Unfinished Project: 1956 Ford Thunderbird

The first generation of the Ford Thunderbird, built between 1955-57, is the version of the car most remembered today. It was a 2-seat personal luxury car that is often incorrectly compared to the Chevy Corvette, a 2-seat sports car. This 1956 edition, rebuilt in stages over the past three years, still has work to go but perhaps most of the heavy lifting has already been done. Located in Los Angeles, California, this work-in-progress is available here on eBay. There is no reserve and the bidding has crept up to $6,000 so far.

Besides that the T-Bird and ‘Vette were of a different genre in the mid-50s, public reaction to the cars was quite different. Between 1955-57 (before the Thunderbird became a 4-seat car), Ford built and sold more than 53,000 copies. By comparison, for the first three years of the Corvette (1953-55), Chevrolet could only manage to push 4,640 units out the door and nearly pulled the plug. The easiest way to recognize a ’56 Thunderbird over a ’55 is that the hardtop gained portholes in its second outing. And the ’56 could be ordered with a continental kit because the spare tire took up so much of the already limited trunk space.

As the story goes, the seller found this car three years ago after it had been in storage for a long time. It was a complete T-Bird with decent black paint and a black/white tuxedo interior. Since then, the seller has sanded down the car and had both bumpers re-chromed. The continental kit is no longer attached but has been saved for when the restoration work picks up again. Its floors have been patched (though more work is needed) and the trunk is solid.

The Ford’s 312 cubic-inch V8 and automatic transmission, along with the power-assisted brakes and steering, have been rebuilt by the seller. The last time the car was started a few months ago, it fired up nicely but is not drivable at this time. The engine and other components have been blinged out. The seats and door panels were removed to help preserve them and a pallet containing a bunch of parts is provided for the buyer to take up where the seller left off. Too many projects (and kids) have prevented the seller from finishing the T-Bird himself.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Car parts! One overhead shot by a really tall photographer. One of the best looking of the early birds but the one under side shot says frame off work ahead.

    Like 5
  2. Dan Tanna

    A couple of corrections. The 56 came from Factory with a continental kit, it wasn’t ordered. Also, some early 56’s didn’t have the porthole top.

    Like 10
    • Gord

      All 56 and 57 Birds could be ordered with either a porthole or non porthole top. You can tell which year the non porthole tops were from by the style or lack of emblem on the top

      Like 2
  3. Frank Sumatra

    When was the project started?

    Like 1
  4. chuck

    For some reason the value of these cars has not gone up much compared to other cars. I had a 56, red, in 1983. More rust than this one. Trunk full of NOS parts. Sold it for $5500. As nice one at that time was $25000.

    Like 1
  5. Bob McK Member

    I don’t think he mentioned if the soft top is with the car. They are really hard to find if not. However, this is a really nice project car. Someone is getting a decent deal.

    Like 1
  6. Howie Mueler

    $6,900 now, not the best photos.

  7. Joe Haska

    Every time a small Bird like this comes up I immediately want it. Then I have a reality check and know its not going to happen. Still I feel exactly the same about this one. I will never learn.

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