask Amos… he knows for sure.

    Like 1
  13. don

    What a mess ! These cars never seemed to lose their popularity and value ; I’m amazed someone left this car to rot for so long

    Like 0
  14. Gaspumpchas

    These never really took off in value. Good luck with this one- that dirt floor is a killer, would a good luck by a pro.

    Like 0

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