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1955 T-Bird Follow Up: Early Thunder Bird Go-Cart

The photo containing 1955 Ford Thunder Birds parked in a shipping holding area near the Ford River Rouge Plant in last Friday’s Kodachrome Car Photos Series garnered quite a bit of attention.

Over the weekend, contributor Benjamin Ames sent in today’s appealing lead image of a child-size 1955 or ’56 T-Bird go-kart. In addition the photo contains the little Bird’s tow rig consisting of a 1955 or ’56 Mercury two-door sedan and a unique enclosed car trailer with some interesting features.

Reader JJS also sent in a copy of a 1955 T-Bird promotional piece (below)  confirming the discussion in the earlier comments about the two tops available for the car. He wrote: “Among the items listed in the brochure for the 1955 Bird under ‘Available Equipment’ are ‘glass-fibre top’ and ‘convertible fabric top,’ which suggests they were not standard when the Bird was introduced in late 1954.”

Could this imply the 1955 model could be purchased without a top?

Share with us what you find of interest in today’s post about the Ford two-seat sports car.

11 responses to “1955 T-Bird Follow Up: Early Thunder Bird Go-Cart

  1. The go cart is a 55 T-bird! The fact that it has a spare tire in the rear is misleading. The tail lights and the fact that the exhaust is featured thru the bumperettes tells me its a 55. The 56 had the exhaust coming thru the rear bumper. I have a 55 T-Bird that has a continental kit that was dealer installed. Loved that picture. That little go cart I’m sure would bring a nice penny today.


  2. So I just did a little research and found out that the original T Bird first came without any top at all. The addition of the hardtop came about as a “running” change.
    One possible reason for the “topless” T Bird might be the price. It’s introductory price was $2695, considerably less than it’s competitor, Chevy’s Corvette at $2700.
    The Smaller T Bird may very well be a Thunderbird Jr. manufactured by The Powercar Company of Mystik, Connecticut.
    I would assume that the diminutive T Bird is a 55 reproduction with a “Continental kit” addition. The rear bumper with exhaust coming out the Bumperettes is 1955 only as is the Continental Kit is 1956 only.

  3. Research shows, the 1955 or ’56 “Thunderbird Jr.” was made by a company called Powercar o Mystic, Connecticut and was either electric ( car starter & 6 volt battery) or gas. They weren’t cheap, about $465 for electric, and $565 for gas job. (almost $5,000 dollars today. ) A pricey toy for a kid.

    • I’m almost sure the Thunderbird Jr.’s were offered through Ford Dealers. They could use them as a promotional showroom piece, or actually sell or auction them to the public.

      • Yes, some Ford Dealers did have these on the showroom floor. In 1957 my father took me shopping for a new car with him. A local St. Louis Ford dealer had one of these little T Birds near the display window. I was an 8 year old kid back then. Of course the salesman let me sit in the little T-Bird while he worked on my dad to buy a new Ford. It sorta worked , because I pestered my dad to buy a new T-Bird . To my dismay my father bought a station wagon to make my mom happy. Since we had a family of two parents and 5 kids I can see the logic in his 1957 choice. I would still like a 1957 T- Bird instead , cause sitting in that little T-Bird sure made me feel “cool” !

  4. The go-kart was known as a Thunderbird Junior. Back in the early 1980’s one of my car buddies had one that he intended to restore, although his kids had already outgrown it. If I recall correctly, his was equipped with a Briggs & Stratton engine. I tried to buy if form him, so that my (then) young son would have a companion to my ’56, but it was not for sale; it looks like my son will have to be content with inheriting the ’56 from me eventually. I think that Thunderbird Juniors were made up through the “Square Bird” era, about 1960.

    I think that all early T-Birds were equipped with a top from the factory, as standard equipment. Either the soft-top or the HT was available as standard, although most came with the soft top. The buyer had the option of adding the second top when ordering the car. When new, my car was equipped with the factory soft top, but I have seen a few with the HT only.

  5. Could the soft top be folded down and the hard top mounted for winter, or was it one or the other?
    I can’t figure out the deal with the trailer fenders? I wonder if the were detached from the body for tilting although I can’t figure out why?

  6. Did that Thunderbird Jr. have a steering wheel? I ask since I don’t see one. Not sure what that is on the rear deck behind the drivers head. Too bad they didn’t also make “junior” sized mirrors.

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