Somewhere west of Al-Kindi Street, in the Baghdad International Zone — better known as the Green Zone — there’s a 1955-56 Thunderbird that has probably experienced more than any other first generation Thunderbird ever made.
Local legend says that this Thunderbird came to Iraq before 1958, imported by a wealthy Iraqi businessman before the 1958 military coup that ousted Iraq’s monarchy and set in motion the events that brought Saddam Hussein to power. When it was new, a man of considerable means in Iraq wanted a “personal car,” as many Americans did, and he must have gone to great lengths to purchase and import his Thunderbird.
Approaching its 60th year, this Thunderbird is far beyond being a “survivor” as the term is overused in the U.S.; it has survived a military coup shortly after its importation, several wars lasting over two decades combined, many nearby bombings, and who knows how many small acts of violence and lawlessness. In 2011 it was still owned by an Iraqi who was refusing American and British offers to buy it and take it away. One day years from now, it may emerge as a restored collector car and get the attention that it deserves as arguably the world’s most interesting first generation Thunderbird.