George Watts 1955 Thunderbird First Thunderbird Built
This 1955 Thunderbird has been extensively documented over the course of the last 65 years, most notably by its maker, Ford Motor Company. For 1955, the first 1000 Dearborn-built Ford VINs - 100001 through 101000 - were reserved for the new Thunderbird. All of these cars had the same 292 cubic-inch V-8 engine (P), all were 1955 models (5), all were built at Dearborn (F), and all were the same body series (H). Therefore we know that P5FH100001 through P5FH101000 constitutes the correct and complete VIN list for the earliest-built Thunderbirds. After 101000 was assigned, those VINs given to Thunderbirds were random and drawn from the general pool as needed. However, 101001 is a Thunderbird, and it is in the Registry now.

First Production Thunderbird P5FH100005

George Watts, who is presumed to have been the second registered owner of P5FH100005, obtained California license plates 001 BRD in 1968 when “black plates” were still being issued.
Ford VINs never come off the assembly line in a planned perfect-sequential order. The VINs are assigned when the order is accepted, and the car is "scheduled for production". So what appears to be a sequential order of cars coming off any Ford assembly line is in fact only a coincidence, as the cars are actually built based on commonality, parts availability, and component inventory. Of that range mentioned above, Thunderbirds 100001 through 100004 were not actual assembly line production cars. In recent years there have been claims made that these cars have been located however no pictures or substantiations of the claims have been made apparent. Ford Motor Company documented this car as being the first assembly-line production Thunderbird in a letter to Mr. Watts in 1967.
All of the “First 1,000” Thunderbirds are in the Registry database. It is more accurate to say the “First 997” as the production line car VINs range from P5FH100005 to P5FH101000. In addition, 100001 through 100004 are in the Registry; they are pre-production units. Only 100004 is known to have been sold to a retail buyer. At least the last 500 cars built at Dearborn for the 1955 model year were Thunderbirds. Starting October 26, 2020 the “Not Yet Verified” cars will start to appear in Registry. There are approximately 425 Thunderbirds in this category. In a few other cases we can accurately produce a mostly-correct and mostly-complete Thunderbird VIN list. In 1958, production was entirely Hardtop with no engine choice until the Convertible body style was introduced (somewhere around 114000). In 1976 we know of 32 Commemorative special edition Thunderbirds which had consecutively-assigned VINs. They were all produced at Wixom, all with the same engine and other features. However recently it has been discovered that one of these cars, while in the VIN range, is not actually a Commemorative Edition. In 2002, Ford assigned VINs of 100026 to 100225 to the Special Edition Neiman Marcus cars. All Thunderbirds of this year had the same engine so the remainder of the entire production sequence could be produced by the Registry. For the 2003, 2004, and 2005 Thunderbirds, ex-Ford employee Harry Sharp contributed to the Registry all of the Special Edition VINs, DSO codes, and dealer locations. He also did this for the 2002 NM which were already registered. In effect the Registry could now produce the entire VIN list for the 2002-2005 Thunderbirds as all have the same engine. This would increase the Registry count to over 100,000 cars.
The highest 1955 Thunderbird VIN in the Registry is P5FH260557. This means that roughly 160,557 Ford cars…. Mainlines, Customlines, Fairlanes, Station Wagons, and Thunderbirds…were built at Dearborn for 1955. We know that 16,155 of them were Thunderbirds.
This page was updated October 26, 2020.
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