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November 19, 2019
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The Book of the Ford Thunderbird from 1954

The Book of the Ford Thunderbird from 1954
Originally 40.00

By Brian Long
About the Author

288 pages * 250x250mm * 382 Pictures

ISBN: 9781904788478

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* The author is an acknowledged motoring historian.
* The author has received full co-operation from the Ford Motor Company.
* Full year-by-year coverage of production models.
* Overview of racing exploits.
* Special variants covered in full.
* Rare prototype photographs.
* Well over 400 contemporary pictures, mainly in colour.
* In addition to photographs, advertising and brochures have been used.
* Full listing of production figures.
* Everything the enthusiast would want to know in one book.


Here's the full story of American icon the Ford Thunderbird, from concept in the 1950s to demise in the 1990s and rebirth in the new millennium, including numerous competition exploits. Highly illustrated with contemporary material to help those looking for originality of detail this is a serious definitive work on an American classic.


The full definitive history of Ford's iconic Thunderbird sports car from 1950s dream, through to a year-by-year analysis of the production models. The American automotive scene was changed forever when Ford launched its legendary 1955 Thunderbird. Half a century and innumerable facelifts later, the Thunderbird still manages to capture the heart of American car enthusiasts with its sporting character and bold styling. This book covers the full story of the Thunderbird, from concept, the various yearly changes, through to its demise in the 1990s and rebirth in the new millennium (and its subsequent exit from the Ford line-up), looking at the model's numerous competition exploits along the way. Written by an acclaimed motoring historian with full co-operation form the factory this is an extremely comprehensive reference. In addition, it is illustrated throughout with over 400 contemporary photographs, brochures and advertising and has a range of useful appendices meaning this is the only book on this subject you will ever need.

Independent Reviews

Review from American Car World, October 2007

If you've ever wanted to read a definitive guide to Ford's sportscar of over 50 years, this is it. At first the price might be off-putting, but when you start to flick through the pages you can appreciate why it is set so high, and how much of a bargain that really is when you consider the material within the 256 pages.

Author Brian Long was given full co-operation from the Ford Motor Company and his T-bird book could be considered a bible, being the only book you'd probably need on the subject.

The book has year-by-year coverage of production models, with special variants also covered, some 500 pics, most of which are colour and include some fascinating rare prototype shots. In addition to the photographs, advertising and brochures have been used throughout, to further enhance the nostalgic appeal of the book. There's even a full listing of production figures.

This really is everything an enthusiast would want to know in one book.

American Car World rating: 5 stars

Review from The Automobile, September 2007

The Thunderbird was Ford's personal two-seater answer to the more overtly sporting Corvette launched a year earlier in January, 1953. While the GM product had started life with a straight-six, the T-bird came in with a V-8, to which Chevrolet responded the following model year with the small-block V-8. Both set out to knock the British sporting imports.

Despite the fact that this has been written in Japan, where Brian Long has lived for many years, such are the wonders of modern communication that it could well have been compiled in Detroit, so complete is the information. It is fully illustrated with drawings, photographs and brochures model year by year from conception in October 1952, to the 12th generation at the end of 1997. Retro appeal brought the name back for the short-lived 13th generation from 2002-05, bringing the combined total to just over 4.4 million units in 47 production years. Its most popular model, averaging 319,000 a year, was the 8th generation of MY1977-79, when the car lost weight and departed from the short-wheelbase Lincoln appearance it had gradually acquired. Prior to that, production had averaged 60,000 or so, small beer in Detroit terms but relatively exclusive. Perhaps surprisingly, the annual numbers weren't affected by the arrival of the Mustang, which, to European eyes, was a fairly similar car, but in America it was half the T-bird's price, and not exclusive.

The author manages to present year-on-year changes without reading like a series of brochure updates by justifying the improvements with engineering reasons and enough comparisons with market rivals to keep it interesting to more than just T-bird lovers. You get to know what Ford was doing with its other models, too.

Review from New Zealand Classic Car, September 2007
New Zealand magazine

Surely one of the most attractive US cars since WWII is the original 2-seater Ford Thunderbird, produced from 1954 to '57. The car immortalised in 'American Graffiti'.

This is the most comprehensive book, with hundreds of photos and lots of reprinted brochures (including some fascinating ones from Japan where the author now lives). Long also fits each year's Thunderbird into US auto market developments at the time.

If you have or want to own or restore a 'Bird, there's every detail change for each year - including paint and upholstery colours. Well written and well illustrated, this is how a model 'autobiography' should be presented.

Review from Octane magazine, September 2007

Packed with period brochure artwork and advert, this substantial hardback covers the whole Thunderbird era, from the pretty two-seater of the mid-'50s through the bloated barges of the 1970s to the retro-styled soft-top of the early 21st century. There are detailed specs for each model year and a good, solid text, but it's the colourful visuals, charting half-a-century's changing taste, that carry you along.

Review by Alastair Clements for Classic & Sports Car, July 2007

An opening chapter that presents a well-judged brief history of Ford until the T-'bird's 1954 debut makes the perfect scene-setter for Long's latest. As the glossy cover suggests, the design of this hardback is a cut above the Veloce norm. We liked the Route 66-style chapter headers and there's a wealth of period photos, plus wonderful sales literature ...

"... an exhaustive introduction"


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