Revived After Sitting For 42 Years! 1955 Ford Thunderbird

While the market has been flat for a while for the 1955-57 Thunderbirds, some serious bargains have started to show up of late. Consider this 1955 model that was in barn storage from 1978 until recently, when the seller has resurrected it into a “yard driver.” Thanks to frequent finder Ikey H., we can look this car over and consider adding it to the fleet! It’s located in Bloomfield, New Mexico, and is listed for sale here on eBay, where the bidding has reached $7,000.

I find myself wondering about what looks like body filler in the rocker panel on this side. The seller states that there is only thin surface rust visible where the car was sanded but makes no mention of filler. I’d want to see a close-up picture of the sill on this side before bidding. However, the car certainly looks straight, and I suspect that is the original Raven Black paint showing through in places. I’m not sure I would keep the rims, but if you are looking for a period appearance you might want to leave them alone. The rear wheel skirts are missing.


The seller states that they have replaced the battery, water and fuel pumps, spark plugs, and changed the oil and that the car now starts and yard drives. The brakes work when pumped, so there’s still work to be done, and I would replace those ancient bias-ply tires at my earliest opportunity! Knowing that the car is a runner increases my enthusiasm for any project; how many of you have a car in similar condition and start the engine every once in a while just to make yourself feel good? Unfortunately, that action has taken place many times in my household!

The interior actually doesn’t look too bad, although it’s nowhere near perfect. The three-speed transmission is attached to the standard 292 cubic-inch V-8. The Thunderbird does have a telescopic steering column and power seats, but we don’t know if either feature is functional.

Things don’t look too bad under here, either. If you were to purchase this ‘Bird, would you leave the half-restored look or finish the job? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. benjy58

    So many questions like bondo under the rocker panels is the floor solid?. These old birds are prone to rust everywhere.If the brakes aren’t any good the brake booster will cost. Looks like a minefield to me.

    Like 4
  2. Steve R

    Even though bidding is now at $7,000 with the reserve not met, it’s probably a long way from actually being purchased since there is a $15,000 BIN attached to the auction. That’s seems like way too much money for an early T-bird that looks to need a complete restoration. As the author stated, there have been a lot of T-birds hitting the market, patience and persistence will allow someone to find a better car at a better price.

    The one good thing about the seller is he’s willing to drop his price every time he re-lists one of his cars. Eventually he will come down enough to find a buyer.

    Steve R

    Like 9
  3. Paolo

    Looks like a great start for a hot rod T-bird. Many, many years ago Hot Rod Magazine tech writer Don Francisco wrote a piece about swapping a Pontiac 389 into a T-Bird. I don’t recall how he happened to choose this combination. Afterwards he said that the 389 might have been the worst possible choice to swap into the bird. It fought him the whole way.
    Good article sorry I can’t remember which issue, maybe 1963.
    I want to know if a Mopar 383 could be swapped in. I met a guy who installed a 383 in a 1957 Ford Fairlane just to mess with Ford lovers.

    Like 3
    • RNR

      Back in the mid ‘60’s there were two brothers up the street from me who drag raced a red two seater ‘bird gasser with a 426 Hemi in it. They flat towed it behind either of their matching gold 383 powered ‘66 B bodies, one a Coronet 500, the other a Charger.

      This ‘bird would be a good candidate to recreate those days…

      Like 1
    • moosie moosie Member

      Back in the early-mid 60’s we put a 413 Chrysler with the push button torqueflite into a ’56 T-bird, a whole lotta cutting, fabrication and welding but it was in there, the thing I remember about the whole thing is was how short the drive shaft was. The owner was happy with it, it was quite fast.

    • John Reid

      Paolo, I saw a 55 or 56 Thunderbird outside Hawaii Racing in North LA about 2 years ago that had a 392 cast iron Hemi in it which had been done by them many years earlier. Looked great & appeared to fit quite nicely !!

  4. TimM

    This car looks much more sanitary on the inside and under the hood then the outside!! Doesn’t seem like a rust bucket but I would want to check it out personally or ret some pictures of it on a lift!! Always liked the first generation Tbird better than what it turned into in the sixties!!

    Like 3
  5. Car39

    There used to be a similar one parked under a beach house 2 blocks from the ocean. I swear you could hear it rust under the poorly chosen car cover.

  6. Morley Member

    In my opinion, Install a 425 Buick nail head, tremac trans, do a decent body job, obviously someone has tried , make a real hot rod out of it. Then go have fun. I have an old hot rod magazine that show how to install just about any motor into these cars, even big old hemis. I was in Florida a few years back at a swap meet, one of these with a straight axle, small block Chev and two fours. That is the way to go. Aanyone can restore a car, it takes a real man to make a hot rod.

    Like 1
  7. Maestro1 Member

    The BIN price is absurd, the hardtop is wrong for the year, no portholes in 1955, I think the car was red, not black, the Seller is on another Planet.
    The writer is correct that the market for these cars is flat, a good time to buy
    one, certainly one can be found for slightly more than $15,000.00 in much better shape.

    Like 4
  8. Bob Mck Member

    I had one of these that was about as nice as this one. It had both tops and it sold for $7500. Good luck getting 15K.

  9. Stu

    Why not put a Ford in a Ford. Maybe a 427 with dual quads. How about a Coyote? Too big for the engine compartment?

    Like 1
  10. Bigbird

    To bring into top condition would cost a bunch. For a good price you could have a nice little hot rod bird. Keep the y-block, maybe a 4-speed, a 12v system, and finish the interior. Work on the body when you can, and just drive it…just my thought.

    Like 2
  11. Bob h

    I’m aware of two birds that have changed hands recently, for LESS than the 7K mentioned. Both were CA cars, NO rust, and looked better than this. One a 57, one a 55. Both were projects. I’m aware of one more, currently. Me thinks, too much, and NOT good enough.

  12. vernon unrau

    although 15K sounds way too much , ? , up here in Canada , it would start at 20K !!! and that would be something put together haywire and duct-tape , and parts from all over ! this ones original and looks almost complete ! Doe’s it say the mileage ?

  13. Stan Marks

    Heck, do what Richard Rawlings does, when he buys a barn find, like this.
    Throw some clear coat on the patina & sell it for double/triple the price, he paid.
    Of course, it he did a full resto, he would ask 100K.
    What a racket……

    Like 1
  14. Kenn

    Just jealous, Stan Marks? And Vernon, why not pick this up and make a quick $5K? Or would Stan then be pissed at you also.

    • Stan Marks

      Jealous about what, Kenn? I’m not pissed at anyone.

  15. Kenn

    Stan, appeared to me as though you were pissed that Rawlings makes big dollars flipping cars. And that, reading between the lines of course, you don’t have the money -skill – to do the same.

  16. Stan Marks

    Far from it, Kenn. I enjoy watching them do their magic.

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