1959 Ford Thunderbird
8-cyl. 430cid/350hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
For 1959, the exterior changes to the Ford Thunderbird were more subtle than the major redesign of the previous year, with various ornamental and detail changes. The mesh grille was replaced with a slotted or billet-style grille. The “Thunderbird” lettering was also moved from behind the headlights to the “rocket” character line that ran from the rear bumper to the doors, the tip of which was given a chrome cover to make it more visually pronounced.
The 1959 Ford T-Bird was available as a coupe or a convertible that stowed neatly, without a noticeable boot. This was also the first year that a fully-automatic convertible top operation was introduced.
Under the sheet metal, the rear coils were replaced with semi-elliptical springs and a Hotchkiss drive. Inside, meanwhile, the ’59 T-Bird was now available with optional leather upholstery for the first time. All of these touches went towards making the Thunderbird more luxurious, more comfortable, and more personal.
Up front, a new V-8 engine was made available: Ford’s massive 7.0-liter (430 cid) MEL-family (Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln), making 345 horsepower. Only 1,168 Thunderbirds were ordered with this “J-Code” setup, and they are very valuable today.
Buyers could still get the base engine, which was the 300-hp 352 cid V-8. Power was routed through either a 3-speed manual with overdrive, or Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission.
The year 1959 was a smashing one for T-Bird sales. For the 1959 model year, a total of 67,456 Ford Thunderbirds were built.