Labour of love for perfect 1955 Ford Thunderbird
CAR enthusiast Tony Bullock won the overall trophy at the Cool Classix and Modern Muscle Show 'n' Shine at Glenview last Sunday.
1.Are you a vintage/veteran or latest model lover?
I enjoy all cars but my preference is American veterans from the '50s, '60s and early '70s.
2What was your first car or motorbike?
A 1928 model A Ford Pick-up which had no starter motor. I built a jig which, when reversed into it, would lift up the back wheels. This would make it easy to start when needed.
3How much did it cost?
I bought it from a farmer for 40 pound in 1966.
4What is your fondest memory you took in your first car?
Driving up the Lime Works hill back home, which was a steep road with an "S” bend at the bottom. My mates and I at the time would free-wheel down the hill and slide round the "S” bend on two wheels.
5What is your current vehicle?
It is a 1955 Ford Thunderbird.
6What do you love about it?
My wife and I have always wanted a "Baby Bird” since we've been married but of course raising our children and domestic commitments through the years did not allow us the opportunity until we were close to retirement. We like the compact plain lines, the colour and the affordability of the time, even though she needed a lot of work to bring it up to its present condition.
7How long have you had the car and where was it sourced?
We have had the "Baby Bird” over three years. We found the car for sale at old-school garage in Hill Crest, south of Brisbane.
8Tell us about what's under the metal and are there any modifications?
The car is painted in the signature colour: Thunderbird Blue. It has undergone a great deal of restoration. Original period modifications are: power steering, power brakes, new suspension, replacement of more than 80 per cent of chrome and stainless, new wheels and tyres, rebuilt power seats, re-wiring and instrument cluster replacements, rubbers and seals, hardtop and softtop upgrades.
9What makes your car so special?
It's the first series Thunderbird ever made. It is a very desirable, collectable item.
10How often do you drive your car?
Due to the fact the car is on club plates, we are limited in using the car. We go to all the car shows we can in and around the Sunshine Coast and we go on club runs when possible.
11Mostly pleasure and personal use or business?
It is strictly for personal use only. My wife and I enjoy riding in the vehicle and find it a pleasure to admire the vehicle wherever she is - in the garage or out in the public.
12Does it have a name? How have you personalised it: for example, personalised plates, fluffy dice?
We do have three different colours of fluffy dice, depending on our mood. We just call her "Baby Bird”.
13Do you work on your own car or get it maintained at a garage?
I do all the work on my own car. Occasionally, I have to call on an electrician or ask for advice or assistance. I have a low-height hoist in my garage which is a great asset when maintaining the running gear of the car.
14What will your next car or bike be?
There will be no more unique cars for us as we are now retired.
15If you could buy any vehicle in the world, what would it be?
I really don't know. We are very happy and content with what we have.
My mother used to say "be happy with your lot”.
We are only caretakers of what we own in this world so we believe you have to enjoy what you may be fortunate to have and be thankful for the experience.
AT A GLANCE
VEHICLE 1955 Ford Thunderbird
ENGINE Y-block V8, 292 cubic inches with a Holley four barrel carburettor, generating maximum power of 148kW (198 horsepower) @ 4400rpm and peak torque of 388Nm (286 lbs ft) @ 2500rpm.
PERFORMANCE At production, 0-100kmh in 9.4 seconds.
TRANSMISSION Ford-O-Matic three-speed automatic.
TYRES Original 6.70 x 15.4 inch, Firestone. Whitewall width: 2 11/16-inch (optional).
BRAKES Front and rear 11 inch hydraulic drum.
DIMENSIONS Length 4453mm (175.3 inches), width 1786mm (70.3 in), height 1275mm (50.2 in), ground clearance 149mm (5.9 in).
ORIGINAL PRICE $2944.
OWNER Tony Bullock.
DETAILS The 1955 Ford Thunderbird was the world's first "personal” car, not a sports car, not a luxury car, not a compact car, not a family car, but a personal car, one that could be tailored to the individual needs and desires of its owner. The Thunderbird created a whole new class of automobile, and no matter what the current trend, the T-Bird was there, a step ahead, setting those trends.