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September 7, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird production begins
This Day

September 7, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird production begins

Ford's answer to the Corvette, the Thunderbird, began rolling down the assembly line on this day in 1954 for the 1955 model year. The first complete car would leave the factory two days later. While designed to compete with Chevrolet's sports car, Ford marketed the Thunderbird as a personal luxury vehicle. The Blue Oval emphasized its new car's comfort and convenience, letting shoppers discover its sportiness during the test drive. The plan worked. T-Bird sales rose above Corvette some 17 to 1 in 1955. Though successful, executives believed expanding the two-seat T-Bird would also expand sales. They weren't wrong. Above: 1965 Ford Thunderbird By F.G.Bendiks. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Top: First generation Ford Thunderbird by nakhon100 CC BY 2.0 Though the two-seater found continue...
July 1, 2005 – The final Ford Thunderbird
This Day

July 1, 2005 – The final Ford Thunderbird

On this day in 2005 the last Ford Thunderbird rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Wixom, Michigan plant. The Thunderbird was developed in the years following World War II as a competitor to the Chevrolet Corvette, though billed as a personal luxury vehicle. When it hit the market for 1955 it outsold the Corvette 16,000 units to just 700. Above: First generation Ford ThunderbirdTop: Last generation Ford Thunderbird In the decades that followed, the Thunderbird would go through numerous changes, including growing from two seats to four in 1958. In an attempt to capitalize on buyers’ nostalgia, Ford released a retro Thunderbird in 2002 to much fanfare. Despite promising initial sales of the old school T-Bird, the success eventually waned, leading to the car being discontinued. ...
February 19, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird concept is completed
Automotive, This Day

February 19, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird concept is completed

The 1954 Ford Thunderbird concept at the Detroit Auto Show Ford Motor Company knew it needed a response, and fast, when Chevrolet rolled out the Corvette prototype in January 1953. Ford unveiled a plan to launch what would become the Thunderbird the very next month. From idea to rolling reality in just one year, the Ford Thunderbird prototype received its finishing touches on this day in 1954. The concept would debut to the public the following day at the Detroit Auto Show. We featured this 1955 Ford Thunderbird in our first episode of Cars & Bars. Watch here. Henry Ford II and William Clay Ford checking out the Thunderbird concept at the Detroit Auto Show in 1954. The Thunderbird would go into production the next fall and officially go on sale as a 1955 model on October 2...
February 13, 1958 – The four seat Ford Thunderbird debuts
This Day

February 13, 1958 – The four seat Ford Thunderbird debuts

1959 Ford Thunderbird by GPS 56 from New Zealand - CC BY 2.0 The Ford Thunderbird first hit the market in October 1954 as a two seater to compete with the two year old Chevrolet Corvette. Unlike the Corvette, Ford marketed the Baby Bird, as the first generation of T-Birds have come to be known, as a personal luxury vehicle, not a sports car. Focusing on its comfort and convenience proved to be the right route for Ford, as the car found wild success, outselling Corvette nearly 23 to 1 in its first year of production. Between 1955 and 1957 some 50,000 Thunderbirds ended up in driveways around the country. The big wigs upstairs at Ford, particularly whiz kid Robert McNamara, thought it could do better. This led to a complete redesign for 1958, resulting in the four-seat Ford Thunderbird,...
December 13, 1957 – The last first generation Ford Thunderbird
This Day

December 13, 1957 – The last first generation Ford Thunderbird

Ford's answer to the Corvette, the Thunderbird, began rolling off assembly lines in 1954 for the 1955 model year. While designed to compete with Chevrolet's sports car, the Thunderbird was marketed as a personal luxury vehicle. Ford emphasized its new car's comfort and convenience, letting shoppers discover its sportiness during the test drive. It worked, with the Thunderbird outselling the Corvette some 20 to 1 in 1955. Though successful, the two-seat T-Bird had room to grow and the last of the first generation Ford Thunderbirds rolled off the assembly line on this day in 1957. Above: 1965 Ford Thunderbird By F.G.Bendiks. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Top: 1955 Ford Thunderbird by Nminow. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 Though the two-seater found continued success through 1957, engineers and...
October 22, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird sales begin
This Day

October 22, 1954 – Ford Thunderbird sales begin

On the heels of the Chevrolet Corvette debut in January 1953, Ford unveiled the concept for the Thunderbird to the public just one month later. Believing Chevy would begin Corvette begin production in the near future, Ford kicked development of the Thunderbird into high gear. A full scale, painted clay model that closely resembled the production T-Bird debuted by May. Final approval would come the following September after minor tweaks. Engineers scrambled to build a brand new car in near record time. Just one year after introducing the idea of the car, the Ford Thunderbird wowed the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. Production would begin the following September and on this day in 1954 the Thunderbird went on sale. Above: 1960 Ford Thunderbird. By Reinhold Möl...
September 9, 1954 – The First Ford Thunderbird
This Day

September 9, 1954 – The First Ford Thunderbird

Ford's answer to the Corvette, the Thunderbird, began rolling off assembly lines on this day in 1954 for the 1955 model year. The Thunderbird, while aligned to compete with Chevrolet's sports car, was positioned as a personal luxury vehicle. Ford emphasized its new car's comfort and convenience, letting shoppers discover its sportiness during the test drive. It worked, with the Thunderbird outselling the Corvette some 20 to 1 in 1955. Above: 1965 Ford Thunderbird By F.G.Bendiks. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Top: 1955 Ford Thunderbird by Nminow. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 Though the two-seater found continued success through 1957, engineers and designers at Ford thought they could sell far more than 23,000 of the cars in a year. Executive Robert McNamara called for a four-seater version, ...

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