The Award-Winning 1955 Ford Thunderbird

- in Cars

Dwanye Peace’s bright-red T-Bird has already collected two major industry awards. It took home the Ridler Award at the Detroit Autorama and, won the Golden Builder Award at the HRR Trade Show.

By the time Dwayne Peace’s 1955 Ford Thunderbird arrived at Greening Auto Co. in Nashville, it had already been through a year-and-a-half of restoration courtesy of Peace’s sons, Jonathan and Matt. The Peace family had big plans for the T-Bird that had been in their family for many years: to turn it into a Ridler winner.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom right front
“The car had been in their family for about 20 years prior to them tearing it down to make a hot rod out of it,” said Jesse Greening, co-owner of Greening Auto Co. “Their intent for the car was to compete for the Ridler Award in Detroit.”


Jonathan Peace designed the car knowing that it was going to become a one-off show car. He and his brother stripped down the car and found that it had very little rust inside the shell. The brothers created a custom chassis for the car, as well as the internal roll cage and flooring, and did many of the body modifications, including extending the front hood scoop, changing the wheel wells and extending the wheel base. They also built the car’s headers and exhaust system.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom
Around this time, the Peace family began to look for a shop to do the T-Bird’s paint. They were referred to Greening Auto Co. by another one of the shop’s customers.


“They were busy making the chassis and doing the bulk of the sheet metal work,” said Greening. “When Greening Auto Co. received it, we finished up and refined the sheet metal work to final-fit the newly machined one-off pieces for the car.”

Award wining 1955 Ford Thunderbird rear end
All of the machining was done in-house at Greening Auto Co. by Greening, and staff members Jason Norberg and Wes and Matt McCutcheon. That same team created the T-Bird’s side trim, grille, exhaust tip, taillights and trim, custom wheels and steering wheel.

Award wining 1955 Ford Thunderbird front
Greening, Bobby Jackson and Jason Stice hand-made the trim that goes around the car’s cockpit and windshield.




From there, the team at Greening Auto Co. prepped and painted the car using the Glasurit 90 Line of water-based paint in “Brilliant Red.” The car was sprayed in the shop’s in-house paint booth.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom interior
Next, it was time to create the T-Bird’s custom interior. Jonathan Peace sent his designs for the interior to Paul Atkins of Paul Atkins Custom Auto Interiors in Hanceville, Alabama, who did all of the leather work. The car’s interior, like the exterior, was designed to be clean, simple and neat.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom left top
Advanced Plating (which had formerly occupied the building that now houses Greening Auto Co.) was enlisted to do all of the Thunderbird’s chrome plating.




Under the hood sit 1,150hp / 925 lb-ft of torque Twin-Turbo from Gale Banks Engineering that certainly makes a statement.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom 1150hp motor
After three-and-a-half years of hard work, the car was finished in time to be entered into the Autorama, which would make it eligible to take home the Ridler Award. In February, the T-Bird beat out just over 60 cars to win what is one of the industry’s biggest honors.

1955 Ford Thunderbird custom left three quater
Fresh off their big win at the Autorama, Greening and his crew decided to take the car to the Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show, arriving right before the cutoff to enter the car into the running for the Golden Builder Award. Once again, the bright-red T-Bird beat out an impressive field of competitors to snag its second big award.



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