EXCLUSIVE: 1956 Ford Thunderbird

I’ve never understood the thought process we often go through when we start restoring a project. Far too often, people sand the paint down and spray the car with primer, long before even looking into the drivetrain, suspension or chassis. I guess we all dream of having shiny new paint, without thinking about whether the rest of the car is worth restoring or if we can afford that shiny new 2 stage paint. While Daniel’s T-Bird might be in primer, the mechanicals have actually already been rebuilt and it’s now a running and driving car! All that’s really left to do is finish the body work and paint it. While it’s fairly close to being done, he has other projects that need his attention. He’s asking $16,500 or best offer. If you are interested, be sure to use the form below to message him!

From Daniel – After 17 years of sitting in a garage she is finally out! Rebuilt motor and trans, new gas tank, new brakes, new wiring. Many extra parts. The car runs and drives very nicely. I have too many projects in front of this one so she has to go. Two hard tops and a soft top included.

At first, I was a bit shocked by his asking price, but then I looked at what ’56 T-Birds are going for these days. While this one is going to need body work and a paint job, his asking isn’t too far off what similar cars have been going for. He is willing to hear offers too, so you might be able to land this one where you need to be at to afford a decent paint job and still come in under what already finished examples are going for.

My only complaint with this one is the transmission, the Fordomatic is a decent gearbox as far as ’50s automatics go, but the 3 speed is just so much more fun to row through. Seeing as it is in good working condition, I would leave it alone. Danny doesn’t state which engine this is, but it looks to me like the 312 V8. The car was optioned with power steering, power brakes and the automatic, so it’s pretty safe to assume that it was also optioned with the 312.

Whenever people ask me about how they should go about restoring their car, the first thing I always tell them is to leave the paint work for last. If the car isn’t rusty or damaged, leave it be until you have the car back on the road and you know you can afford or even want to have it painted. In this case all the other work is already done, so I guess you can get straight to work on the cosmetics. I actually don’t mind doing body and paint prep, so if you are like me, you might be able to get this one finished without having to invest too much more into it. The question will be, what quality of paint do you want? I’d go with a single stage enamel, but that’s just me. What about you?

Special thanks to Daniel for deciding to list his T-Bird with us! If you are able to work a deal with him, we sure would love to follow along with this project. And if you have a nearly finished project sitting in your garage that needs to go, please consider listing it with us!

Asking Price: $16,500
Location: Yucca Valley, California

Contact The Seller

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  1. Kevin Wernick

    Nothing like a 2seater T-Bird. If I didn’t already have a toy, I’d be all over it, I think the price is more than reasonable. I believe the 312 was standard in 56.

    • George B Member

      The 292 was standard, the 312 was optional.

      Not sure but I think all automatic transmission cars do have the 312

      • Kevin Wernick

        You’re right, I commented before thinking. Lol. Although I think after 55, the 312 was the most popular choice, I don’t recall ever seeing a 56 or 57 with a 292.

  2. Peter Atherton

    Didn’t all ’56’s have a continental spare tire?I don’t see even the brackets for it;never liked it anyway….

    • George B Member

      You are correct.

      All 1956 Thunderbirds have a continental kit from the factory. It looks as if it has been removed from this car, and the bumper replaced from a different year, because there are no exhaust outlets on the bumper

      As a sidenote, not all 56 Thunderbirds have portholes

      • Bill

        I owned an early ’56 which did not have portholes. Portholes were introduced later that year.

    • Kevin Wernick

      You’re right, and 56 was the only year

  3. Rustytech Member

    If I were doing this, I would match the original color and paint type. Price looks reasonable as long as there is not serious rust underneath.

  4. Bob Hess

    No continental kit OK with me but the rear of that car took a hit from tail light to tail light by something. Don’t see anything straight back there…. lid, left seams etc.

  5. Kevin Wernick

    @Bill. There were several complaints from the 55s, one being the blind spot, hence the pothole in 56. Seems that feature would have come along at the start of the new model year. But maybe not

  6. Drew V

    As far as paint,though it wouldn’t be original,I’d go with a catalyzed enamel, after a wet sanding and buffing you have the shine of a two stage without the problems associated with clearcoats,(ie, hazing, chipping and peeling etc)

  7. David Boling

    My dad has a 57 T bird. It has the 292 with the automatic and power steering and brakes. It only has 53k on it. Raven Black with black interior with white inserts. She’s a real honey. He thought about putting a 312 in it. Decided against it. He has a few. Says the 292 isn’t as strong as the 312 but more reliable. Says the 312 was known to starve the bottom end for oil.

  8. Robert White

    I can see that the A-arms are still rusty in engine compartment so the drive train will have to be removed in order to sandblast all the rusty bits on the frame. Moreover, this car needs a complete frame off restoration, and by repairing the drivetrain first without doing the frame off the owner has just created more work to get it completed. Body work, and frame work, are first. Drive train rebuilds come second, and new boots, shocks, and break work, are the last bits to recondition. Most guys that don’t do body work, or welding, usually start with the mechanical portion of the rebuild which is bass ackwards IMHO.


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