HomePick of the DayMystery solved: Pick of the Day ’55 T’bird was special edition

Mystery solved: Pick of the Day ’55 T’bird was special edition


Back in mid-October, one of our Pick of the Day selections was a 1955 Ford Thunderbird that appeared to have distinctive chrome trim, much like that on the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.

We couldn’t find reference to such a vehicle and there was considerable debate among those commenting on the car and its trim.

But now the mystery has been solved, thanks to an email from Alex Soultania, concours judge and keeper of the KdFregistry, a website which is dedicated not to Thunderbirds but to the 1938-1944 KdF-Wagen Beetle.

“I had judged 55-57 T’Birds at Hershey and never heard of this version (with the Fairlane type trim) before until a well-known jazz musician friend of mine drove his over for me to check out,” Soultania writes. 

“He told me the ‘Fairbird’ story and I looked into. The ‘Fairbird’ name doesn’t appear on the (Ford) brochure and I’m still not sure if that was a nickname or what, but pretty interesting I thought. 

“It’s possible that the ’55 cars were designed to have this trim then they just scraped this idea. Much the way the earliest 1950 Buick Roadmasters first started out with straight trim but most had the more ornate sweep spear side trim.”

Soultania attached a copy of the Ford advertising brochure for the “Fairbird,” which we’re sharing here. And those with any interest in the early years of the beloved Volkswagen Beetle will want to check out the KdFregistry website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
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, 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.


  1. Thanks for the great article on the TBIRD. Being a senior I can appreciate that info. O now own a o5 Aniversary edition Torch Red…fun to drive..

  2. The only 55 Bird I have ever seen pics of was Louis Caruso’s car. From my understanding it was a styling idea that did not fly.

  3. It would be SO COOL if Ford does a Reissue, 55,6,7. Unlike the 2003 etc. Version that was an embarrassment for T Bird owners.
    The SUV/Crossover trend is going to bite Detroit in the butt.
    A retro Bird, 450ish HP, V8, under 50k, guaranteed that coupe will have a waiting list.
    Or even better, an E.Bird!!!!

    • When I was working for AT&T in Van Nuys. California (a suburb north of Los Angeles) in the early 90’s i use to drive by a home with a black 1955 "Fairbird" parked in the driveway everyday. I thought the Fairlane chrome strip was an option for the Thunderbird.

        • The 55 hardtop was made as a prototype and given to Louis Caruso. The Fairlane trim was also a prototype and only a few were built.

          • The story I read was the head of Thunderbird Development went to Europe and in his absence other peopke added the Fairlane Check Mark.
            Upon his return he threw a fit and had it removed. As far as I know NO T-Birds were built with this.
            It is possible some prototypes got loose but more likely a Ford dealer did this.

        • It is my understanding that a handful of early Ford Thunderbird samples were built with the Fairlane trim. According to “legend” they were built in 1954 but the trim was never offered on production units. The idea got as far as some very early ads that showed the car with the Fairlane trim. I have never heard of an accounting of how many cars featured the trim.

    • My information on what was known as the "Fairbird" is that the trim was a dealer-installed option. There’s one here in the Marion, IN area. That particular car that I’m speaking of has a continental kit which does not look good at all.

  4. I have seen the brochure on the internet and I thought through what I have read that Caruso and H Ford II were 2 that got the car but nothing was said about dealer installation or others being produced. Interesting article. I don’t like the top on the cover pic or it without skirts.

  5. In Ray Millers 1973 book entitled THUNDERBIRD, an illustrated history, he debunks this Fairbird story. Yes, there were a few early ads published but only 2 prototypes were ever produced, 1 white and 1 black. None sold to the public.The book includes enough photo’s that somebody could try and duplicate one. There were subtle differences between the car above and the actual prototypes indicating that the above car is indeed a fake, designed to boost its value. The serial number alone would be enough to debunk this story.The roof is a custom fake as well. .
    Charles ODonnell

  6. Maybe this will end it. A few years before his death, I got the chance to sit in Franklin Q. Hershey’s living room and chat with him about cars and car design. Frank was the head of design at Ford for the Thunderbird. He was away on a trip. When he returned and saw the Fairlane Spear on the first production Thunderbirds he liked to popped a gasket. He had them remove The Spear from all following production Birds. That is why only the earliest serial numbered Birds have the Fairlane Spear.

  7. I bought a ‘55 tbird that was refurbished to the identical prototype. My understanding is there is only about 5 existing.

  8. I own a “Fairbird”, or one of the few prototypes…..whichever story you choose to believe.
    Its sure an object that gets attention, and arguments.


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