About this vehicle

The 1955 Thunderbird was the first car to be promoted as a “personal car”. It was “sporty” but not designed to be a true sports car in the European tradition. The fact that an impractical two-passenger luxury vehicle like this could exist at all reflects on the post-war prosperity that the nation was experiencing in the 1950’s. 

In 1953 Ford secretly launched a team to develop a competitor for the Corvette. The Thunderbird had a V-8 engine from the start. It also had an all-steel body with a fashionable wrap-around windshield (great for banging knees when passengers entered the vehicle). The car was available with either a manual or an automatic transmission. A removable fiberglass hardtop was standard equipment, and a folding convertible top could be added as an option. In contrast to the first Corvettes, luxury features such as power steering, power brakes, power seats and power windows were available and were frequently ordered. 

The Thunderbird went on sale in October of 1954 and quickly outsold its rival, the Corvette. Ford offered the two-passenger Thunderbird for 1955, 1956 and 1957. A larger four passenger Thunderbird was offered from 1958, through 1997. The two-passenger version returned from 2002 to 2005.  The Elliott’s Thunderbird was donated in 2012 by the Alan Bernstein family.


  • Engine: V-8, 292 cubic inch displacement, (referred to as The “Y” Block), pushrod actuated overhead valves.

  • Horsepower: 198

  • Transmission: Three speed, “Ford-O-Matic” automatic transmission

  • Original price: $2,994.00 (excluding options)

  • Equipment on the Elliott car: Power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seat, fog lamps, tachometer, wire wheel covers, accessory soft top, AM “Town & Country” signal seeking radio