Over the years the Ford Thunderbird has earned its place in U.S. history as an icon of automotive technology. When the Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 it was intended to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette. It was a two-seat car with clean styling, creature comforts, and V8 refinements.
In 1955, the Thunderbird was available with a 193-212 horsepower 292 cubic-inch V8. In 1956 and 1957 the Thunderbird was available with a 215-340 horsepower 312 cubic-inch V8 or the original 292 cubic-inch engine. In 1958 the Thunderbird was transformed into a four-seat car. It had much boxy lines, a wide-pillar roof, and was classified a personal luxury car.
Although the 1955-1957 two seat roadsters had been very popular, many people wanted the convenience of a car with more passenger and cargo room. The revamped Thunderbird was an instant success, and it was named Motor Trend Magazine's Car of the Year. From 1958 through 1960 the Thunderbird could be ordered with either a 352 cubic-inch V8 engine that put out 300 horsepower or it could be ordered with a huge 430 cubic-inch engine that put out 350 horsepower.
In 1961, the Thunderbird went through yet another restyling and the all-new body shell featured a pointed front nose, modest fins above the traditional round taillights, quad headlamps recessed in oblong housings, and much softer roof lines for the hard-top versions. The interior featured a dash that curved at its outboard ends to blend in with the door panels, and the first ever "Swing Away" steering column. The 1961-1963 T-bird had a 390 cubic-inch V8 available and it put out 300-340 horsepower.