I am an identical twin and a co-founder of MyStarCollectorCar.com with my brother Jerry, so I am very familiar with the confusion we create in the world at large.
One term that rears its ugly head when people can’t get a fix on our actual identities is to call us Frick and Frack, a handle that irritates both of us because it indicates the people who use it are either lazy and unmotivated to differentiate between two separate people, just plain stupid-or any combination of the two.
The two T-Birds had an overall design reflecting their first-generation domestic sports car roots that began in 1955 when Ford introduced their famous two-seater to compete with their arch-rival GM’s Corvette two-seater.
However, there are enough differences between a 1956 and ’57 Ford Thunderbird to make it easy to avoid the Frick and Frack circus experienced by humans who resemble each other.
An important difference between a 1956 Thunderbird and its younger 1957 sibling were the aft sections of the cars. The tailfins on a 1956 T-Bird were straight up in the air, while the tailfins on a ’57 Thunderbird slid down the rear quarter panels and were positioned at a more horizontal angle compared to the earlier Bird.
Additionally, the hefty rear bumper on the ’56 T-Bird was designed to hold a factory Continental kit while the 1957 Thunderbird’s bumper was built to accommodate dual exhausts in its overall structure. A Continental kit was still available in the aftermarket for the ’57 models, but it was not encouraged by Ford, given the design of the ’57 Bird’s rear bumper. The Thunderbird emblem on the 1957 Thunderbird’s trunk was also a standard feature not found on the ’56 T-Bird model because the earlier car’s Continental kit would have hidden the emblem.
MyStarCollectorCar readers may also take a lingering look at the 1957 Thunderbird’s taillights because the backup lights were contained in the taillights in a 1957, while they were an option situated above the 1956 T-Bird’s taillights.
The front end of the two cars also had a few important differences. The 1956 Thunderbird had a one-piece straight bumper that was directly below the signal lights positioned on the car’s front fenders. On the other hand, the 1957 T-Bird had a massive two-piece bumper that housed signal lights built right into it.
Additionally, the front license plate holder was built into the bumper of the 1957 T-Bird but required a bolt-on holder on the ’56 Thunderbird’s bumper. The ’57 Thunderbird also had a taller grille than a 1956 version.
The final difference between a 1956 and ’57 Thunderbird was a side view of the two cars because a 1956 T-Bird had Ford emblems behind the car’s hash marks (side gills), while the ’57 had Thunderbird emblems in front of the hash marks.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.