1955 Ford Thunderbird Doane Spencer Custom Convertible
Lot No. 790
Auctioned on Saturday, August 3, 2013
Sold for $ 96,250
- 302-cid, OHV V-8 engine, five-speed manual transmission
- Built by Doane Spencer while he was tech editor at Rod and Custom magazine
- Contested Bonneville in 1961 at almost 150-mph
- Subsequently restored and updated by Spencer in the 1980’s
- A special vehicle with historical significance
Chassis no. P5H100603
302-cid, OHV V-8 engine, five-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102-inches
The late Doane Spencer was an early technical editor of Rod and Custom magazine. In 1955 he bought one of the first Ford Thunderbirds, but found it a bit mundane. He immediately set about modifying it for better performance, ultimately running Bonneville in 1961 at almost 150-mph and decimating competition of much heftier pedigree.
His modifications to the body were most prescient, anticipating the 1957 two-seat Thunderbird to a great extent. The nose has definite 1957 undertones, while the rear eschews a finned theme in favor of smoothly-rounded fenders and a tucked-under valence. The work was performed by Valley Custom Shop, a Burbank operation started by Neil Emory and his brother-in-law Clayton Jensen in 1948.
In the 1980s, Spencer decided to restore the car, which really resulted in an evolutionary ‘Bird. It now sports a 302 engine modified with lots of SVO and NASCAR parts and a five-speed transmission. The seats are black leather, with matching carpet and original dashboard. A smaller, leather-wrapped steering wheel is fitted.
In very good condition throughout, the car has its original AM radio, heater and power windows. The black hardtop is fitted, and there is no soft-top. The alloy wheels have knock-offs and are mounted with BF Goodrich blackwall tires. A unique piece of history, this car continues to delight.