Ford Thunderbird (colloquially called the T-Bird) is a personal luxury car produced by Ford from model years 1955 to 1997 and 2002 to 2005 throughout eleven distinct generations.

Introduced as a two-seat convertible, the Thunderbird was produced in a variety of body configurations. These included a four-seat hardtop coupe, four-seat convertible, five-seat convertible and hardtop, four-door pillared hardtop sedan, six-passenger hardtop coupe, and five-passenger pillared coupe, with the final generation designed again as a two-seat convertible.

Ford targeted the two-seat Thunderbird as an upscale model, but the design introduced for 1958 featured a rear seat and arguably marked expansion of a market segment eventually known as personal luxury cars. An American interpretation of the grand tourer, personal luxury cars were built with a higher emphasis on driving comfort and convenience features over handling and high-speed performance. From 1968 to 1998, Lincoln-Mercury marketed rebadged variants of the Thunderbird as the Continental Mark III, Mark IV, Mark V, Mercury Cougar, Lincoln Mark VII, and Lincoln Mark VIII.

First generation (1955–1957)

1957 Ford Thunderbird

The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in February 1953 as a response to Chevrolet's new sports car, the Corvette, which was publicly unveiled in prototype form just a month before. Under rapid development, the Thunderbird went from idea to prototype in about a year, being unveiled to the public at the Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. It was a two-seat design available with a detachable glass-fiber hardtop and a folding fabric top. Production of the Thunderbird began on September 9 of that year, with the car beginning sales as a 1955 model on October 22, 1954. Though sharing some design characteristics with other Fords of the time, such as single, circular headlamps and tail lamps and modest tailfins, the Thunderbird was sleeker in shape and featured a hood scoop and a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer not available on other Fords. It utilized mechanical components from mass-market Ford models. The Thunderbird's 102.0 inches (2,591 mm) wheelbase frame was a shortened version used in other Fords and the standard 292 cu in (4.8 L) Y-block V8 came from Ford's Mercury division.

Though inspired by, and positioned directly against, the Corvette, Ford billed the Thunderbird as a personal car, putting a greater emphasis on the car's comfort and convenience features rather than its inherent sportiness.

The Thunderbird sold exceptionally well in its first year. In fact, the Thunderbird outsold the Corvette by more than 23-to-one for 1955 with 16,155 Thunderbirds sold against 700 Corvettes, and 2,200 Studebaker Speedsters.

With the Thunderbird considered a success, few changes were made to the car for the 1956 model year. The most notable change was moving the spare tire to a continental-style rear bumper to make more storage room in the trunk and a new 12-volt electrical system.

The addition of the weight at the rear caused steering issues. Among the few other changes were new paint colors, the addition of circular porthole windows as standard in the fiberglass roof to improve rearward visibility, and a 312 cu in (5.1 L) Y-block V8 rated at 215 hp (160 kW) when mated to a 3-speed manual transmission or 225 hp (168 kW) when mated to a Ford-O-Matic 3-speed automatic transmission; this transmission featured a "low gear", which was accessible manually via the gear selector. When in "Drive", it was a 2-speed automatic transmission (similar to Chevrolet's Powerglide). The Low gear could also be accessed with wide open throttle. 1956 was also the year Ford added their new lifeguard safety package.

The Thunderbird was revised for 1957 with a reshaped front bumper, a larger grille and tailfins, and larger tail lamps. The instrument panel was heavily re-styled with round gauges in a single pod, and the rear of the car was lengthened, allowing the spare tire to be positioned back in the trunk.

The 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 became the Thunderbird's standard engine, and was now rated at 245 hp (183 kW). Other, more powerful versions of the 312 cu in (5.1 L) V8 were available including one with two four-barrel Holley carburetors (VIN code "E") and another with a Paxton supercharger rated at 300 hp (224 kW) (VIN code "F"). Though Ford was pleased to see sales of the Thunderbird rise to a record-breaking 21,380 units for 1957, company executives felt the car could do even better, leading to a substantial redesign of the car for 1958.

Pin It

Angra do Heroísmo

Ilha Terceira

Startups

Economia

Notícias Regionais

Outras Notícias

Saúde

Sociedade

Mundo

Tecnologia

Cultura

Desporto