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Magic Skyway – 1964 “World’s Fair” Thunderbird

Magic Skybird Disney Wikia Photo 1964 Magic Skyway Thunderbird

Photo credit: Disney Wikia                            photo credit:  Mark Usciak

Hershey, PA (October 19, 2016)  The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA)  Museum is excited to showcase a distinctive vehicle with ties to the 1964-65 World’s Fair – a bit of Americana from days gone by.  A 1964 Thunderbird Convertible used in the 1964-65 World’s Fair “Magic Skyway” attraction will be on view through April 15, 2017 at the Museum.

 

History of the Magic Skyway:

Once upon a time, imagineers at Disney came up with an idea to create a ride where visitors would seemingly travel through time, all while inside a vehicle.   Thus, the Magic Skyway was born.   Like most Disney rides, a corporate sponsor was needed to provide funding.   Ford put their hat in the ring, requesting only that the ride vehicle be an actual new Ford car.     They created a track chain guided by wheels spaced every three feet, then welded a metal plate onto the undercarriage of the car.   This ride system would later be adapted for use in Disneyland’s PeopleMover.

 

In 1964, The Ford Rotunda at the World’s Fair  in New York was several city blocks in length and contained a few featured attractions – one of which was the “Magic Skyway”.  Seated in a variety of models of actual Ford convertible cars, visitors could sit in the car of their choice and ride on a track along the rotunda’s exterior taking in the overall view of the Fair followed by other diorama scenes built in the main exhibit hall.   A number of the exhibits featured in the Ford Rotunda were designed by WED Enterprises, Inc. (Walt Disney) architectural services and engineering company, including the “Magic Skyway.”

 

The cars selected were delivered to a local Ford dealer where their engine, transmission and drive shaft were removed and several large diameter holes were drilled into their undercarriage for attachment points to the Magic Skyway ride mechanism.   After the World’s Fair ended, the cars were returned to the dealer, their engines and drive trains were reinstalled and they were sold as “used” cars.  This 1964 Thunderbird currently on view at the AACA Museum is one of the actual cars used on the Magic Skyway.

 

Here is a film of the exhibit, presented by Ford Motor Company of the Magic Skyway:

 

History of “Margaret” 1964 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

 

The current owners of this vehicle, Dr. Allison & Mark Jackson of Birmingham Alabama have named this vehicle “Margaret”.  Why Margaret?

 

“I found her in a museum in West Virginia” states current owner Mark Jackson. “The owner didn’t want her because he was collecting corvettes and was going to put her outside since she was just an old ford”.  “I was in the Czech Republic on a business trip and the owner was on a business trip in Singapore” continues Jackson.  The owner said “make me an offer. I want it gone”.  So, continues Jackson, “I made the offer and he said yes. I wired the money and she was picked up.”

 

“As she arrived in Birmingham, a global announcement was made that Margaret Thatcher had died.  As I have British heritage, I was an admirer of the “Iron Lady”.   We named our “Iron Lady” after Britain’s Iron Lady- Margaret.”

 

She has undergone extensive restoration in order to become a “driver”.  Margaret was acquired by the Jackson family in early 2013 and is listed in the Thunderbird Registry as a significant Thunderbird.     Her production date was August 8, 1963, VIN – 4Y85Z100073.    The car has a Desert Tan exterior and Palomino interior along with an original 390 engine, with  300 horsepower.    The original sticker price of the car was $4,426.73.  Enjoy this unique vehicle with an interesting past – just like her namesake.

About the AACA Museum

The AACA Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, displays beautifully restored automobiles, buses and motorcycles in unique life-like scenes representing the 1890s – 1980s in a cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco.   This Museum, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, is known to be one of the largest automotive museums.  Special exhibits change several times a year and focus on a variety of eras and types of vehicles.  The Museum is in South Hanover Township, located just off Route 39, one mile west of Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Regular admission $12, seniors age 61 and older $11, juniors age 4-12 $9, children age 3 and under and AACA Members are FREE.  The Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  For further information, please call 717-566-7100 or visit www.AACAMuseum.org.

 

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