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66k Original Miles: 1955 Ford Thunderbird

The Ford Motor Company has a history of creating market sectors. The Model T is often considered the first “people’s car,” with the Mustang credited, rightly or wrongly, as the first pony car. It created another in 1955 when it launched the Thunderbird, giving the buying public the first Personal Luxury Car. This T-Bird is from the initial production year, and finding anything to criticize about its condition and presentation is virtually impossible. It has no apparent needs and would suit an enthusiast seeking immediate classic motoring gratification. The seller has listed the Ford here on eBay in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Bidding has raced beyond the reserve to $23,000 due to intense interest and action.

The launch of the Thunderbird in 1955 initially brought buyers the choice of three paint shades, with a further two added to the palette later that year. The original owner ordered this beauty in Raven Black with a matching soft-top and correct “porthole” hardtop. The car’s history is unclear, although the spotless presentation suggests that it may recently have emerged from a restoration. The paint is mirror-shiny and seemingly flawless. Any imperfections fail to show in the supplied photos, while the panels are laser-straight and free from bumps and bruises. It can’t spot any apparent rust, and the sole underside shot shows nothing beyond the occasional spot of surface corrosion. The top fits as tight as a drum, and the tinted glass is spotless. The trim and chrome appear virtually perfect, and the wire wheel covers and whitewalls provide the ideal finishing touch.

Ford didn’t go overboard with T-Bird paint and trim choices, limiting the latter to four for 1955. This car features Code XA Black and White, and its presentation is as impressive as the rest of the vehicle. There are no signs of wear or damage and little indication that the car has seen active service. The condition further hardens my belief that this car has recently undergone restoration. The wheel is one of the more prone areas, with the rim often exhibiting wear. This one is in as-new condition, with no cracks or other problems. The bright trim shines as beautifully as the paint, and the dash looks stunning. Ford labeled the Thunderbird a Personal Luxury Car, but a single glance confirms it isn’t highly equipped by modern standards. However, the four-way power seat, AM radio, and clock scored points with buyers in 1955.

One secret of the Thunderbird’s early success was Ford’s decision to follow the simplest approach possible. Buyers could power their new 1955 T-Bird with a 292ci V8…or a 292ci V8. Although the company considered both engines equal, buyers ordering their purchase with an automatic transmission received marginally more power and torque. This classic falls into that category, with its self-shifter and power steering further cementing its luxury credentials. The driver will have 198hp and 285 ft/lbs of torque at their disposal. The company focused on luxury, although this car’s ability to cover the ¼-mile in 17.2 seconds off the showroom floor would have been viewed favorably. The engine bay leaves me torn because there are a few contradictions. The overall appearance is positive, but there is messy wiring requiring attention if this classic is going to cause jaws to drop when the hood is opened. The seller doesn’t indicate whether the vehicle is numbers-matching. However, the fact it retains its six-volt electrical system suggests that any restoration work prioritized originality. The T-Bird runs and drives well, with a claimed (but unverified) 66,000 miles on the clock.

I can’t hide my admiration for this 1955 Thunderbird, and under different circumstances, I would consider parking it in my garage. However, I would face stiff opposition because the car has received thirty-two bids with plenty of time left in the auction. The fact it has exceeded the reserve means a new home is only a few days away, but are you tempted to join the bidding war to make it yours? I wish you luck if you do.


  1. Jay E. Member

    Some cars look better than others in certain colors, the T bird looks best in black! This is a beautiful car.

    Like 8
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    That is as good as it gets!

    Like 6
  3. Maggy

    Nice car.Seems inexpensive to me.Bet there will be a rush of bids at the end.Great summer cruiser . Oregon cars are generally very solid.

    Like 3
  4. Carnut

    Baby Birds are inexpensive and smart buyers will buy the best example they can find. Ford parts are not cheap, restoring one will cost more then the cars value. Don’t believe me, go to any Ford Thunderbird shop and look up prices on parts and or call around to see how much a great body and paint job will cost and then the cost of glass, rubber chrome and upholstery. Baby Birds are a fantastic deal for buyers, sellers not so much.

    Like 4
    • Jon.in.Chico

      Had two ’55s in the mid-’70s, both manual … try finding a horn ring or a rear window trim clasp …

      Like 1
  5. jwh14580

    I am concerned about your statement: “…. correct “porthole” hardtop”.

    If memory serves me, the porthole was added (based on customer feedback about visibility?) in 1956. I have been told that many of the 1955 owners had portholes put in their hardtops after the fact).

    I never owned one, but had a couple of friends, one with a 55 (no porthole), one with a 57 (porthole).

    Just looking to fill in my memory!

    Nice car

    Like 6
    • Tiger66

      You are right. No ’55s had the portholes from the factory. Some owners added them later. IIRC, there was an aftermarket conversion kit that added them.

      The ’56 and ’57 hardtops could be had with or without the portholes.

      Like 2
    • Jerry W Johnson

      I was thinking the same thing about the port hole. I just thought they bought a top for a newer bird and put it on the ’55. Good catch jwh14580.

      Like 0
      • Jon.in.Chico

        If I remember correctly, the ’55 top had a smaller top procurement grommet vs the ’56 model … to fit a ’56 Porthole top to a ’55 one had to change the top fastener grommet …

        Like 0
  6. Greg

    Nice TBird very reasonably priced. Some lucky person will buy this classic, question is how high will they have to bid to get her? Good luck and take good care of her.

    Like 3

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