T-bird for two | TheUnion.com

T-bird for two

Ken and Iva Lane will tell you that they feel as if they have been living their second childhood since they bought their 1956 Ford Thunderbird. When Ken was 18 years old, he had a 1955 T-Bird and loved the car. He sold it when he joined the Air Force and had regretted it ever since.

The Grass Valley residents had been looking for years for an early two-seater ‘Bird, but weren’t finding one that met their expectations. An ad in a magazine led them to Hawaii for what sounded like the perfect ‘Bird. A plane ticket, inspection and test drive told Ken that it wasn’t the car for him. Coming home tanned but disappointed, he began to think he would never have the car he wanted.

A few weeks after his return, his daughter called and said, “Dad, I found your car.” The car was located in Sherman Oaks, in Southern California. Ken and Iva contacted the owner and after much discussion, decided to fly down and look at it. The minute Lane saw the ‘Bird, he knew it was the one for him. It had been recently restored with all of the original equipment still in place, and drove like a dream. After a bit of negotiation, the T-Bird was purchased and Ken and Iva decided they would forego the peanuts and Coke on the airplane and just drive it home. The Lanes said the drive home was an absolute pleasure, trouble free and exhilarating.

The Thunderbird is equipped with its original engine, which is a 292 cubic inch V-8. For those of you that know Thunderbirds, you know that this is a very early ’56 because it does not have the 312 cubic inch engine. It actually is production number 35, out of 15,697 built in 1956. The V-8 engine is backed up by an automatic transmission and easily cruises at 70 miles an hour.

The convertible was optioned with power steering, power brakes, power seats, telescopic steering wheel and town and country radio. It also was ordered with the distinctive Continental kit that carried the spare tire on the rear of the car. The car was repainted its original white color and Lane had the interior done in the original tuxedo black and white.

Ken, who is a member of the Roamin Angels car club, entered the Thunderbird in the club’s display in the Sacramento Autorama last month. It was a beautiful display, and I personally feel it should have won first place. But we all know how the politics go in car show judging. Maybe next year they’ll ask me to judge. Ha.

The Lanes say, “The Roamin Angels are a great bunch of people, they are people you can be comfortable around and relax and enjoy yourself.” And Fast Jack agrees with those sentiments. The Lanes say that one of the greatest joys they get from the car is when they drive down the road and they get a “thumbs up” from old and young people alike. Ken said he thought it was for him, but if you’ve ever seen Ken, you know it’s for the car.

As you can see from the side photo, with its black top folded down, this little ‘Bird has a beautiful stance and that just-right styling. I don’t know anything a person could do to improve the appearance of this car. Ford did good-and so did Ken.


Just got back from California Speedway. Nearly wore my poor ol’ body out, but had a wonderful time.

I had an experience of a lifetime. While there I was asked to make arrangements for and host two of racing’s icons-the legendary drivers Carroll Shelby and Phil Hill. What an honor it was for me to be in the presence of these two greats and be able to actually sit down and hold a conversation with them. What a contrast these men are. You have the huge, loud outspoken Texan, Carroll Shelby, and the small, soft-spoken Phil Hill. The respect that they showed for each other was something I wish everyone could see. I could go on for hours about the experience and the things that went on, but since I’m limited by space, I’ll just let it go at this. I will tell you that neither is extremely picky about what they eat, because they loved the chicken sandwiches I made for them.

Just an “atta boy” for the Roamin Angels car club. One of the people I ran across in the media center while making arrangements for the pair was a representative for Eagle One. When he found out I was from Grass Valley, he couldn’t stop talking about our local club, the Roamin Angels, and the fact that they had come in second place two years in a row for the Car Club of the Year. It made me quite proud to have them representing our community.

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