Conceived to challenge Chevrolet's Corvette sportscar, the classic Thunderbird debuted in October 1954 and was one of the first models produced with Ford's new overhead-valve V8 engine. In '56 Thunderbird configuration, the latter displaced 292cu in (4.8 litres) and produced 200bhp, while the optional Special V8 displaced 312cu in (5.1 litres) and delivered 215bhp, with Ford-O-Matic equipped versions more powerful still. Introduced in two-seat 'personal car' form, the Thunderbird was intended to appeal to image-conscious younger customers, and beat the Corvette hands down in the sales war thanks to its superior V8 engine and greater refinement. Despite its success, the original concept soon was abandoned and a larger - and slower - four-seat version introduced for 1958, a move that turned the early two-seater cars into collectors' items almost overnight. Today the original 1955-'57 Thunderbirds particularly the restyled '57 version - are among the most desirable and sought after of all post-war American automobiles. This attention grabbing '57 Thunderbird has the Special V8 engine and Ford-O-Matic (automatic) transmission. The vehicle was imported into the UK from the USA in 1993 and was purchased by the current vendor at Bonhams' Olympia Sale in December 2005 (Lot 638) since when it has formed part of a large private collection. Progressively restored over an eight-year period while in the immediately preceding owner's possession, it benefits from a bare-metal re-spray carried out 11 years ago at a cost of £8,000 and is fully under-sealed. Restoration invoices are included together with bills for $8,000-worth of work done in the USA. Finished in red with original cream leather interior, the car has a new soft-top and new tyres, and is fitted with an alarm. This iconic American automobile comes with Swansea V5 registration document, current MoT and its original sales invoice listing fitted 'extras'. No reserve.