1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
On loan from: Rod & Shelly Flanigan of Kearney, NE
Original cost: $3,150.00
Number made: 15,631
Engine, etc.: Thunderbird Special V-8; 312 cu. in,; 4-barrel; 225 hp; Peacock Blue; 3,085 lbs.
Options: Padded dash; automatic transmission
This was the second production year for the Thunderbird. The continental kit was added to the rear and portholes in the detachable hardtop. The car also has a folding convertible top.
The name “Thunderbird” came from the god of rain and prosperity revered by America’s South West Indians.
The 312 cubic inch engine was an option over the standard 292 cubic inch V-8. This car is equipped with Fordomatic transmission.
Ford referred to the T-Bird as a ‘Personal Car’ rather than a true sports car, to appeal to the upscale customer. For 1956, the porthole top, continental kit and a 12-volt electrical system were added. The new electrical system allowed Ford to add many optional power accessories.
Ford might have been inspired by European sports cars, but the Thunderbird ended up an all-American cruising convertible designed for comfort and smooth, powerful straightline performance. That the “Little Birds” were also uncommonly handsome only hastened their climb to “instant classic” status, one reason so many survive today.
A sturdy steel body and amenities like roll-up windows added to the T-Bird’s appeal. As proof, the first year 1955’s out sold Chevrolet’s fiberglass Corvette by 23 to 1 (16,155 versus 300 Corvettes). Sales of the 1956 models slipped to 15,631, but that was hardly bad for a specialty car in a “fall-back” sales year.
The ’56 T-Bird was much like the ’55, but a standard “continental” spare tire opened up needed trunk space, front-fender ventilator doors enhanced cockpit comfort, and the available lift-off hardtop gained distinctive “porthole” windows that helped visibility.
Typical of the time, the ’56 also offered more power, courtesy of a new 312-cubic-inch V-8 with 215 horsepower and optional stick-overdrive or 225 with self-shift Fordomatic. The previous year’s 292 continued with the standard three-speed manual, but was upped to 202 bhp. Handling took a step backward, as springs and shocks were softened, but buyers loved the resulting smoother ride.
http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Ford/1956%20Ford/1956%20Ford%20Brochure/index1.html (Original 1956 dealer brochure)