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Ford concept car for sale: Thunderbird Italien


JamesR
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No price listed. Some people will call it a corruption of a Thunderbird, others will say that the company that created the Thunderbird has the right to explore different variations on that theme. I think it's kid of cool, but my eyes aren't quite used to it, either. I'd say they were trying to make the T-Bird a little more Maserati like, though the roof line and open "greenhouse" also reminds me of the cool 1960 Starliner coupe. Interested in your opinions on it pro or con, and what you think it might sell for.

 

1963-Ford-Thunderbird-Italien-Concept-St
 
 
https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/ford/thunderbird/2259884.html
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1 hour ago, suchan said:

Reminds me of an AMC Marlin...

 

I couldn't put my finger on it, but you're 100% right. I don't know if I don't like this Thunderbird because of how it actually looks or because I'm so used to how stock ones look. 

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Any guesses to what it might sell for? Hard to say with prototypes and concept cars, I'm sure, and I know nothing about this stuff, but it's safe to say having factory origins makes it worth many multiples of an independent project.

 

Is $200,000 way off? If so, which way?

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I guess $200K would be in the ballpark for someone who liked the look and the idea of having 1 of 1. After all, folks pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for nondescript '60's sedans that would otherwise end up rusting away in a dismantler's yard except that they have a rare, numbers matching high performance motor.  The early '60's TBird is a great design, like a bullet in flight. I think the squared-off passenger compartment balanced it. The roof line on this one seems like too much of a  good thing.

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I recall first seeing the '63 Thunderbird Italien photos in a copy of the Ford Times magazine that my father received as a customer of the local dealer.  First impression was it was neat they transplanted a '60-'61 Starliner roof onto a Thunderbird convertible body.  Of course, looking closers, that's not the case as the details are very different.  But the concept is the same.  Oddly enough, as attractive as it is, there was no follow-up as a production model for 1964, so it was a styling dead end.

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1 hour ago, 58L-Y8 said:

I recall first seeing the '63 Thunderbird Italien photos in a copy of the Ford Times magazine that my father received as a customer of the local dealer.  First impression was it was neat they transplanted a '60-'61 Starliner roof onto a Thunderbird convertible body. 

 

 

That's exactly how I perceived it, per my initial comment. It wouldn't surprise me if many others had that perception when it was made, too, and that might've made the project come across as a little cheesy for some back then. People might've thought Ford was just throwing together existing styling cues. As you said, it was the end of the run for the bullet bird and the Starliner roof had already been gone a couple of years by the time this car car was made.

 

Being removed by over 50 years, I don't personally see the car as cheesy. Even though my eyes aren't used to seeing that roof on that car, the lines are probably more congruous than the production T-bird, with it's square angular roof attached to a body that had a lot of curve in the side profile. Nevertheless, I love the look of the production bullet bird hard top. 

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1 hour ago, suchan said:

I guess $200K would be in the ballpark for someone who liked the look and the idea of having 1 of 1. After all, folks pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for nondescript '60's sedans that would otherwise end up rusting away in a dismantler's yard except that they have a rare, numbers matching high performance motor.  The early '60's TBird is a great design, like a bullet in flight. I think the squared-off passenger compartment balanced it. The roof line on this one seems like too much of a  good thing.

 

Great comment. As an owner of a '65 T-Bird, I personally love the looks of early and mid-60's T-Birds. I've never quite understood why they don't have greater market value. Not complaining, though, as it made my T-Bird obtainable to me.

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On 12/25/2019 at 11:04 AM, suchan said:

Reminds me of an AMC Marlin, and not in a good way. Being a prototype adds value for those who want to, and can afford, to buy one-offs, but on looks alone, I think the stock T-Bird is nicer. 

 

1 hour ago, GregLaR said:

Great pics Graham Man. It looks even better from the rear.

 

 

Side view reminds me of Marlin but rear is kinda 1st Gen 2+2 Mustang-y.  I like it although I could do without the side trim.  No clue how much it will bring - in addition to being factory one-off, it has Hollywood provenance.

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12 hours ago, GregLaR said:

Was it used in a movie?

 

 

From the Hemmings article linked in the OP:

 

Quote

DST then immediately sold the car to movie and television actor Dale Robertson. It is unclear if Robertson purchased the car (one source say he paid $10,000 for it), or if it was gifted to him. There is a hand written and signed note from Robertson stating it was presented to him by Ford. Dale Robertson appeared in many western movies and played Jim Hardie on the TV series “Tales of the West” and was guest star on other TV Westerns in the 1950's and 1960's including “Wagon Train” and later played JJ Starbuck on the TV series of the same name.

 

Apparently this was 1964 - Robertson passed it on to his gardener in 1965.

 

Anybody younger than us geezers may not remember Dale but he was pretty popular back then.  Hemmings got the name of his series wrong - it was Tales of Wells Fargo.

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43 minutes ago, GregLaR said:

Thanks for that info CHuDWah.

Doesn't it seem odd that one would be gifted a such a rare car (or pay an exorbitant price) and then just give it away 1 year later?

I wonder if that info is accurate?

 

 

Well, the article says Ford contracted DST to build the car and later sold it to them for $5K, about $41K in current dollars.  There is inconsistency whether DST sold it to Robertson for $10K or gifted it to him.  He previously had been gifted a Buick show car.  $10K was a lot of money then but no doubt Robertson was well-heeled enough to purchase it.  But the publicity from gifting it to him might have been worth it, especially if DST got Ford to subsidize the gift (which is supported by Robertson's note saying Ford gave the car to him).  The article says Robertson "passed it on" to his gardener.  It doesn't say whether it was a gift or a sale, although extravagant gifts from actors to their employees weren't all that unusual (especially if they were just re-gifting something for which they had no particular affinity).

 

https://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/dealer/ford/thunderbird/2259884.html

Edited by CHuDWah (see edit history)
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Good article, thanks for the link.

Not to go too far astray here, but I wonder if anyone knows what became of Dale Robertson's 1958 Buick Limited convertible that was "modified in a Wells Fargo theme"?

Certainly sounds like another interesting car from the era.

Greg

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10 minutes ago, GregLaR said:

Good article, thanks for the link.

Not to go too far astray here, but I wonder if anyone knows what became of Dale Robertson's 1958 Buick Limited convertible that was "modified in a Wells Fargo theme"?

Certainly sounds like another interesting car from the era.

Greg

 

 

Here ya go:

 

https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/AF18/Auburn-Fall/lots/r0387-1958-buick-wells-fargo-convertible/700913

 

Complete with Winchesters and six-shooters for fighting off all those road agents 🤣

 

wells-fargo-interior.jpg

 

Sotheby's listing was 2018 so apparently the car is still around.  I didn't research current owner but shouldn't be too hard to find.

 

If you want one of your very own, Sun Star made a 1/18 diecast model - they show up on eBay once in a while.

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Much like the Marlin and the first gen chargers, the windshield is just a little too steep and/or tall to smoothly pull off the sleek fastback behind it, it'd be weird but i'd almost rather see a '59 caddy windshield on that car, or at least something with that slope and height, then the fastback would make more sense, proportionally and otherwise, I think. It just doesn't flow as well as it could've. Oh and DEFINITELY no side molding or creases of any kind, aka: '61 birds. The original vision is usually the best..

Edited by jw1955buick (see edit history)
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18 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

Sotheby's listing was 2018 so apparently the car is still around.  I didn't research current owner but shouldn't be too hard to find.

 

 

I think the '58 Buick is now the New York State governor's parade car.

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Re the "T" bird, I'll bet Ian could make one out of a stock bird for about a third the 660K price tag.

And your right the top needs to come down in front about 4 inches to really work.

Chud's rendering "sans side trim" works well, but she needs rear fender skirts to give her that "rocket" look.

 

Just my $ .02, and worth every penny.

 

Mike in Colorado

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