The Survivor The story of Rick Muphry's 1956 Thunderbird chapter1

There is a folder in my photos labeled 56 Tbird that goes with this story this is but the first Chapter

William (Rick) Murphey has known this car since he was 10 years old. The car belonged to a neighbor of his grandfather in Atlanta. He always admired the presence of this cars color combination. As he grew up he saw less of the car and it drifted somewhat out of his mind. Then in the 1980's the Atlanta airport purchased the College Park neighborhood where his grandfather lived. In 1986 Rick went to help his Grandparents move to a new home, he asked if the neighbors with the T Bird still lived on the block. The answer was yes and Ricky went over to visit and asked if they still had the car. He was guide into the garage where under a wooden platform that had been erected in the garage and was piled high with stored items sat the T Bird. The owner explained that since the accident they had parked it in the garage and had not fixed it or driven it. The registration tag on the car was from 1972, it had been sitting there for 14 years! The owner had a new Ford issue fender but it never had been fixed, the odometer read 50,000 miles. Rick asked if he wanted to sell it the answer was yes! Unfortunately the price was more than a young man with a growing family could afford. Rick Told his friend Joe Joiner who had a collection of 1940 Fords about the car. Joe wasted no time going over and negotiating the purchase of the car. Joe had the fender replaced and the car painted and drove it rarely over the next 20 years.

Through out the years whenever Rick would speak to Joe, the conversation would start, “when are you selling my car to me?” “NEVER” would be Joe's answer. Until one day in 2006 when Rick asked the question the answer from Joe was “today is the day, come and get it”

Rick went to Atlanta and picked up the car and drove it home with caution as one wheel cylinder was leaking, the odometer now read barely over 53,000 miles. When he got home he immediately took off the leaking wheel cylinder and brought to his local parts store where I was working part time. He ploped it on the counter and said I need one of these. I went into the back and brought out the new part. He was impressed that I not have to look it up. He then says to me “you know what this fits?” I answered, an old Ford. Still testing my knowledge he continues, “Do you know what kind of Ford?”. I answered no as Ford used the same part in most of their cars from 1949 to 1960. Rick then informed me it was a 1956 Thunderbird I replied I use to have a restoration shop where I did many Thunderbird cars. Ricks friend Bobby added nice car but it looks like an Alligator laid on his back on top of the front right fender. I found out from Rick that his barn was at the other end of the Golf course where I live. Offered to come over that afternoon with my sanding and polishing implements and see what I could do.

The car had survived a fire that burned Joe's house to the ground. Joe was heading home when he was passed by fire trucks with sirens blaring. His Home was the only think down this road so he followed at speed. When he arrived the house was ablaze his family was standing in the yard as the house burned. Joe's reaction was to grab the ax off a fire truck, whacked the clasp off the door, ran into the garage and pushed the T Bird out. The soft top that was up at the time of the fire shows just how close this fire came to destroying this car, there were are small marks of ember burns on the original top.

Joe thought that all the records that came with the car went up in the fire, but this car was not going to be denied its heritage. Joe had left the packet with all the cars original bill of sale, canceled check, original window sticker, original warranty papers and many more threads of the history of this car.

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Comment by Lenny Major on February 27, 2010 at 4:06pm
I enjoyed reading the story of your Thunderbird.I had a 56 tbird back in 1963 it was white with soft top,3
speed with overdrive.I paid $1500 & sold it a year later for the same price the car was mint.

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