Easy Restoration: 1955 Ford Thunderbird

The owner of this 1955 Ford Thunderbird says that it could be restored with very little investment. That could potentially be quite good news, because values have been flat for the ’55 model for quite some time, and have recently taken a slight drop. That might make this a good time to invest, as values may well go up in the near future. The Thunderbird is located in Valencia, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the opening bid for the Thunderbird at $15,000, but there have been no bids at the time of writing. There is also a BIN option available at $26,000.

The outside appearance of the Thunderbird is quite good. When the Thunderbird was first introduced, it was only available in three colors. Those were Raven Black, Thunderbird Blue, and the Torch Red in which this car is finished. One interesting little piece of trivia with the ’55 model is that they all left the production line painted in a single color. If the new owner wanted the top finished in a contrasting shade, like the white on this car, this was usually performed at the dealership. Having said that, there is evidence that a few late ’55 models had the tops painted at the factory, but there is no clear information on the numbers involved. This Thunderbird is complete, and it looks like it has escaped the ravages of rust. The paint is of good driver quality, and while it does look clean, we have no information on the health of the floors or frame.

The interior also looks promising, and I suspect that it would respond well to a good clean. The upholstery all looks quite good, and it doesn’t appear as though there are any nasty rips, tears, or stains to address. The carpet is slightly faded in spots, but it certainly isn’t horrendous. The Thunderbird comes equipped with power seats, power windows, and the factory radio. The windows are operational, but both the seat and radio aren’t. Another item that will require attention is the heater, which also doesn’t work.

The first time that I read the listing, I have to admit that I was left scratching my head for a moment. The owner says that the 292ci V8 runs, but doesn’t run. What he means is that the engine is apparently healthy, but the car does require a new fuel pump. In addition to the 292, you get a Ford-O-Matic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. With 198hp on tap, Ford billed the Thunderbird as less of a sports car and more of a “personal car.” Whichever way you look at it, the ’55 Thunderbird was a massive sales success. Conceived to compete directly with the Corvette, Ford managed to sell 16,155 Thunderbirds, against around 700 Corvettes. Ford definitely had a winner on its hands.

Taken at face value, the owner’s claim that the Thunderbird could be restored with little outlay does appear to have some merit. Once restored, it would also be a very attractive car. Of course, we don’t know what the owner has set as the reserve, but I really hope that it is lower than the BIN price. That isn’t outrageous, but I would probably call it slightly optimistic at the present time.


  1. 71FXSuperGlide

    Boy, that is one big ol’ steering wheel!

    Like 1
    • Del

      All old cars leak some oil

    • Wayne from oz

      Stain on driveway looks like rusty water. No inhibitor. Can just imagine the state of the cooling system including the block.

  2. Ikey Heyman

    Adam, you’re right, the BIN is optimistic. You can find a decent running one for less than $26K. These are iconic cars for sure, but when it comes to driving manners, they drive like a 1955 Ford, not surprisingly I suppose.

  3. h5mind

    When I was 17, a buddy’s neighbor collected cars and counted one of these among them. I remember being surprised how tiny they were inside. At 6′ 1″, I could barely squeeze behind the wheel without clonking my head on the hardtop. When they say, “They don’t make them like this anymore”, I suspect they’re referring as much about the cars as the folks who drove them.

    • Fossil

      I agree. I’m 6″ and I have difficulty installing myself in anything like this car and including my ’77 Corvette. I have many bruises on the right side of my head from the T-tops.
      Getting out is also a challenge.

      Wait on………I’m 74 years old………..of course I don’t bend as I used to!

  4. TimM

    Really iconic car!! I to think the buy it now to be slightly high but the car will sell I’m sure it hasn’t been molested!!

  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I like the 55-57 T-birds, they made a statement that few other cars could. Ironic that Ford went with a V8 for their upscale personal sports vehicle while Vettes were limited to a 6 cylinder till 57. Kind of ironic also that it was the T-Bird that ultimately saved the Corvette from being discontinued by GM back in that era. Then you see the T-Bird is history while the Vette isn’t.
    Wouldn’t mind having both a 57 Vette and a 57 T-Bird parked together, they’d make quite a pair of bookends IMO.
    In looking at the photos I’m unsure if they just didn’t close the hood and doors properly or if there’s a problem there. If not, may not take a lot to get it back on the road where it belongs (based on the pictures).

    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      Fatfingered the year of the V8 Vette – Sorry.

      Like 1
      • moosie moosie

        Vette got the 265 CID in 1955, some had the 6 but later ones the V8. This T-Bird is nice but something strikes me as funny about that hard tops rear window.

  6. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Seems every other day Barn finds puts together a page full of very interesting cars. This happens to be one of those days. I’ll spend the whole day reading and responding to these posts. I really like some of the comments, while others I could do without. So I just add my inconsequential comments.
    Baby birds are definitely a car in a niche of its own. I’ve been an admirer since they were new, yet my money still goes with the Buicks of the same era up to 1970.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  7. Léo Maisonneuve

    Check the oil mark on pavement, leaking oil seal !


      The stain on the driveway caught my eye also.

  8. Del

    Another non runner for Mega bucks.

    Looking for Daddy Warbucks.



    Looking for Suzanne Somers

  10. Mike Lussier

    The stain on the driveway appears to be about that reservoir next to radiator.Power Steering maybe? The doors do not shut without considerable help. Common for Baby birds. New sticker plates maybe but that just covers up something weak. Beware buyers without pictures of the under carriage.

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