T-Bird Treasure: 1955 Ford Convertible

With a wave of American GI’s back from the war with fond memories of European cars like the MG TC Roadster and the Jaguar XK120 – American car manufacturers responded with sporty alternatives. The Chevy Corvette, introduced at the 1953 New York Auto Show, is probably the most famous sports cars put forward early. Fords response was the Thunderbird, which came two years after the Corvette in 1955 – the same year as the nice project survivor found here on eBay.

With a directive from Ford’s higher up’s to “rush to market” after the initial positive public reaction to the Corvette competitor – Ford decided the Thunderbird would be a more luxurious daily driver, and be built on existing components instead of a complete build from scratch. Ford used headlamps, hinges, tail lamps, controls, lenses, knobs and virtually all powertrain parts from its family of products.

Ironically, what began as a time-saving effort ended up creating “a family resemblance” on the showroom for Ford, which ended up selling other Fords as the T-birds became extremely popular. And popular they were! Originally hoping to sell 10,000 units, Ford sold over 3,500 units in the first 10 days and over 16,155 units in 1955 alone. This body style (my favorite by far) is considered the First Generation – and Ford produced over 53,166 units between 1955 and 1957, introducing Gen 2 as a four-seater in 1958.

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of keeping car’s as original as possible – going as far as leaving the fading patina on classics whenever it’s feasible. You can see in this survivor that the body is surprisingly straight – so I vote a top to bottom mechanical rejuvenation, detail every inch of the body, add new rubber, and a new top, and simply polish up the Snowshoe White color with a good restorative wax and hit the road! With the bidding currently in the $5k’s, I’m sure the hundreds of watchers will run up the bid as it closes and this classic will soon be in the hands of someone who will lovingly restore this wonderful T-Bird!


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  1. Steverino

    I agree, do the mechanics and leave the patina. I saw a barnfind second gen Corvette at a Swapmeet the other day and it drew way more attention than the restored cars surrounding it.

  2. 86 Vette Convertible

    find the missing front bumper and headlight parts, replace the top and all the parts that need it. I would be tempted to consider a paint job on it. Once done, drive it. It would be a fun cruiser.

  3. Dick Johnson

    Amos Minter Thunderbirds in Dallas is about the most knowlegeable source on early birds. It would be interesting to get their take on this one.

    Amos told me about how much lead was in each bird in the cowl area alone (16 pounds?). Better wear a hazmat suit when preparing these cars for paint.

  4. joe haska

    From the photos it looks pretty good, of course the dreaded rust could be everywhere, and then its a whole new ball-game.. I have seen several of these lately that have been, in what could be called good driving condition, and the price’s have been in the low twenties to thirty. From that stand point you would want to make sure this is a solid piece, so you don’t get upside down in it.

  5. Johnmloghry

    A friend of mine has two of these, he bought them at a Mecum auction. He says he over paid, but I don’t know, one of them (also his 66 convertible) took first place at a concours in Houston, Texas. This one could never be concours, but they sure draw a lot of attention.

  6. Steve H.

    What slays me is how little effort people make to clean up their car for the eBay photos. At least remove the boxes and random stuff cluttering the seats so potential buyers can see the condition of the interior. Also, no mention of whether or not the headlight bezels and other missing parts are included.

    Still, a neat car and I’d love to own it.

  7. On and On Member

    I’m thinking that prices for 55-57 T-Birds has already started to weaken as attrition hits the generation that saw and loved these as new cars. What a shame but it affects our hobby and all collectors of obsolete machinery. Certain highly optioned and rare models will always command top prices but these survivors in need of help may be true bargains for those who don’t mind hard work. I personally prefer ‘Square Birds’ styling and extra seating and one is on my list of maybe some day.

  8. Tort Member

    Yes, I have seen quite a few that were selling for the mid to low 20’s now in the teens as low as twelve five just this past week. May be a good time to pick one up as I would think they would not fall much more.

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