The first T-bird rolled off the line on September 9, 1954. This model had much to offer. The two-seater had a 4,785 cc Mercury V-8 engine with manual gearbox but there was also an amazing list of optional extras. Buyers could choose an automatic gearbox, power assisted brakes, power steering, electrically-operated windows, and plastic hardtop. The V-8 engine had quadruple carburettors and produced 193 bhp to enable a top speed of 115 mph (185 kph). The T-bird's body was of steel, which was another plus point, since there were few body shops in those days able to repair polyester body shells after an accident. The cars also sold well in Europe.
The Thunderbird did have one big problem, in common with the Corvette: it was a true two-seater with no space for a small child or third passenger. Ford quickly acknowledged this problem and although the two-seater sold well, they planned a larger model.