The Ford Thunderbird was introduced to the U.S. market in 1955 as a response by Ford to the Chevy Corvette, which had come out two years prior to capture the sports car market. The name, Thunderbird, came from a Ford stylist from the Southwest, Alden “Gib” Giberson, who submitted the Thunderbird name after having coffee one morning seeing a drawing of a two-headed bird on his cup. His submission was a reference to a legendary Indian creature, a supernatural bird with great power and strength.
Ford had expected to produce only 10,000 cars during the first year, but sales exceeded that number and peaked at 16,155- the maximum that could be built at that time. The new Thunderbird outsold Chevrolet’s Corvette by a ratio of 23 to 1 during its first year of production. This compared to only 674 Corvettes selling during the entire 1955 model year.