Jumped The Pond: 1955 Ford T-Bird

1955 Ford Thunderbird

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It’s amazing how many GIs stationed overseas brought back European sports cars, but what is even more interesting is how many big American cars made the trip over the pond. Most made their way back to the States, but a few became permanent residents. This Thunderbird was one of these cars to have made the trip over to be used by a serviceman and then never made its way back. I’m sure when it was still on the road, it was an impressive and dominating machine on British carriageways! It had to dwarf just about every other two seater on the roads there! It is in pretty rough shape, but I’m sure one of our European readers would love to tackle it! You can find it here on eBay in Knutsford, United Kingdom with a current bid of £1,550.00. Special thanks to George G for this tip!

1955 Ford Thunderbird Engine

I’ve seen a lot of rusted out T-birds over the years, but this could be one of the worst I’ve seen. Clearly, these cars were not built to survive in high humidity environments, well at least this one wasn’t! The seller actually has a partially restored Thunderbird that they might be willing to let go of as well and it looks to be much more solid. They would be interested in trading both cars for a Chevy trucks, so if you have a Chevy truck, it might be a worthwhile exchange!

1955 Ford Thunderbird Interior

I’ve always liked the looks of the early Thunderbirds and while they don’t have the collector appeal of similar vintage Corvettes, I wouldn’t mind having one of these beautiful cars. Clearly, I wouldn’t go for this one purely from a transportation standpoint, but I wouldn’t mind seeing this car returned to our shores. With so many of our best classics being exported, it would be great to see one return home! Wherever it ends up, I just hope it finds a good home! So are any of our UK readers interested in giving this T-bird a good home?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Robert White

    Send it back to England. Too much rust for moi.


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    • grant

      It’s IN England…

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      • Barry T

        It can stay there.

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  2. fred

    Interesting to look at, only because you never see them in this condition…if that trunk luggage rack is an OEM option, I’ll bet it is worth the price of the car.

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  3. Rick

    I agree with Robert White, it’s too rusty, send it back to England!

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    • cyclemikey


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  4. Tony

    Yeah you got that right Mike !

    Anyone buying the T-Bird for a full resto is either a very brave person or has got rocks in his head. Purely my opinion!


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    Swiss cheese

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  6. MountainMan

    never seen one this rough before, somebody has a big task in store for them with this one

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  7. kezo

    How dos a hood rust out like hat? Is the cross bar that’s bolted to the front fenders there to hold the fenders from meeting each other? But the air cleaner is in place.

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    • Jason Houston

      Look at the chassis. It has a pair of those same cross bars to hold the flexible body together, too. I’m not as expert on rust as much as the rest of the folks on this panel here are, but this Thunderbird is the worst case of rust I have even seen anywhere. As for the hood, the car was probably parked under a drain where all the rain and salt air at night mixed together.

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  8. Doug Towsley

    Its just amazing to me how many people can sign in here, see the posting and apparently dont read the descriptions or apparently have ZERO COMPREHENSION.

    HELLO!!! It IS in England, Jeez.

    Apparently too many members here are too drunk or distracted to notice what they are seeing. This is a smoking deal, I would be all over that. The drivetrain alone is worth the current price. Apparently many people just dont realize what Thunderbird parts prices are. When I had my shop, never been a fan of FoMoCo anything, but i did 2 restos on Birds and parts are expensive. I would not want to see this car parted out, but its worth a small fortune in parts alone. Best place in the world to source bird parts is right here in Oregon. “The Birds nest”. This is a desirable early body style and very much worth restoring. Better yet. It IS in the UK where American luxury cars command a premium, and there are some very skilled craftsman. Body working skills over there is far more common than here in the US.
    As to WHY there are cars there,, ask any US service member who served in Europe or the UK. I lived over there 3 years while serving in the Air Force. No mystery at all. If you get PCS orders over a certain amount of time (Long tour) or you have rank,. You are entitled to free shipping of a Personal vehicle while there. In most locations you get one vehicle in, one vehicle out. So, many GIs buy a nice Euro car, and if smart, they buy a NICE one, and leave their other car there and ship the nice one back. Especially if a desirable grey market car. Play your cards right you drive a sweet ride while there, ship it back, drive for a few more years and THEN sell it for a profit here in the US. At some military bases at the transit center or MAC terminal literally tons of vehicles are abandoned every year. I trolled the onbase wrecking yards in Germany. Lots of good stuff and cheap parts for a GI. So, at one time or another someone figured this car wasnt worth much compared to the flash car they shipped back. Wonder long term how that turned out? Because this car is now worth something.

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    • Jason Houston

      “This is a smoking deal, I would be all over that.” but apparently you’re not?

      I recognize the price of used parts, but I also have better sense than to throw good after bad… this car is JUNK, pure and simple, by any standards. And someone was still driving it long after it was marinated in seawater, as evidence by the mickey-mouse reinforcements under the chassis and hood; this car was literally falling apart the way most British cars do anyway, just going down the road.

      If you really believe this to be a smokin’ investment, then don’t screech when you get the shipping invoice. Hell, even the seller – a chap who call himself “investment quality antiques” (HA!) – isn’t even willing to ship to the US. And the fact he has an identical car he is restoring is prima facie evidence the turquoise car (what he calls blue) isn’t worth fooling with.

      However, if you’re just looking for an exercise in spending money, you can rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic or you can buy this car.

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      • Doug Towsley

        As to Bob White (Robert, sorry couldnt resist) Thats a impressive resume. However doesnt change the fact the car IS IN the UK, no reason to send it back, then others said the same thing. So, Maybe just a typo, or you misread it but I was speaking to the larger problem on many posts on here. Not just this one. People dont read all the comments or description and ask something silly even though often times the issue was already resolved. IE: The widows corvette. Even though after multiple offers and the car was since sold people still kept posting “How much? Can you send me the sellers contact info?” Cars sold. But for 2 weeks people kept asking.

        More specific to Bob White, I have worked in Aerospace and Manufacturing extensively as well as mgmt. What I have found is that highly functioning and educated people tend to be extremely adept at certain functions but often times rather bumbling at others. I have a friend who runs a company making critical parts for Acft. He can quote you thruout the day market prices for alloys and specialty steels, machine complex programming, run times, & set up and other details but when it comes to a simple task about maintaining his car or motorcycle collection hasnt a clue and screws things up when he tries. I have seen that behavior over and over with a LOT of people. Maybe thats the case with you, maybe not but worth keeping in mind when you see simple mistakes by otherwise intelligent people.

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    • Jason Houston

      And, yes, I agree with you, the level of intelligence for people who can’t read the car is in England are probably the ones most likely to buy it. After all, Hope Springs Eternal!

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      • Robert White

        I am formally educated in Mechanical Engineering as a Mechanical Engineering Technician Tool & Die Maker. That was a two year full time course, and then I worked in Aerospace Precision High Production manufacturing. After that I got a Social Science degree in Experimental Psychology. So, for my lack of comprehension skills I have a B.A. Honours in Experimental Psychology & a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering. In university I worked in Herzberg High Energy Physics part time for the ARGUS
        Particle Detector build Design Group that manufactured the ARGUS Microvertex Particle Detector for the Large Hadron Collider in CERN Geneva.

        Comprehension has never really been a problem.

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      • Doug Towsley

        Ah yes, the usually caustic Jason Houston. Clearly you have demonstrated you have extensive knowledge and experience however interpersonal skills could use some refreshing. While i have called you a flame troll before, I suspect in person we, or perhaps many subscribers here would get along just great with you in person over a beer. But sometimes your responses here are a bit coarse.
        As to the car. I stand by my original assessment. Price has only gone up to 1650 pounds. Yesterdays exchange rate is 1.42 to the dollar. So for the right person, Its a excellent deal either for restore or parts. Drivetrain and certain parts on that car are worth double the current asking price. i DO NOT have to run out and buy every vehicle i believe is a good deal. Thats what got me into my current mess. I currently own over 135 motorcycles and 18 cars and trucks. My health isnt great and almost died 3x the last 2 years. I am in downsize mode and focused on quality of life, not owning a huge collection that is expensive and difficult to maintain. That being said. I have many friends in the UK, and have shipped containers of vehicles IN and OUT of the US many times and as recently as 3 months ago sent a 40 ft container to the UK. Pending deal going to Germany, and expecting to do some business in Australia and India soon. In April, the largest Vehicle swap meet west of the Mississippi is right here in Oregon. 5000 booths at the expo center and a similarly large one running adjacent is the Portland International raceway swap meet. There are buyers there from All over the world. A LOT of shipping containers will be leaving here for points all over. That car in the UK is certainly a good buy for the right buyer. Certainly not for every one. and might take some time to sell.
        But just because its junk in your eyes and some others does not mean it wont sell. And I for one am very happy to see these cars saved and not scrapped. While parts for that model are expensive, they are not impossible to source and its an iconic model and I hope it lives on either restored or in parts. It would be great to see less negativity here and more positive support. Thats the most frequent complaint I hear from new members or young people when looking for resource and help either in local clubs or our outreach in our museum.

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  9. Doug Towsley

    As to vehicles, let me give some examples for better understanding how the whole GI deal works. It Doesnt always work, and you are at the whim of international commerce, politics and exchange rates.
    So, 1986. I was over in Europe. Long tour. Now the prices are from memory so are just approx. Now around that time back in the US a brand new Chevy Chevette, (OR Ford Escort, or Mopar comparable) Would run you right about $6,000 at most dealers. We can all agree (I think) that these are Sh*t Boxs. Not even worth their weight in scrap metal. Now, When I was in Germany a young airman could either finance thru onbase banking, OR take a risk on the German Market and go out and buy himself a nice Porsche 924 with Leather interior and perhaps even the Turbo model.For about $5500 US. Jah! Wunderbar! Das ist gut! No Frau would ever look twice at some young putz in a Chevette but you got a chance with a smattering of German, and a nice new Porsche. Now, you buy one with US spec, or grey market it into the US and you drive it your whole tour assuming you dont crash it or ruin it. Ship it to the US, drive for a little more and you can resell it as a used car for more than you paid for it. That, Is the best deal you could ever put together.
    Now, Enter Politics and Exchange rates. Right about that time 1985-86 Old Ronald Reagan decided that with the US in the grips of a crushing recession that it would be a smart move to devalue the US dollar to aid the US economy. Did a few other things as well. Now, a young GI on very limited income saw his US dollar go from 6 to 7 Duetch Marks to 3.5 marks to the dollar. Now the GIs who financed their flash Euro stud mobiles on base were largely ok, but those poor bastards who went for the cheaper interest or finance deals off base just took a huge hit. I knew a lot of Airman driving Turbo Saabs, 944s, Volvos, Mercedes, and a lot of other hot cars at that time. It was painful to watch. Now, hindsight is 20/20 and you may think a 924 entry level car was a heap of junk as well, But look at what the US market had to offer.
    Now, when I was in Turkey, I had a friend who had a brand new IROC Z28. Hot stuff, Blue and white, was pretty bad a$$ ride for the time. He had a lot of Turks wanting it badly. We had special customs rules in Turkey at the time so the same vehicle came in must go out. (Called Beyaname) So, He had a wealthy Turkish business man make him an offer. Drive it across the border. Cash for you my friend. a LOT of cash. He asked, “How are you going to get it back into Turkey?” Guy told him, “You dont worry, No problem” The guy did the deal. Was handed a briefcase full of cash, went up to Germany, and bought a sweet German car and shipped it back to the US from a German Port using his free GI shipping deal. Everybody came out happy.

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    • Wayne S.K.

      @ Robert White:
      How’s that cancer cure coming along?

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      • Robert White

        Jesus Christ is the First Physician in historiography. All cancer related concerns and questions should be put to him as I am certain that he is the only one that cures anything. Contemporary modern medicine is more about symptom substitution with BIG pharmaceuticals rather than actual curative
        healing. As a Metaphysician I follow the First Physician Jesus Christ for the tough questions and answers. I recommend that others do the same, but most don’t.

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  10. Gearheadengineer

    Looks more like the jump was unsuccessful, and someone just pulled it out of the pond.

    – John

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  11. JW454

    Apparently the Brits aren’t afflicted with the “Everything’s a rat rod” virus. If they were, this would be well on it’s way to having a coating of satin clear sprayed on it to preserve the “Patina”.

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  12. Jason Houston

    Ahhhh, I love your observation!!

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  13. Robert Thompson

    There is a fellow who is keeping track of ’55, ’56. ’57 TBird serial numbers. It would be great to know the number of this one…

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  14. erikj

    when they speak of trucks, I,VE got a good one,thats ready for the sale block. Don’t know what they are looking for but never hurts to through it out there unless any of you are interested: 1973 gmc 2wd stepside. All original drivetrain as followes, 454/t-400 dana rear with option #2-4:11 positraction. Factory tach,tilt collium and a few other items. I was told it was specialy bult for gm to show. On the door jam is a plaque from gm,s motorcoach division. they did semis and motorhomes stuff like that. and it shows 48k whichmight be real. any intrest?

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    • JW454


      In order to get an answer to your question, you might want to think about showing a picture, describing it’s condition, and setting a price.

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      • Jason Houston

        Good advice. I wish every amateur seller could read this. Thanks, JW.

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  15. Jason Houston

    I’ve been cogitating on this car now for several days. I probably couldn’t afford to restore it, and love it too much to part it out, and would die if it fell into the jaws of a customizer. So, if I could own this, I would not change a thing. I would keep it in a freeze-frame, suspended animation condition as the worst early Thunderbird to ever survived being crushed.

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  16. Doug Towsley

    This would be a car you would need a first person inspection. I have contacts in the UK, Depends on location but they are all gearheads of a sort so could do a reasonable chance for a look-see. But while the hood is rotted, it IS possible this is a car that looks worse than it is. I have restored 2 T birds and in my personal experience BOTH of those turned out to be far worse than they looked. A LOT worse. so keep that in mind. But in all my years of buying and selling and working on vintage cars, motorcycles and airplanes appearances and cosmetics is superficial. A knowledgable inspection and research is the key to coming out ahead or way behind. I personally love it when searching for a bargain the seller hasnt corrected simple cosmetic issues.
    While this shop specializers in 58 and later TBirds, I used them and referred a lot of people to them and when I worked on the 2 cars I restored i did a world wide search and came back to this supplier right in my hometown. Cant comment on them currently as its been over 12 years since my last Bird experience but they supplied everything i needed and heaps of advice and mentoring. Worth checking out, (No current connection to this business) See: http://tbirdparts.com/ And perhaps worth looking at the 2 cars they have for sale on their site, a Convertible that looks nice and a Landau project See: http://tbirdparts.com/thunderbirds-for-sale/
    Typically a specialist like these guys know where theres more treasure.

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    • Jason Houston

      Unless the hood has been replaced (and there’s no evidence to suggest it ever has) the lower end of this car cannot be any better than the hood. Cars don’t rust from the top down as often as they rust from the bottom up, and any novice can see this car is thin and crunchy throughout, and has been for decades. Look at those reinforcing bars someone placed under the hood and under the mid-section. Do you need any more proof than that how deep the cancer on this car goes?

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