In February 1953, exactly a month after the introduction of Harley Earl’s Corvette design in the first “Motorama” concept auto exhibition in New York in January 1953, the work on the design of the first post-war Ford sports car started.

Unlike the Jaguar XK 120 and other European sports cars that inspired it, this car featured a completely American style; against 300 candidate designs that reached the finale, out of 5000 submitted, it was named after the legend of the American natives, the bird that brings the thunder and rain, the “Thunderbird”, realizing a dream.

Unlike the Corvette with its fiberglass body, the T-Bird featured a sheet-steel body and 8-cylinder engine. Offering luxury and performance together, the car strayed far from the sports concept, creating its own class and trend. The removable fiberglass roof in the standard style was taken from the Continental Mk II. It featured the 292 cu.in. 193 bhp V8 Mercury engine, an improved version of 1954’s Ford Y-Block engine, and a 3-speed transmission, 4-barrel carburetor and double exhaust as standard.

The original model’s engineering was by 1953 Ford’s technical expert Bill Burnett. The new T-Bird sold 16,155 numbers for 2,944 Dollars in 1955. In doing so, it heavily outsold its GM rival: its sales were 24 times that of the Corvette, which sold 674 for 2,799 Dollars the same year. Purchased in Canada and taken to Florida for restoration, our Thunderbird is no.042: alongside the 1954 Corvette in our Museum, it attended the Coppa Milano-Sanremo Rally (First Historic Revival) organized by MAC Group on 10-13 April 2003.


  • Make Ford
  • Model Thunderbird
  • Model / Body Number 40A
  • Body Style Convertible
  • Year 1955
  • Origin U.S.A.
  • Production Total 16,155
  • Passenger Capacity 2


  • Engine Ford Thunderbird, 292 V8, OHV, Y-Block, Gasoline, 291.6 cu. inch, 4-barrel, 198 bhp, 4400 rpm
  • Bore x Stroke 3.75 x 3.30 inch
  • Transmission Automatic (Ford-O-Matic), 3-speed, floor shift
  • Top Speed 108 mph
  • Acceleration 0-60 mph, 9.8 s
  • Body / Frame Steel / Steel, box section
  • Suspension Front Coil springs
  • Rear  Semi-elliptic leafs
  • Electrical System 6 Volt, 110 Ampere
  • Brakes Hydraulic, 4-wheels drum
  • Wheelbase 102 inch
  • Overall Length 175.3 inch
  • Overall Width  70.3 inch
  • Overall Height 50.5 inch
  • Shipping Weight  2980 lbs
  • Front / Rear Tread 56 inch / 56 inch
  • Tires 6.70 x 15, tubeless