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My First Car: 1955 Ford Thunderbird, Wayne Gleaton, 68, Thonotosassa

'55 Ford Thunderbird

My first car was a 1955 Ford Thunderbird. In 1964, a childhood friend of mine told me about the car, which was for sale at Mason's Motors on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. (I've pretty much lived in Tampa all my life.) My dad, who was a big T-Bird fan, and I went down to look at it. My dad ended up buying the car for $1,400. We had it repainted and reupholstered and I had to wait two long years before I could drive it by myself without someone over 18 in the vehicle. I drove it for two years in high school and when I went on to FSU my brother drove it in high school. It then sat in my dad's garage for more than 30 years. That same childhood friend and I, with my dad's permission, decided to do a frame-off restoration (taking the body off the frame and rebuilding the vehicle from the tires up), restoring it to the way it was in high school. That T-Bird is now in my garage, so it has been in my family for more than 50 years. I still get a kick out of driving it occasionally.

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