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The Classic Ford Thunderbird,

How to tell the Difference when you're on the road.
Click on Pictures for larger views
From the REAR:
Goldenrod Yellow (36K)
Peacock Blue
Gunmetal Grey
1. rounded tail fin
2. tail light w/ optional back up light above round tail light

3. dual exhaust outlet thru bumperettes
4. bumperettes on straight bumper

5. crossed flags & Ford emblem on gas flap

1. rounded tail fin
2. red dot at top of optional back up light plate & round tail light below same
3. dual exhaust exits at side corners of bumper
4. Continental Kit in body hugging straight bumper
5. No emblem on trunk but cont'l kit highly visible!
1. slanted, sharp tail fin
2. round tail light (optional back up light in center)

3. dual exhaust exits thru back corners of bumper
4. massive 2-part shaped bumper

5. Thunderbird emblem below trunk keyhole

From the FRONT
Torch Red
Thunderbird Green (Sage)
Willow Green
1. Crossed flags emblem
2. Straight bumper
3. Short grill
4. Parking lights above bumper
5. No license plate bracket. It had to be added to bumper
1. Thunderbird emblem
2. Straight bumper
3. Short grill
4. Parking lights above bumper
5. License plate bracket added on
1. Thunderbird emblem
2. Massive 2-part curved bumper
3. Taller grill
4. Parking lights in bumper
5. Licence plate position formed in bumper
From the SIDE
Torch Red ( Federal Way, WA)
Red  ( Dallas, TX)
Willow Green ( Stevens Creek Dam - CA)
        2. no continental kit
        3. bumpers
        4. script on fin
        5. no windwings and no sunvisors
note: 1. Continental Kit
        2. bumpers
        3. fender vent
        4. script on fin
        5. Windwings and sunvisors
Note: 1. bumpers
         2. Tail fins
         3. fender vent
         4. script on front fender
         5. windwings and sunvisors
Front Fender:
Goldenrod Yellow
T-bird  Green (sage)
Starmist blue
1. Y-Block emblem by hash marks
1. Ford Crest by hash marks
2. Fender Vent
1. "Thunderbird" by hash marks
2. Fender Vent
This information only holds true for STOCK cars.  Customized cars may vary.  Continental Kits were only stock* on the 1956 Thunderbird.  If you see a continental kit on a '55 or a '57, it is an "after-market" add-on, not supplied by Ford though Ford dealers may have carried the product and  installed them for the customer.
*stock: as the car came equipped from the Ford factory.  Note:  The Ford dealer was there to please the customer so some items were put on the cars when new, at the request of the new owner not at the request of FoMoCo. . There is no such thing as a 1954 Thunderbird: contrary to what you may have been reading lately in some  magazines.  The Thunderbird was introduced to the public at the Detroit Auto Show,  February 20 of 1954,  Future Car.  The 1955 Thunderbird was first released for sale along with the fall line-up of 1955 Fords in October of 1954.  The first Thunderbirds through the assembly line were completed in September of 1954.  Magazines were publishing articles & pictures on the Thunderbird  in early 1954, in anticipation of the Fall release from Ford.  The first production Thunderbirds had some minor differences in them that FoMoCo changed very early in production.  Those cars are still 1955 Thunderbirds and are registered & titled as such. . Note on Portholes:
~All hardtops on the 55 thru 57 models are removeable hard tops. 
~No '55 came stock from the factory with the portholes in the hardtops. 
~Portholes were added to the hardtops with the production of the 1956 models.  Many hardtops for '55s were converted to porthole tops. 
~The stock '55 hardtop had a Ford Crest emblem on both sides. 
~A non-porthole '56 top had no emblems placed on the hardtop. 
~The 1957 T-bird hardtop was also available with or without portholes.  The '57 non-porthole hardtop had the new Thunderbird emblem in a small disk; the same style emblem that is on the steering wheel of the '57. 
Options available for the '55-'57 T-birds are listed here.

Links: links updated Jan 2011

Thunderbird Ranch for pics of 1958-1988 with more to come.

Thunderbird Cybernest: Gallery of T-birds

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© 1999-2012 Photos & Graphics by A Line of Dot's

updated Sept. 2012