1956 FORD THUNDERBIRD CONVERTIBLE
Chassis No. P6FH 278388
Fiesta Red with matched red and white interior
Engine: V8, overhead valve, 312 cu. in., 198bhp at 4,400rpm; Gearbox: Fordomatic 3-speed; Suspension: front, upper and lower A arms, coil springs, rear, live axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.
The classic Thunderbird was introduced in 1955, and was Ford's response to the Chevrolet Corvette that appeared in 1953. Although it had the same wheelbase (102 in.) as its rival, the Thunderbird was designed to be more comfortable and luxurious than GM's Corvette. Ford knew that the two seater V8 was going to attract a wider audience than the Corvette's racing/performance oriented market. The Thunderbird design incorporated Ford features found on other models to create a product recognition with the hope of encouraging sales of other Ford cars as well. The universal appeal of the styling made the Thunderbird an instant success and the 1955 model out-sold the more expensive Corvette by 24 to 1!
The Thunderbird was named after the god of rain and prosperity worshipped by America's South West Indians. It was built with a sturdy steel body, roll-up windows, either a hard top or snug fitting fold down soft top or both, and a strong Mercury V8 engine. With European style and American comfort, convenience and go, it was no wonder the Thunderbird proved to be irresistible.
Though the 1955 and 1956 Thunderbirds shared the same standard chassis, body styling was altered to include an exterior spare mounted at the rear. The new Continental kit gave a stylish finish to the Thunderbird's compact design and provided ample trunk space for weekend luggage and storage. Other changes to the body included the addition of cowl vents on each fender side, a new rear bumper configuration and wind wings mounted on the windshield. Like the 1955 model, options were readily available on the 1956 Thunderbird as well, however list prices suggest the popularity of the car led to a slight price hike for many of the added conveniences. Notably new design improvements like tinted glass, Life-Guard safety equipment and an improved three speed manual transmission were all included at no cost.
In a collection so overwhelmed with Corvettes it is perhaps an interesting comparison side by side to see what they were competing against, and this stock example of the definitive T-Bird achieves just that. A good restored example, with clean interior and tidy engine bay, the Ford is equipped with heat and air-conditioning and a radio, but sadly lacks a hard or soft top and at the time of writing we were not able to access the trunk.
In the present ownership for approaching 20 years, we do advise that owing to its display storage and lack of use, that full re-commissioning be undertaken prior to the car being used on the road. WITHOUT RESERVE