1956 Ford Thunderbird

Sale Price
$75,000 - $125,000
Est. Range
19 August 2022
Sold Date
Lot Number
Visually maintained, largely original
Auction House
Chassis no. P6FH235360. Slate Gray over black and white. 312/215hp, automatic, wire wheels, whitewalls, fender skirts, porthole hardtop, Continental kit, heat and defrost, Town and Country radio, tach.

Evaluation: Bought new by Humphrey Bogart. Mostly original with faded paint that has a small dent and long scratch on the left front fender, and the headlight bezels don’t fit straight. The chrome and brightwork are decent, but the weather stripping is all cracked. The hardtop shows serious orange peel in the paint. Good, lightly worn interior with some pitting on the steering wheel. This car doesn’t have the most glamorous story, but it’s a mostly unrestored classic with connections to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Bottom Line: Of the numerous celebrity-owned cars on offer in Monterey this year, Humphrey Bogart’s T-Bird is the most tragic. Pained by illness, the Casablanca star traded in his beloved XK120 (which had a 4-speed that was too hard to shift) for a new Ford-O-Matic-shifted T-Bird, and had the Ford painted to match the departed Jag’s Slate Grey. Bogart passed away just a year later, and widow Lauren Bacall sold it to an employee of 20th Century Studios, who enjoyed it far more and for far longer than poor Bogie did. Sad story or not, celebrity ownership and impressive preservation were not lost on any of the Bonhams bidders. Even a better-than-perfect-condition ’56 Thunderbird isn’t worth anywhere near this much money.

by Andrew Newton
3 September 2022
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Condition definitions
Condition #1: Concours
Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 vehicles is “concours.“
Condition #2: Excellent
#2 vehicles could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 vehicles that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws, but will be able to find some not seen by the general public. The paint, chrome, glass and finishes will all appear as excellent. No excessive smoke will be seen on startup, no unusual noises will emanate from the engine. The vehicle will drive as a new vehicle of its era would. The one word description for #2 vehicles is “excellent.“
Condition #3: Good
#3 vehicles could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 vehicle, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior where applicable. #3 vehicles drive and run well, but might have some incorrect parts. These vehicles are not used for daily transportation but are ready for a long tour without excuses, and the casual passerby will not find any visual flaws. “Good” is the one word description of a #3 vehicle.
Condition #4: Fair
#4 vehicles are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped. Paintwork is imperfect, and perhaps the body has a minor dent. Split seams or a cracked dash, where applicable, might be present. No major parts are missing, but the wheels could differ from the originals, or other non- stock additions might be present. A #4 vehicle can also be a deteriorated restoration. “Fair” is the one word that describes a #4 vehicle.
Condition #5: Poor
Running, but battered, incomplete, and perhaps rusty.
Condition #6: Parts car
Parts car.
Hagerty only assigns condition ratings to vehicles we can inspect in person or, for online listings, via high-quality photography.