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History of the 1955-1956 Ford Thunderbird
Ford’s original two-seat Thunderbird, inspired by Chevrolet’s Corvette, went into production on September 9, 1954. Like Chevy’s fiberglass sports car, the steel-bodied 1955 T-bird rolled on a 102-inch wheelbase, but the similarities ended there. Save for some early applications, a removable fiberglass hardtop was standard, as were roll-up windows and V-8 power, all features unavailable to Corvette customers early on. The Thunderbird V-8 was a 292 cubic-inch Y-block topped by a single four-barrel carburetor. Output was 193 horsepower with the standard three-speed manual, and 198 horses when the Ford-O-Matic automatic was installed. More power boosts followed in 1956 as the standard 292 V-8 was up-rated to 202 horsepower and an optional 312-cid Y-block appeared with either 215 or 225 horses. Optional dual carburetors were introduced later that year to help the 312 reach 260 horsepower. Additional updates for 1956 included available “portholes” for the removable hardtop and a Continental-style spare tire carrier out back.
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