1957 Ford Thunderbird ‘E-Code’

In response to Chevrolet’s Corvette sports car, the Ford Thunderbird was conceived and made its debut in October 1954, marking one of the earliest models to showcase Ford’s innovative overhead-valve V8 engine. Positioned as a contrast to the overtly sporty Corvette, the Thunderbird emphasized luxury and amenities, targeting a younger, image-conscious demographic.

Ford’s strategic approach resonated strongly with consumers, as evidenced by the production of over 16,000 Thunderbirds in the 1955 model year, surpassing Corvette sales due to its superior V8 engine and enhanced refinement.

Sporting a sleek, low-profile design, the Thunderbird differentiated itself from the Corvette by offering a range of comfort and convenience features tailored to affluent customers. Updates for the ’56 model year included relocating the spare wheel outside the trunk in a distinctive ‘Continental Kit’ style, alongside the introduction of the 312ci, 215bhp Thunderbird Special V8 as an option.

A more extensive redesign in 1957 extended the tail section with prominent fins, enhancing luggage space and handling. Performance enthusiasts had options like the twin-carb “E-Code” and the “F-Code” featuring a Paxton supercharger.

Despite its initial success, the original two-seater Thunderbird concept was eventually shelved in favor of a larger, four-seat version introduced in 1958, transforming the early two-seater models into coveted collector’s items almost overnight.

Source: Bonhams