There’s not much more that I can add here that wasn’t in today’s CC for the 1958 Thunderbird. Admittedly, it wasn’t really the first of the genre; the Studebaker Hawk–or even its predecessor, the 1953 Starliner coupe–can make that claim. But the Hawk wasn’t successful, and the Starliner wasn’t yet self-aware enough to know and target the market niche that could have been its salvation; they were both relegated to being prophets of a coming age.
The Thunderbird certainly didn’t suffer on that account: it knew exactly what its market was: the aspirations of America’s middle-class strivers; always ready to embrace a vehicle to set them apart from the masses: “America’s Most Individual Car”. That truly sums it up, doesn’t it? The era of the “individual car” or “personal car” was now upon us, and things would never be the same, even if the individual car soon became very much a mass-market car. Oh well…exclusivity has its price: a Mercedes. But that was still in the offing. In 1958, the Thunderbird gave notice that the big American sedan was soon to be a dinosaur.