Dave & Nancy Perry's 1955 Ford Thunderbird
(from Volume 19, Issue 210)

To say that Dave Perry has always been around Fords would be putting it mildly. His grandfather on his mother’s side, Stanley Gray, bought a Ford dealership in 1926 and started the Stanley Gray Motor Company in a livery stable in Mars, Pennsylvania. Stanley had the dealership until 1956 when his health failed, and then Dave’s dad, Merle Perry, purchased the dealership from him. That was the family business, and Dave worked there from the age of 16 until the dealership was closed in 1980.

Dave and Nancy met in 1975, when Nancy purchased a car from Dave at the dealership. Along the way, Dave’s dad purchased the 1955 Thunderbird you see here from a private owner in 1964. In fact, on their first date Dave and Nancy went out in this very ‘55 T-Bird! They were married in July of 1977, and Dave Jr. was born in March of 1984. They moved to Florida in 1988, and the Thunderbird arrived here on a moving truck. At this point it was still in stock condition, and they started cruising at Old Town with it as a family.

The frame off restoration began in 1993, in the shop at their home. It was 8 years of Saturdays until completion, with the biggest challenge being the paint and body work. Along the way the trusty T-Bird received a few modifications, which make it stand out a bit from your average Thunderbird. The most obvious is the lowered ride height, which was achieved with 4-inch dropped front spindles by Fatman Products (accompanied by a disc brake upgrade), and 3-inch lowering blocks in the rear. The engine was outfitted with a steel truck crank and steel rods, the compression ratio was bumped up substantially to 10.3:1, a Clay Smith solid lifter camshaft was installed, along with G cylinder heads with oversized valves and ported bowls done at Powered By Ford in Orlando. It now has an “E-Bird” 1957 T-Bird intake manifold topped with dual Edelbrock 500cfm carburetors. Dave also made the custom equal length headers himself, which always draw attention when it is displayed with the hood open, and combined with the beefed up engine draws attention with a throaty rumble when the car is running. As for the remainder of the car, Dave and Nancy told us that everything else is bone stock.

In addition to crafting himself a cool vintage T-Bird, Dave now works on other people’s classic cars full time out of his home garage. He has done work on many of the other cars that cruise at Old Town and around Florida. Dave and Nancy still enjoy cruising at Old Town regularly themselves, and make it a family outing when their son comes home on leave from the Air Force. It must be neat to still get behind the wheel of a car they have had so long, was the car they drove during their first date, and that Dave has put so much work into over the years. I’m sure this T-Bird will be in the Perry family for many years to come! CN