The Ford THUNDERBIRD
Besides the motorized golf cart, Thunderbird also has a sentimental and proprietary interest in another vehicle. Ernest Breech, a Thunderbird Member, was chairman of Ford Motor Company. He was deeply involved in the creation of a new sports car to compete with the recently released Chevrolet Corvette. In 1954, Breech asked the Club permission to name the new model with its sleek and sporty design after the Club. Permission was granted. And in October 1955 the first Ford Thunderbird rolled off the assembly line and was presented to Johnny and Velma Dawson the Clubs first President and First Lady.
The first Ford Thunderbird came off the assembly line with 4,000 orders already in hand – eventually 16,000 1955 Ford Thunderbirds were sold. Price: $2,695 for the coupe and another $100 for the convertible. The T-Bird came in five colors: white, blue, black, yellow and red with vinyl interiors to match. The very first Thunderbird was sent to the Club.
Johnny had been involved in some of the prototype design of the Car. Seen in this rare and early photo of Johnny in Dearborn Michigan sitting in the prototype Ford Thunderbird, this version was indicative of the space race at the time. The prototype was later adapted into the sleek shape and lines of the Ford Thunderbird we still recognize today.