The Thunderbird managed to capture the spirit of its era and create a new market segment all at the same time; no mean feat for a staid, conservative manufacturer like Ford was during this period. Influenced as much by the Corvette as by internal pet projects, Ford’s two-seater was also boldly unique: unlike the primitive sportscars of the time, Ford realized that their affluent American buyers were going to want luxury amenities and heaps of style. The result is a liveable car, sealed from the weather with the top up, but sporting features the competition didn’t have. For example, while the the Corvette still made do with the anemic Blue Flame six, the Thunderbird packed a Y-block V8. From the portholed hardtop, to the pronounced fins, the T-bird stood at the height of 1950s style without excessive chrome or overly-gaudy detailing. It also signaled the start of an entirely American genre, the personal luxury car, which the Thunderbird long dominated. From a driving standpoint, the special-option centrifugal supercharger bolted up to the 312 cubic inch motor gives this Thunderbird serious straight-line performance: well over 300 horsepower right out of the box. Even dead stock, this Ford can be a real threat on the dragstrip, but there’s always a way to improve a good thing at the Upgrade Shop.