Ford’s T-Bird had sold 16,155 numbers in 1955, and for 1956 underwent many detail changes. Technically, the most important changes were a stiffening chassis, the addition of linked wishbone arms to coil springs to soften the suspension, and the upgrading of the electrical system to 12 Volt. The enhancement of the 193 bhp engine to 202 bhp as standard and the addition of the new 312 cu.in. V8 engine also increased the performance. This new engine achieved 225 bhp, delivered through a new automatic transmission. Visually, the difference with the 1955 model which stands out at first sight is the optional “Porthole” on both sides of the hardtop, allowing better visibility around the driver. Additionally, other changes included ventilation windows, ventilation covers on the front fender and on the rear bumper, which concealed exhaust ports for hidden exhausts: these were redesigned due to the spare tire being removed from the trunk as part of the “Continental Kit” to improve trunk space.

1956 saw the introduction of a range of performance and safety features for all Ford models. These innovations, called “Life-Saving Design”, were integral to the ‘56 T-Birds. The steering wheel column was shortened to prevent it protruding into the driver’s chest, and given a concave shape. Optionally, the tops of the dashboard and the sun-visors were padded giving crash protection, breakaway rear view mirror and crash proof door locks. The Thunderbird continued to use numerous standard parts from ‘56 Fords, such as taillights, without change.

The Thunderbird Convertible in our Museum was ordered by a French aristocrat in Ford “Peacock Blue” with many accessories, and it was later sold to a Canadian politician. Purchased from the Canadian politician and brought to Florida and then to Istanbul for restoration, the car is one of our rarest pieces, as only 15,631 were manufactured. The T-Bird starred in James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly movies of the period. The Convertible sold in 1956 for 3,151 Dollars.


  • Make Ford
  • Model Thunderbird
  • Model / Body Number 40A
  • Body Style Convertible
  • Year 1956
  • Origin U.S.A.
  • Production Total 15,631
  • Passenger Capacity 2


  • Engine Ford Thunderbird Special, 312 V8, OHV, Y-Block, Gasoline, 312.1 cu. inch, 4-barrel, 225 bhp, 4600 rpm
  • Bore x Stroke 3.80 x 3.44 inch
  • Transmission Automatic (Ford-O-Matic), 3-speed, floor shift
  • Top Speed 112 mph
  • Acceleration 0-60 mph, 8.9 s
  • Body / Frame Steel / Steel, box section
  • Suspension Front Independent, Ball Joint with coil springs
  • Rear Semi-elliptic leaf springs
  • Electrical System 12 Volt, 65 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 3088 lbs
  • Front / Rear Tread 56 inch / 56 inch
  • Tires 6.70 x 15, tubeless, 4-ply rating