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Lot : Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Vintage, Classic & Collectors Motor Vehicles, BCA (22 April 2008)

The concept of the Thunderbird was born out of a chance meeting in 1951 between Ford Chief Stylist George Walker and Lewis D Crusoe, a retired GM executive in Paris. Whilst strolling through the city, Crusoe pointed to a sports car and said, Why can't we have something like that? Walker relayed the message to Ford Designer Frank Hershey who immediately started working on the concept of an open two seater, powered by a V8 and with 100mph capability. Crusoe was invited to view a clay model of the concept in May 1953 and the full go-ahead was given that September. Though never a sporting vehicle, the Ford description was personal luxury car, a market they created with this model.Production commenced in September 1954, following the first public showing at the previous February's Detroit Auto Show. The Thunderbird was quite a sensation and the first year's sales target of 10,000 cars was exceeded by sixty percent. For '56 the styling was revised with more trunk space given and the spare now mounted upright on the rear, to improve rearward visibility. 'Portholes' were offered in the rear quarters of the fibreglass hard-top as a no cost option. For 1957 a more radical make over was applied; again the trunk space was enlarged with a longer rear deck, the spare was put back inside, much improving ride and handling. The instrument panel from the full size saloons was incorporated along with an engine turned insert; the rear lights were enlarged while the rear fins were enhanced with the Thunderbird scripts now moved to the front of the car. This was to be the last year for production of the 'Classic' or 'Little Birds' as, despite the success, Ford Management wished to broaden the appeal of the car to families with a full four-passenger car.Offered today is a magnificent example of the most desirable of Thunderbirds, the 1957 Convertible, complete with 'porthole' hard-top. Finished in black with black trim, the car was originally supplied in Cleveland Ohio. It remained with its original lady owner, who had moved to Arizona, until 2000. It then passed to her daughter and was put into storage before being sold from her estate in 2003. It then underwent a complete nut and bolt restoration, including rebuilding of the 312 cu-in V8 and Ford-O-Matic transmission with every internal part replaced with remanufactured or new old stock parts. The wire wheels are new old stock rebuilt and re-plated, all the chrome work was replaced or re-plated and every nut and bolt replaced. Shortly after this was completed the car was purchased by the current owner and subsequently imported to the UK in 2006. On completion of the restoration, this matching numbers car was appraised as a '99 plus' point car and benefits from the retro-fitting of a genuine Ford air conditioning system, along with disc brakes and a special aluminium radiator. Careful storage and minimal use has ensured that it remains in the same condition as when restored and that little has been added to the 65,000 miles from new, warranted by the original owner's estate.

Lot Details
Auction Vintage, Classic & Collectors Motor Vehicles
BCA, Surrey
Lot Number-
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2