Following the announcement of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car in 1953, Ford responded by developing the Ford Thunderbird which was differentiated from the Corvette by it’s emphasis on luxury and comfort over performance.
Former GM Executive Lewis D. Crusoe and Ford Stylist George Walker found inspiration for the Thunderbird design from a sports car they saw in Paris. They worked with Ford Designer Frank Hershey on the two seater.
Ford Stylist Alden Gibberson was given a Saks suit complete with 2nd pair of trousers as his reward for coming up with the Thunderbird name which was first seen in public at the Detroit Motor Show in early 1954 and went in to production for the 1955 model year.
Despite many competition features like the stone guard grill over covering the front head lights the original Thunderbird was not intended for competition use.
The intake on the bonnet / hood is just for show, as was the 150 mph speedometer fitted to the first series Thunderbirds which had a top speed of around 100mph.
The distinctive Thunderbird rocker covers belie the fact that the 190 hp 4.8 litre / 292 cui Y block V8 was sourced from Fords Mercury division.
The detailing is typical of 1950′s dream cars note the V8 badge incorporates the Y which denotes the engine type.
As I understand it the removable glass fiber hard top was part of the Continental option package …
as was the bumper mounted spare wheel.
The first series Thunderbird out sold it’s Corvette competitor 20 fold with over 16,000 unit’s produced in the first year of production.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Personal Luxury’ Edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !