- 1955 is the first year of production of the Thunderbird.
- It was created by Ford to compete with the Corvette.
- In the first year, Thunderbirds out sold Corvettes.
- Thunderbird was first introduced as a sports car, then advertising quickly changed to promote it as a personal luxury car.
The Thunderbird was first introduced at the Detroit Automobile Show on February 20, 1954. Although at the start it was referred to as a “completely new kind of sports car,” Ford’s advertising quickly dropped the sports car theme and promoted the Thunderbird as a personal luxury car. Production started on September 9, 1954, and 3,546 units were built that year. These were designated as 1955 models and are included in the 1955 model year’s overall production of 16,155 units.
With an overhead valve V-8 engine, four barrel carburetor and roll-up windows, the Thunderbird offered features not found on its immediate competition, the Chevrolet Corvette. Although these items were soon introduced on the 1956 Corvette, the Thunderbird was still the better seller. A major factor was Thunderbird’s all-steel body that was better accepted by the public than the Corvette’s experimental fiberglass bodies.
The Thunderbird came with the hardtop as standard equipment, but could be ordered either with a convertible top in place of the hardtop, or in addition to it. The cost was $75 in place of the hardtop or $290 in addition to it. The Thunderbird is named for a legendary bird known to Native Americans as a good luck omen.