Click above for a high-res gallery of the very first 1955 Ford Thunderbird

Do you like your birds rare? Though it's not quite on the endangered species list just yet, there's no doubt that any 1955 Ford Thunderbird is a desirable classic car, and none more so than this particular example, which just so happens to be the first T-Bird ever produced. Powered by its original 292 cubic-inch V8 engine and automatic transmission, this car was restored to completely original condition back in 1965 -- just 10 years after it was first built, and it's also the same car that underwent the first instrumented testing of the T-Bird in the October edition of Sports Illustrated magazine. According to the Ford Motor Company, which confirms the car's unique status, this is the most valuable Thunderbird in existence, and it earned a whopping $660,000 at this year's Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale, AZ. See the car's official auction description after the break.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

First Production 1955 Ford Thunderbird:

The rarest of all "Birds". If your one of the millions of avid Thunderbird owners, restorers or fans, you may have wondered about the very first Thunderbird ever produced. What became of it? Where is it now? How did it look originally? Ford Motor Company and Barrett Jackson are pleased to bring you up to date on the rarest and most valuable T-Bird built by Ford Motor Company. As you can see, the black beauty is very much alive. It was produced at the Michigan factory on September 9, 1954. This car came equipped with the 292 "Y" block. Fordomatic transmission, power steering, windows and seats. The wheelbase is 102". The BMP rating is 198 and the weight of the vehicle is 3250 lbs. One of the first performance road test of the newly-created Thunderbird car was by a national magazine was tested on this same car. "Sports Illustrated" did an article October 4, 1954 entitled "Testing the Thunderbird", and the first T-Bird was used as the test vehicle. Ford verified the status of this car in 1966, designated as the most valuable T-Bird in existence. This car has captured the attention of writers, collectors and car buffs throughout the United States and globally. This car has been featured in magazines, books, promotions, internet blogs, television shows and more. It has also made many special appearances at various museums, car shows and special events like the 1984 Olympics. The Ford Motor Company has and continues to commission the car, usually in its private trailer to various events such as their national conferences and car shows including Ford headquarters in Dearborn, MI. It has been pictured with generations of Ford executives and celebrities such as Carroll Shelby, Barbara Streisand and Jay Leno to name a few. The history of the Thunderbird dates back to the early 1950's when a few individuals at the top of Ford's organizational chart conceived the idea of a sports car. Designer Frank Hershey fathered the idea of the sports car program that became the Thunderbird. The real history of this car dates back to 1965 when a well admired gentleman and car buff by the name George Watts came across what he called "A needle in a haystack". After Ford officially verified the status of his car as the first production Thunderbird, he meticulously restored the "original" to original. After documenting every step with photos, it appeared three years later - as if it just rolled off the assembly line. The rest is history.

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