Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Forgotten 1955, 1956 Ford Thunderbirds


Rotting first-gen Ford Thunderbirds suffer classic case of neglect. Dick Vinal, of the Atlanta, Georgia-area, sent these sad T-Bird photos to junkyardlife. "It's hard to believe that my good friend allowed seven 1955-'56 Thunderbirds to rot away," Vinal said. Being a classic car fan, Vinal made a bid to save one of the T-Birds, located in Riverdale, Ga., decades ago. "I tried to buy the yellow '55 Thunderbird 20 years before this photo was taken."
 
This 1955 Ford Thunderbird is one of 16,155 built.

Sadly, after 20 years in the elements, none of the Fords were worth restoring or even parting out. "The owner eventually sold all seven Thunderbirds, as you see them in these photos, for $5K!" The cars were located in Riverdale, Ga., about an hour southeast of Atlanta.

Red '55 Ford Thunderbird. No porthole in removable roof – a change that distinguish the '55 and '56 model T-Birds.

Vinal was undeterred in his quest to own a first-generation Ford Thunderbird. "I bought a '57 T-Bird project car on Ebay and restored it from the ground up." Like most automotive restorations, time, money and patience will be tested. Vinal says, "It took me eight years but it turned out great."

These first-gen Ford Thunderbirds spent decades in the woods.

Dick Venal in his recently restored 1957 Ford Thunderbird.


1955, 1956, 1957 Ford Thunderbird Production – spotter's guide

  • 1955 – 16,155 total; Crossed flags and Ford emblem on nose, rounded tail fins
  • 1956 – 15,631 total; spare tire moved to continental-style rear bumper, portholes added to removable roof   
  • 1957 – 21,380 total; slanted sharp-edged tail fins, larger grille and tail lamps, spare tire moved back inside trunk 

More tips to identify first-gen Thunderbirds at portholeauthority.com 

Send your photos, tips and stories to junkyardlife