This ’55 Tbird really looks the part of a boulevard cruiser

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Pick of the Day
1955 'Fairbird' was a Pick of the Day in October

First-generation Ford Thunderbirds have been popular with car collectors for quite a while. Though conceived as a competitor for the Chevrolet Corvette, the T’birds flew off in another direction. 

Early Corvettes looked sporty, but were propelled — and not all that quickly — by 6-cylinder engines. But along came a hot-rodding engineer named Zora Arkus-Duntov and the fiberglass-bodied Chevys got V8 engines and headed off to the races.

Meanwhile, from the start, the Thunderbirds were built around V8 power and the performance it provided. But before long, they would grow in bulk and became boulevard cruisers.

The V8 engine

The Pick of the Day is one of those first-generation, two-seater Thunderbirds, a 1955 Ford Thunderbird, but one that was restored with an interesting visual twist.

Although located in Fort Myers, Florida, the car is advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealership on Long Island, New York.  

The dealer’s ad says the car underwent a body-off restoration that began in 2004 and included gloss-black powder coating of “all undercarriage parts.” It also notes that several items from the 1956 model year were used in the restoration, including the side trim from a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.

In a photograph with the advertisement, that trim appears to run from the top of the front fenders, curves partway around the front wheelwells, and then runs along the full length of the car, creating a unique and rather elegant appearance.

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The dealer reports that the car also has leather interior, disc brakes up front, a rebuilt 312cid V8 engine linked to a 3-speed manual transmission, power steering, power windows and seats, a one-of-a-kind hardtop.

Although the car was restored, and has been driven a reported 30,000 miles since that restoration, the original 6-volt electrical system was retained rather than moving to a more contemporary 12-volt setup. 

The dealer is asking $43,500 for this ’55 T’bird. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Although the workmanship appears of high quality, the customization of this classic T-Bird degrades the original flowing lines. It is sure to attract lots of attention at a car show and many derisive laughs.

    • MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!! Just a bit TOO MUCH, OVER THE TOP crap!!
      The extra chrome looks like it sagging the car down, and THE ABSENCE OF THE PORTHOLE WINDOW, a STAPLE OF THE 55-57 Birds….is just sad!! Yep!!

      I’m thinking there’ll be a lot of laughs too!! But well-done on the work…sure hope THATS THE LOOK THE OWNER LOVES, cause the rest of 🇺🇸US🇺🇸 ‘Bird Buddies WOULD NOT WANT IT!!

      Right On Don!! ❤️🇺🇸🚘

  2. The side trim is 55 Ford Fairlane and is not unique to the Crown Victoria. This looks similar to a Ford prototype (from 54 I think).
    Very strange to leave the 6 volt system when you’re customizing the car.

  3. I am sorry to say, it looks like a misfit
    The molding and the port side window really distracts from the look of what the car was

  4. Let me second Don Sinclair’s observations. The car looks to be in excellent condition, but the addition of the side trim destroys its value. The original designed imparted elegance and speed….this just shows bad judgment. As a purchaser, I would take deduct several thousand dollars from my offer, to over the cost of removing the ’55/56 trim and restoring the finish.

    • Someone sure devalued the car by the modifications. To my eye it is out of scale putting a full size car trim on a smaller car. The port hole tops for ’56,’57 were bad enough but large windows???
      Oh well, each to his own.

      • Without seeing the car up close I cannot be sure, but in the early production of Thunderbird a special model called a "Fairbird" was played around with. It essentially was a stock Thunderbird with what looked like fairlane side trim added. The original example of one of these cars that I examined had the trim seamed and pieced together which looked odd. Although I dont know the production figures, very few were made and the idea was discarded very early on. There was even a brochure made for this Fairbird model which in itself is scarce and I have seen before.

  5. Sorry, but this thing looks like the dream of a Phillipino or Indian/Bangladeshi bus driver. Let’s add some bobble head Jesus figures, and perimeter lights. Don’t forget to include the dingleballs around the interior.
    Why would anyone debase such an elegant design? If there’s no accounting for taste, well, there oughta be.
    Sigh.

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