White FORD Thunderbird from 1957, eight cylinders, 5768 cc, 285 HP, max. speed 200 km/h. Period: 1954 – 1957
The Ford Thunderbird (colloquially called the T-Bird) is a personal luxury car produced by Ford from model years 1955 until 1997 and 2002 until 2005 across 11 distinct generations. Introduced as a two-seat convertible, the Thunderbird was produced in a variety of body configurations. These included a four-seat hardtop coupe, four-seat convertible, five-seat convertible and hardtop, four-door pillared hardtop sedan, six-passenger hardtop coupe, and five-passenger pillared coupe, with the final generation designed again as a two-seat convertible.
Ford targeted the two-seat Thunderbird as an upscale model, but the 1958 model year design introduced a rear seat and arguably marked the expansion of a market segment eventually known as personal luxury cars. This class of cars was positioned to emphasize driving comfort and convenience features over handling and high-speed performance.
From 1968 through 1998, Lincoln-Mercury marketed rebadged variants of the Thunderbird as the Continental Mark III, Mark IV, Mark V, Mercury Cougar, Lincoln Mark VII, and Lincoln Mark VIII.
First generation (1955–1957)
The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in February 1953 as a response to Chevrolet’s new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before. Under rapid development, the Thunderbird went from idea to prototype in about a year, being unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954.
It was a two-seat design available with a detachable fiberglass hardtop and a folding fabric top. Production of the Thunderbird began on September 9 of that year, with the car beginning sales as a 1955 model on October 22, 1954. Though sharing some design characteristics with other Fords of the time such as single circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins, the Thunderbird was sleeker in shape and featured a hood scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer not available on other Fords.
It used mechanical components from mass-market Ford models. The Thunderbird’s 102.0 inches (2,591 mm) wheelbase frame was a shortened version used in other Fords and the standard 292 cu in (4.8 L) Y-block V8 came from Ford’s Mercury division