The Ford Thunderbird was introduced in 1955 as a sporty, luxurious two-seat car to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette. The original designs featured either a powered soft-top convertible or a removable fiberglass roof, with restrained lines and more modest fins than most cars of the era. T-Birds, as they were often called, soon overtook Corvettes both in sales and speed. The Thunderbird’s standard V8 engine was able to reach 114 mph, and could reach 60 mph in under 10 seconds.
While not a true sports car, the T-Bird caught on as a personal luxury vehicle, despite its limiting soft springs and low-geared steering. The Thunderbird’s 1957 update added clunkier rear fins, and in 1958 the entire vehicle was altered for a boxier, low-riding four-seat design. After 1961, the Thunderbird took on a sleek, bullet-shaped look, although the model was actually much larger than '50s T-Birds.
In the 1970s, Ford incorporated larger engines, power side windows, and air-conditioning to the standard Thunderbird models. The 1975 design became one of the first American cars to offer power disc brakes on all four wheels. Ford ultimately created 13 different generations of Thunderbirds until officially ending production of the car in 2005.