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FROM THE MISSOULA AUTO MUSEUM COLLECTION: Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale WITHOUT RESERVE and SOLD to the highest bidder January 19th – 22nd, 2017 at Russo and Steele’s 17th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Please contact us for more information.
Based on a February 1954 show car, Ford’s two-seater Thunderbird was introduced on October 22 that year, and crowned a very successful year with Ford selling 1,451,157 cars in the model year, its second best year in company history. Launched nearly two years after Chevrolet introduced its fiberglass-bodied Corvette, the Thunderbird was intended from the outset as a stylish and powerful two-seater for cruising enjoyment and personal transportation with no sporting pretensions. Ford’s product planners were correct, with the Thunderbird far more popular on the showroom floor than the competitor from Chevrolet; so much so that Thunderbird sales outpaced those for the Corvette by a stunning factor of 23 to one for 1955!
Compared to Chevrolet’s haphazard plastic Corvette, with its six-cylinder engine and flapping side-curtains, the T-Bird was low-slung and of all-metal construction, with a powerful 292 cubic inch V-8, toll-up windows, and a removable hardtop. A total of 16,155 were sold that first year, as opposed to just 700 Corvettes. The 1956 T-Bird was relatively unchanged, although the hard top gained “porthole” quarter-windows, the spare became a “Continental” kit to gain trunk space, and an enlarged 312 cubic-inch “Thunderbird Special” V-8 engine was optional. Curiously, sales dipped slightly to 15,631, possibly a function of oil-supply shocks and geopolitical concerns arising from the Suez Crisis.
An extremely rare offering without reserve, this rotisserie-restored 1956 Ford Thunderbird is finished in desirable Sunset Coral over a white interior. Beautifully presented, it is offered complete with both hard and soft tops. Ford’s interpretation of the two-seater personal-luxury automobile concept proved highly successful, from its mid-1950s introduction through the present day. Attractive and desirable, this particular car from 1956 is a very fine example from the penultimate model year for the celebrated original two-seat “Little Bird.” As captivating today as when new, its represents a unique opportunity for astute collectors.