The naming of the Ford Thunderbird was a difficult process, since over 5000 entries were entertained. A $250.00 prize was offered to anyone who could come up with a name. The name 'Thunderbird' was submitted by Alden Gibberson, the stylist. The name became official on February 15, 1954. Gibberson never claimed his prize, though he did settle for a new suit and an extra pair of trousers from Saks Fifth Avenue.
At the Detroit auto show held on February 20th of 1954, the Thunderbird was shown to the public. The first production vehicle came off the line on September 9th of that year. Delivery of the vehicles began on the 22nd of October with over 4000 orders taken on the first day of sale. The fibreglass removable top was standard. Offered as optional equipment was the fabric convertible top. Under the hood was a 292 cubic inch Y-Block V8 that produced just under 200 horsepower. This was the only engine available when the Thunderbird was first introduced.