The Ford Thunderbird is an Iconic car...no colledction is complete without at least one. Three men are generally credited with creating the original Thunderbird: Lewis D. Crusoe, a retired GM executive lured out of retirement by Henry Ford II; George Walker, chief stylist and a Ford vice-president; and Frank Hershey, a Ford designer. Crusoe and Walker met in France in October 1951. Walking in the Grand Palais in Paris, Crusoe pointed at a sports car and asked Walker, 'Why can’t we have something like that?'
Walker promptly telephoned Ford's HQ and told designer Frank Hershey about the idea. Hershey took the idea and began working on the vehicle. The concept was for a two-passenger open car, with a target weight of 2525 lb, an Interceptor V8 and a top speed of over 100 mph. Crusoe saw a painted clay model on, which corresponded closely to the final car; he gave the car the go-ahead in September 1953 after comparing it with current European trends. Unlike the Corvette, the Thunderbird was never a full-blown sporting vehicle; Ford's description was personal luxury car, and the company essentially created this market segment. There was some difficulty in naming the car, with suggestions ranging from the exotic to the ridiculous (Hep Cat, Beaver, Detroiter, Runabout, Arcturus, Savile, El Tigre, and Coronado). Crusoe offered a $250 suit to anyone who could come up with a better name. Stylist Alden "Gib" Giberson submitted Thunderbird as part of a list. Giberson got the idea during a lightning storm when he saw an illusion of a bird getting hit by lightning, but this happened because of his view. Giberson never claimed his prize, settling for a $95 suit and an extra pair of trousers from Saks Fifth Avenue. According to Palm Springs Life magazine, the car's final name came not from the Native American symbol as one might expect, but from an ultra-exclusive housing tract in what would later be incorporated as Rancho Mirage, California: Thunderbird Heights
The car was shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 1954. The first production car came off the line in September, 1954, and went on sale in October as a 1955 model, and sold briskly; 3,500 orders were placed in the first ten days of sale. Ford had only projected building 10,000; eventual 1955 sales were 16,155.
The Thunderbird was revised for 1957 with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The 312 cu in V8 became the Thunderbird's standard engine, and now produced 245 horsepower . Other, even more powerful versions of the 312 cu in V8 were available including one with two four-barrel Holley carburetors and another with a Paxton supercharger delivering 300 horsepower . Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21,380 units for 1957, company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for 1958.
The '57 is generally considered the most desirable first generation T Bird.
This very nice rust free example has been in the care of a local club member for 30 years. A Tbird Expert, he restored the car with an eye towards driving it. The motor was completely rebuilt from a 292 with a 312 crank and pistons and rods, a 3/4 Iske Cam, Ported and Polished high compression 312 heads, solid lifters, bigger valves, and a Holley Street Avenger 570 CFM Carb. It has a 9" 3:56 Rear End, a bigger fan, 5 row Radiator with original date coded tanks, an aluminum bigger Water Pump, and an Aluminum Munford Intake- again polished. All the suspension and brakes have recently been rebuilt or serviced. The car is a proven long distance Tour car well capable of over 100 MPH and quite comfortable at 75-80 MPH all day long.
Finished in what at the time was the closest match he could find to the original Inka Gold- the Paint, Interior, and Chrome are in excellent condition with only minor chipping on the paint here and there, all of which are easily touched up. Equipped with Town and Country Radio (with modern AM/FM guts), Power Windows , Heater, Both Tops, this is one attractive Tbird. The car runs exceptionally well, and is perfect for tours and local cruise-ins-this is a car you and drive and show immediately.
If you are looking for an Early T Bird that fits the descrition more of a sports car than a personal luxury car- a true driver's car- here is your car!.