There must have been something in the air in 1955, at least among
virtually all of America’s automakers. Both Ford and GM broke the mold with
sharply designed, well-proportioned new models in a variety of vibrant two-tone
color schemes. Pastel colors were also gaining the favor of car designers,
including Ford’s design chief Frank Hershey, who was reportedly a huge fan of
Fiestaware, which may have in fact provided some inspiration.
Hershey was the man responsible for the 1955 Ford
Thunderbird and many of its stylistic cues, including the small tailfins,
wrap-around windshield, peaked fenders and headlight cowls, which were shared
with other Ford models. They worked particularly well on the Fairlane Sunliner
convertible, which also had the signature “Fairlane Flash” side-trim that
dipped from the top of the front fender into the door.
Mechanically, the ’55 Fords boasted Y-block, OHV V-8s
ranging from 272 to 292 cubic inches, three-speed stick or automatic
transmissions, coil-spring independent front suspensions and leaf springs at
the rear. Interiors were light and color-coordinated with the bright, cheerful
exterior colors. Ford enjoyed phenomenal sales in 1955, second only to
archrival Chevrolet. Image leaders like the Fairlane Sunliner mirrored
America’s mid-1950s optimism and played a pivotal role in Ford’s success during
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in July of 2011 at The Inn at St. John's, St. John's.
198 bhp, 292 cu. in. OHV Y-Block V-8 engine, single
four-barrel carburetor, Ford-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission,
coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic
leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 115.5".