Teahen answers his critics
To the Editor:
May I be permitted to defend myself?
I'll concede that there was no 1954 Thunderbird, although an excellent source (Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975) says there was. According to Ford Motor Co.'s Web site, the Thunderbird went on sale Oct. 22, 1954, as a 1955 model.
As to whether there was a coupe or no coupe, Ford's Web site says of the original T-Bird: "The base sticker price of $2,695 included the removable hard top, but not the soft top." Thus, the hard top was standard equipment, and to me that means the car could be termed a coupe. Ford's use of the term "sticker price" is a misnomer. There were no sticker prices until the 1959 models.
The Thunderbird's roofline, greenhouse treatment and (in 1956-57) portholes, made the hardtop version the definable standard of Thunderbird styling. Tom Case, chief product planner for those early Thunderbirds, said that more than 90 percent of 1956-57 models had the porthole top, according to Richard M. Langworth in The Thunderbird Story: Personal Luxury, published in 1980.
A fabric soft top, incidentally, was available for $290 with the hard top, $75 without it.
I think it's immaterial whether the original Thunderbird had an actual model called a hardtop. The hardtop configuration is the one that people bought, owned, drove and loved. As I wrote in the June 13 SalesTales column, "the coupe is what made the Thunderbird the Thunderbird."
The 2002-05 T-Bird had a removable hard top, but it was not promoted as the original was.
My thanks to all who wrote to me. As they say in my business, "If they don't write, it means they're not reading." Fortunately, I do not have that problem.
You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at
You can reach John K. Teahen Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.