Vintage red Thunderbird car on countryside road.
Vintage red car interior with classic steering wheel.
Vintage red Ford Thunderbird parked on rural road.

Ford Thunderbird ‘1956

Chassis nr. P6FH281154
5.1 liter original Y-Block V8, 3-speed automatic transmission
Fiesta Red exterior color, red-white interior
Imported to Finland from California in 2004 by the current owner.
Comprehensively restored with high standards.
Registered as a museum vehicle, inspection valid 08/2025.
59 000 €

In the 1950s, the popularity of sports cars grew also in the United States.  Sports cars were imported from Europe and as moving vehicles they were especially brought by soldiers returning to the United States from abroad. European sports cars starred both in movies and in the real life of actors.

American car manufacturers also wanted to enter the booming sports car market, and General Motors was one of the first to do so. GM introduced the Chevrolet Corvette at the 1953 Motorama show and Corvette became the show’s number one favorite. Ford didn’t just watch from the side, the decision to take the already roughly planned sports car into production was made quickly. The sales figures of the first Corvettes remained low – only 314 cars were made in 1953, but the symbolic meaning for Chevrolet was greater.

A year and a half after the introduction of the Corvette, Ford introduced its first sports car, the Thunderbird, in the fall of 1954 – clay models of the European-style sports car had already been seen earlier that year.

Thunderbird was luxurious and comfortable, efficient and sleek in the American way. It was designed for spectacular and pleasant cruising and touring, not for racetracks like European sports cars often were. The Ford, on the other hand, had luxuries such as power steering and powered brakes, as well as a heater and radio.

At first, Thunderbird bodies were manufactured in Philadelphia at the Budd Company factory, which had also been found to work for other small-production Fords. Later, Thunderbird also got its own production line at Ford factories. Ford’s X-frame was used as the chassis and was modified to fit a sports car, with a wheelbase of 102 inches. Thunderbird had coil springs in the front, a rigid axle with a leaf springs in the back. The engine was Mercury’s 4.8-liter Y-Block V8, the displacement of which increased in subsequent models. A scoop was shaped into the hood for the carburetor air cleaner. The first generation Thunderbird was produced for three years and became both a sales success and an undisputed classic of American automotive design.

This particular ‘1956 Thunderbird was sold as new in California, where the current owner, N.Rubanin, bought the car to Finland in 2004. Belonging to the year model, the car has a 225 horsepower 5.1 liter Mercury V8, paired with a three-speed Fordomatic automatic.

The car was acquired from the United States in a restored condition. The car was freshly repainted and technically in excellent condition. However, the current owner wanted his car to be as perfect as possible and ended up restoring the car thoroughly. The rust free California body has been totally restored and repainted in the original Fiesta Red color at Benefit Auto Klassika.

All the upholsteries of seats, doors and floors were renewed, the door, window and lock mechanisms were renovated. Many of the metal parts were cleaned and passivated and seals and interior chrome parts were renewed. The original hard top with a port hole side window was also restored and painted in the original shade of white. The white vinyl roof was also renewed.

The car’s electrics and engine hoses and pipes have been renewed. Thunderbid has been serviced and restored regularly by workshops specializing in American classics. The maintenances and repairs are documented and the original spare parts and repair manuals are included in the sale.

The original details of the 1956 model, such as the Continental Kit spare wheel rack, the air deflectors at the ends of the windshield and the exhaust outlets located at the ends of the bumper, are preserved.

The car’s engine works excellently, runs smoothly and feels powerful and healthy. The transmission shifts properly. Thunderbird is very comfortable and pleasant to drive.

Thunderbird is located in Vantaa – 25 minutes from Helsinki–Vantaa Airport. Views by appointment.

Worldwide shipping with generous rates.

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