Ford Thunderbird Concept

From Ford press: Two men, Louis D. Crusoe and George Walker, were primarily responsible for the birth of the Thunderbird. Both were devoted to the automobile and its constant development and refinement.

Crusoe, a millionaire lured out of retirement by Henry Ford II, was a businessman with a solid "feel" for the automobile market. As a Ford vice president and Ford Division general manager, it was his responsibility to strengthen a young Ford Division . His goal was to give it a car that breathed excitement, a car that would add prestige to the Ford name.

Walker, later a Ford vice president and chief stylist, is described by contemporaries as a "stylist with the soul of an artist burning in his heart."

It was October 1951. With their mission in mind, the two men were walking along the aisles of the Grand Palais in Paris when Crusoe gestured toward one of the sportier automobiles on display, turned to Walker and asked: "Why can't we have something like that?"

"We have a job just like that in the works right now," was Walker's quick response. It was not quite so, until Walker found it convenient to get to a telephone and talk with his aides back in Dearborn. But, by the time Crusoe returned to the United States, there was indeed a "job just like that" in the works.

In the months that followed, there was a lot of talk about a "true Ford sports car." Some preparations were made. "Paper sports cars" took shape in the design studios. All hands had been instructed to go to work on a completely new Ford car for the 1955 model year.

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