1956 Ford Thunderbird

Sold For $38,500

Amelia Island

Chassis No.
  • Highly sought-after first generation Thunderbird
  • Only 700 miles since extensive body-off restoration
  • Porthole hardtop and soft top
225 bhp, 312 cu.in. overhead valve V-8 engine with four-barrel carburetor, two-speed Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, independent coil spring front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic rear springs, and power-assisted hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

Introduced in 1955, Ford’s Thunderbird was targeted at people looking for a roadster with more room and power, as well as a distinctly higher level of luxury, than could be offered by the typical imported two-seater. Henry Ford II decided to call it a “personal car,” and a new automotive niche was born.

The Thunderbird met buyer aspirations, offering a standard V-8 engine, power steering and power brakes, and an optional automatic transmission. Refinement was epitomized with a choice of tops, complemented by roll-up windows, and styling that was exciting yet tasteful. For 1956, the spare wheel was mounted on the rear bumper, Continental-style, a feature that would, as it turned out, be exclusive to that year’s Thunderbirds.

The present owner of this immaculate 1956 Thunderbird acquired it several years ago, after it underwent an extensive body-off restoration. The body was taken to bare metal and re-sprayed in factory-correct Fiesta Red, topped with three clear coats, while the interior was restored in matching red and white with a period-correct radio. The suspension was fully rebuilt, and new, narrow whitewall tires were installed. Equipped with the original, optional 312-cubic inch V-8 and automatic transmission, the car has covered only 700 miles since the completion of the restoration, and it recently underwent further freshening by Peggy Craft Restorers, of Tennessee. Notably, the car is equipped with both its original removable hardtop, featuring the “portholes” made famous by American Graffiti, as well as with a soft top added during restoration.

The first-generation two-seat Thunderbird had an exclusivity all its own, produced for only three years before being replaced with a four-seat model. They are always popular, always desirable, and always valuable. This is an opportunity to acquire a very fine example.

Lot Number

Suggested lots in Amelia Island 2013


6 December 2017

New York - ICONS

Sotheby's 10th Floor Galleries, New York, New York

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18 - 19 January 2018


Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona

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