Sweet Driver: 1955 Ford Thunderbird

Given the fact that this 1955 Thunderbird spent the first part of its life in Hollywood, California, and moved from there to its current location in Las Vegas, Nevada, it should be no surprise to learn that it is a rust-free car. It presents really nicely, and while the owner does say that it isn’t perfect, it is certainly in better than average driver condition. It is listed for sale here on eBay, and bidding has reached $13,900 in a No Reserve auction.

The first thing to point out is that the Thunderbird has undergone a repaint at some point in the past in its original Torch Red. This looks like it has been a pretty decent paint job. The original owner was in possession of the car until around 5-years-ago, when it was purchased by the current owner. That repaint pre-dates that time and looks to have held up quite well. There are certainly no major problems or issues with the car, while shots of the underside show it to be clean and rust-free. The car comes with both a soft-top and hardtop. The hardtop interests me because that is vinyl covered, which is certainly a distinctive look. I’m not sure if I like it, but it is different. Otherwise, this looks like it is one very nice T-Bird.

The interior of this classic is just as nice as the exterior, with no problems to really note. There are a couple of slight wear spots on some of the interior metal trim, but it doesn’t look bad. About the only thing that I would want to look at is aligning the lid to the glove compartment properly because the way it is does mess with my head a little bit. Apart from those gorgeous red and white leather seats, the Thunderbird was also optioned with power windows and a power seat.

Resting under the hood of the Thunderbird is the 292ci Y-Block V8, and a 3-speed Fordomatic transmission. The original owner also specified power steering and power brakes, which would make this one relaxed cruiser. As with the presentation of the rest of the vehicle, the presentation of the engine bay is pretty good. The owner says that the car has been thoroughly gone through mechanically and that it is all in good order. He also provides this YouTube video, and the car does both look and sound really sweet.

The owner refers to this Thunderbird as being in “good driver” condition, and from what we can see in the photos, it is probably under-selling the car to a certain extent. It presents very nicely and looks like a car that is ready to be driven and enjoyed. Ford never marketed the Thunderbird as a sports car, but as a “personal car,” with an emphasis on comfort and convenience. That is a great description for this car, and I can’t think of many better cars in which to enjoy a bit of sedate, top-down cruising on a sunny day than this one.


  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Drove the 312ci ‘57 twin to this one day from New Empire to the Nut Tree Airport. Wunderbar radio blaring away, girlfriend in the right seat, perfect weather. Had lunch, girlfriend whispering a promise about dessert when we got home, started the car smiling..but it wouldn’t start.
    Does anyone else know the feeling of a good time slipping away when the car won’t start, no tools onboard to fix a double diaphragm furl pump that you can’t buy anyway on a Sunday afternoon 3.5 hours from home with the sudden revelation by the girlfriend that her daddy told her to stick around town?!!?
    Life can be a terrible teacher when you get the test first and the lesson afterwards..
    Fortunately my brother had a flatbed car hauler to borrow along with my ‘72 ElCamino and my “lost” drivers license he miraculously found (he had a permit at the time).
    Made for a long day, and a good car memory like this one could become for a new owner.

    Like 13
    • Andy

      Your definition of a good car memory is certainly different than mine!

      Like 2
  2. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Good looking T-Bird from what I’m seeing. It’s a cruiser that someone will enjoy driving when time permits. It will never see the money a 55 Vette will, so maybe the new owner will use it for what it was designed: driving.

    Like 3
  3. Ramone

    I’ve always liked these cars, especially the ‘57, and have been watching values on them. Seems the generation that had such interest in them is likely aging out, and sellers aren’t getting premium prices even for great survivors. As we see this trend continue with these and other cars, it really makes no sense to buy a project car, and start the work. Not financially, anyway. I’d be proud to have this car, drive and show it. Great value, I think.

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      It doesn’t make sense to buy almost any project, especially those left sitting in the elements for years. But, people look at the initial entry price and bite. It’s wise to wait and get a driver that’s a little rough around the edges, but doesn’t need rust repair or substantial body work. As for the generation that covets these cars the most aging out of the market, that is 100% accurate. These cars will always have a following, but just not as strong. However, the Europeans still lust after these cars, a friend recently sold his to an exporter who sent it to Holland, he knows of several other T-birds from that era which have also made the same boat ride.

      Like 3
  4. TimM

    It’s a steel of a deal at this price!! Great car I’m sure it will go higher!!

    Like 1
  5. Joe

    Nice looking car but would it have killed the owner to buy a bottle of Westley’s bleche wite and a brush to get rid of the yellow sidewalls?

    Like 4
  6. Billieg

    Would love to buy it but in Florida it’s useless without air….

    Like 2
  7. Ben T. Spanner

    Very similar car for sale in Naples Florida on Craigslist. Per had; previous rotisserie restoration. Looks like it is in a shop with a lift making inspection easier. Asking $16,000.

    Like 1
    • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

      My in-laws live in Naples, beautiful town for those flush financially. My wife lived there for 30 years and saw it change from a nice fishing town to a millionaire paradise. For the most part those who live there are not classic car people, so it doesn’t surprise me to see a car like this for $16k. Nonetheless it would have to be a very nice example to compete with the one shown here in Las Vegas.
      God bless America

      Like 1
      • Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

        Ps. My wife and I were married on a Naples beach 24 years ago today. June 30, 1995.

        Like 1
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        Happy anniversary, John!

  8. moosie moosie

    Wrong hardtop, no portholes on ’55’s. Also the transmission should be a 2 speed Ford-o-matic, the author lists it as a 3 speed a/t, but a nice driver style car if it doesn’t get too expensive. But I could be wrong.

    • Ron James

      I have a 55. They ARE three speeds but unless you shift manually it only shifts once, hence people generally think they are 2 speeds.

    • Paul Draver

      You’re right about the portholes. When introduced in 1951, Ford-o-matic was a 3 speed transmission. In the early models you had shift to low to get first (It normally started in 2nd). They later modified it so that flooring it from a start would put it into first. Once Cruise-o-matic 3 speed was introduced in 1958, Ford-o-matic became a 2-speed transmission available with 6 cylinder and base V8 engines on the full size Fords. Falcons only offered Ford-o-matic until the transmission was discontinued in I believe 1965. Thunderbird from 1958 on only offered Cruise-o-matic.

      • moosie moosie

        Thank you both, Ron & Paul for the education. I am humbled by the storehouse of knowledge here on barnfinds, its priceless.

  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    Best looking of the first 3 years. Continental kit killed the ’56 for me and while the ’57 has nice lines it was just bigger than it needed to be.

  10. Joe Cancemi

    anybody added A/C to a car like this?, it would have to be the under dash add on knee knocker but A/C makes life great in the humid south. Approx cost labor and materials?

    • moosie moosie

      Maybe Summit Racing could help you about an A/C kit, their prices are usually very good.

      • Steve R

        With an obscure car like this 1955 Thunderbird with a Y-block engine, you call the aftermarket AC manufacturers directly, speak to their tech people and get a part number for the kit that works. At that point you call a retailer like Summit.

        Steve R

  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Sold for $20K.

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