The Thunder!
1955 P Engine
1956 Engines
1957 Engines
The Thunder!!
OR... What's Under That hood?
1955-1956-1957 Thunderbird Engine Summary
Classic T-bird Trivia 
Year Data Plate Code CID Compression 
Bore & Stroke HP Carb.
1955 P 292 8.5 3.7500 x 3.300 198 4V
1956 M 292 8.4 3.7500 x 3.300 202 4V
. P 312 8.4 3.800 x 3.440 215 4V
. P 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 225 two 4V - note - not delivered from factory installed - installed by dealers - very late releasee.
1957 C 292 9.1 3.750 x 3.300 212 2V
. D 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 245 4V 
. E 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 270 two 4V - stock cam
.. E 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 285 two 4V - sc cam
.. F 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 300 4V
. D 312 9.7 3.800 x 3.440 300 supercharged - 12 built; called D-F birds because their data plate reads D, not F.  Verified only by their factory invoice.
Click on Pictures below to see larger and more views of each engine
You may also see the detail in stereo. For stereo viewing instructions visit here
Be aware that they may take a minute to download if you're on a dialup connection.
The 1955 P code engine: stock engine for all 1955 Thunderbirds
No engine dress-up kit
The 1956 M code engine The 1956 P code engine The 1956 P code engine with dual 4's
The 1957 C code engine - standard engine but rarely seen now in a '57. The 1957 D code engine - normal engine found in most 57 T-Birds. The 1957 E code engine - dual 4's The 1957 "F" Bird:  Supercharged!
Phase 2
The 1957 D "F" 'Bird
Phase 1
.Under Construction
. This engine has the "dress-up" kit which you will find on most Thunderbirds. . Only 210 ( 211? 212? 214?) were built.  Are you hiding one in your garage or barn?   Contact CTCI & get on the F-bird registry .12 were built & 8 are known to exist - a high percentage for a car that old. 
This page is for those of you who only see the 1955, 1956 and 1957 Thunderbirds in parades or the occasional show.  As awe struck as you may be when seeing these cars on the road, here's your chance to see what's actually under that hood.   Only "stock" is spoken and shown here!    I'm actually getting technical - kind'a rubbed off after being around these cars for so many years ( 38 years and still counting).

Collected these photos a number of years ago but only now have the time to put them on the pages.  You'll be seeing under-the-hood 3-D shots so you may feel like you're actually there, looking under that hood.  For stereo viewing instructions visit here and use your back button to return to this page or open in another window.  All years of Classic T-bird engines are shown.   Couldn't bring myself to use a black background so Ford Blue will have to do.   and the links are Ford Yellow!
If you could care less about viewing in 3-D, then I suggest  looking at the "X-eyed" pictures since they are larger and show more detail.

First, for a little bit of techie info:
All engines are V-8 Y-blocks.  Check this website out for more Y-Block info - 
Most of the above data can be found in Ray Miller's Thunderbird! , first published in 1973 & still available.  This data is probably found in other sources but those I usually don't read.

Unlike GM products.  Ford did not have matching "serial numbers" on their cars and parts like the Corvette has.  The most you will find is the serial number which is stamped in two places on the frame of the T-bird - it should correspond with the VIN # on the data plate.   The engine should match the engine code Letter on the data plate but that's all.  There are casting numbers that identify the heads and base block to particular years.  Info on those can be found on the Ford y-block sites.
The breakdown of the codes on the data plate can be found in old service manuals and on the Thunderbird Cybernest site -

Transmissions.  The stock transmission was a 3-speed manual however 90% of the Thunderbirds were outfitted with the automatic.  This was touted as a personal luxuary car and most dealers and owners were looking for something easy to drive.  The 3-speed manual could be ordered with an overdrive unit which greatly increased the fuel efficiency of this car at higher speeds. 

There were some special built race cars by Ford that are even different than these. 
Chuck Daigh drove race prepped tbirds in 1956 and 1957.  One of those was the BattleBird (or Daytona Bird as it was sometimes called back then).  You can view some pictures of it on this site:   BattleBird

There are a growing number of owners interested in racing their Thunderbirds, mostly on the drag strip.  There are several drag races held annually just for these y-blocked powered cars.  Here's a story about one:  Phillips/Mummert 'bird.  You'll find pictures of the Birdaspalloosa drag race here.

For more trivia on what's stock and what's not, visit the "trivia" page.
For more detailed info for concours purposes, use C.T.C.I.'s  Authenticity guide.

Since one of my hobbies is scale model collecting, I have found several different models on the market depicting some of these early race cars.  Rio makes a 1956 Daytona 'Bird and Brooklin has made the '57 Battlebird.  Racing Champions even put out a series of 50th Anniversary Nascar models and used the 56 T'bird as the example for convertible classes that debuted in 1956.  The early Hot Wheels "redline" model of the '57, made in 1969, has some design cues from the '57 Battlebird. 


1968 date on chassis but marketed in 1969
Mattell's Hot Wheels redline 57 T-bird

Brooklin's Battlebird

Racing Champions' 56 Nascar

Rio's Daytona 56 T-bird
model also came in white and with a figure
(It is a 56 not a 55)

Carrera Evolution  slot car  Ford Thunderbird "Blown 'Bird" - 1/32 scale

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