1958 Ford Thunderbird
8-cyl. 352cid/300hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
By 1957, the Ford Thunderbird was still well out-pacing the Chevrolet Corvette in sales, and Ford Executives including Robert McNamara wanted to push it even further. This was accomplished by leaning into the T-Bird’s true nature as a luxurious cruiser rather than the purer European-style sports car the Corvette was initially trying to emulate.
One of the mandates for the new 1958 Ford T-Bird was to make it a four-seater. The new “Square Bird” was built using unibody construction, making it the first Ford to employ this method (along with Lincolns of that year). It also brought full-size luxury features to a mid-size layout. This new design was almost a foot longer, and 1,000 pounds heavier than its predecessor.
The ’58 T-Bird had a longer, more dramatic design. It now featured quad headlights, a low-slung grille, and a rocket-like character line running from the rear bumper, across the doors. Out back, the T-Bird continued to feature pronounced fins, and quad taillights were housed in their own “pods” with mesh bezels. The license plate was recessed between these pods, and the exhaust outlets were moved out of the rear bumper. The tailpipes were now hidden below the rear bumper.
Engine options were updated as well, featuring a new 325 cid FE-Block V-8 as the base engine. It made 300 horsepower, sent through either a 3-speed manual or a Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission.
Ford sold 37,892 examples of the Thunderbird in 1958, making it the best sales year of the T-Bird at that point.