1959 Corvette Vs 1955 Ford Thunderbird In Classic Comparison Test

If you know your history and you like American muscle, this comparison of a ’59 Corvette and a ’55 Thunderbird might be equally if not more to your liking than most of the new cars getting reviewed these days.

Choosing between a first-generation Corvette and a Thunderbird is no easy task. Both cars are two-seat convertibles with V8 engines and manual transmissions, and both feature a lot of chrome.

When new, the Corvette was slightly more expensive, which made sense since it was marketed as a sportier car, putting down 270 HP to the Thunderbird’s 202 HP, and hitting 60 mph (96 km/h) in 8.3 seconds, whereas the Ford needed 9.6 seconds.

Despite all the Corvette’s advantages on paper, the Thunderbird outsold its rival by more than 23-to-one when it first came out in 1955. While Ford built this car as a direct rival to the Corvette, they also wanted to put an emphasis on its comfort and convenience features, rather than driving dynamics.

This comparison review, courtesy of Driving.ca, definitely highlights all these differences. In fact, the guys quickly arrive at the conclusion that, while the Thunderbird is quite a looker, it’s the first-gen Corvette that feels lighter and more agile on the road – not to mention faster in a straight line.


  • LeStori

    Both these cars look better than the rubbish Ford and GM make today. Might not have been perfect cars but at least they had imagination.

    • Bash

      They had class as well. both are amazing.

  • IT’S AMAZING THAT THESE TWO CARS WERE CONTEMPORARIES AT ONE TIME. WHILE THE CORVETTE HAS REMAINED TRUE TO FORM TO THIS DAY THE T-BIRD QUICKLY BECAME A LUXOBARGE. BUT THEY DID HAVE SOME OF THE GREATEST REAR-ENDS IN THE BUSINESS AND THE ORIGINATOR OF THE SEQUENTIAL BLINKER. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6efb8ba759cb62f479e6ec0e28869955f3789a4b907d86cb033385e5c8269e2.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1ebc83f1ecbd18c27d7228eb32f4a2dbc5f16d79609e390176dc0f46740a0ffa.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1b8b92e7d5bfdbd53f63f705f022ce003017278dcee3e5e43ac3b5c43c24f471.jpg

  • fabri99

    How did the american car industry got this terrible in just a few decades? Those were the days, you just need to look at these two beauties to realise that.

    • Gator McClusky

      It was the Government.
      Governmental restrictions really hurt automotive design and epa and fuel economy restrictions almost killed off the American car industry along with the Unions.
      This made it harder for domestic brands to complete on both price and quality
      It took unli just a few years ago for GM and Ford to get back on a good footing, Chrysler is still a mess.

      • dubfun

        The unions? How can you blame the guys who screwed together the garbage that spewed out of American factories? Corporate greed, complacency and the dream that huge profits would never end killed the US auto industry. While the Asians were building reliable, fuel efficient vehicles, and Europe was building cars you could drive fast without killing yourself, we continued to build junk even when the writing was clearly on the wall. It’s been almost half a century and we’re still trying to catch up.

        • Gator McClusky

          I knew some of the people who worked there
          Because of the union, companies had to pay even when workers didnt show up and they couldnt fire them even if they did a lousy job, which many of them did.
          Also $60+ per hour for an assembly plant worker is not sustainable in a competitive marketplace.

  • brn

    If they’d also used a 1959 t-bird, the winner could have changed.

  • james guidry

    How about comparing the 55 Bird with the 55 corvette ! Or the 59 Bird with the 59 Vette ?
    Or the SuperCharged 57 Bird with the 57 vette ?

    • Status

      Why bothers? The Corvette exists today as a standard, whereas the T-bird is just a footnote. You’re grasping at straws.

      • james guidry

        If Ford had wanted to they could have . How many times has the vette won LeMans !

        • Status

          Ford could have, but they didn’t bother to make the T-bird anything other than a bloated and overweight boulevard cruiser. Even in it’s last generation it still looked decades behind the times and was only ever bought by old bald men who listened to doo wop.

          As for LeMans, you should ask yourself why Ford bothered with the GT if you felt the T-bird was as important as you think it was. I’m not shying away from Ford’s LeMans wins, but those wins were made on the back of the purpose built GT and not he Thunderbird, which by that time had atrophied from being a sport cars into an obese ‘personal luxury coupe’ .

          The point is, comparing the Corvette to T-bird is meaningless if they both went off in two different directions and never once were directly comparable to one another after the mid-50’s.

          History (and the world) will remember the Corvette, but only elderly Americans will remember the Thunderbird.

          • Jacob Hodgdon

            Please were discussing mid 50’s cars and they stuck with a mid 50s tbird and compared it to a late 50s vette I agree compare it to the 57 tbird with the supercharger. And the tbird died because ford had other sports cars that worked and it moved toward luxury and it went away with fuel costs.

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