International Thunderbird Club (ITC) Exhibit at the AACA Museum, Inc.

May 18 – October 14, 2018

We are excited to announce our Williams-Clyne Gateway Gallery will be home to some fabulous Thunderbirds May 18 through October 14, 2018. Gerard “Bart” Bartasavich, President of the International Thunderbird Club (ITC) will be guest curating the display here at the Museum featuring their favorite cars. During the course of the exhibit date, the specific vehicles on view will vary.

The first Thunderbirds that will be on view in the Williams-Clyne Gallery are a 1960 Thunderbird AACA ITC Senior Award Winner; a 1963 Principality of Monaco Thunderbird; and, the 1957 Battlebird Thunderbird. These specific vehicles will be on display until we roll in the next group at the beginning of the summer.

The 1960 Thunderbird (pictured below) AACA ITC Senior Award Winner is owned by Tom Young. Young first purchased the vehicle in 1991 as a rust free original California car and was interested in restoring it after his 25 years of drag racing in the NHRA Eliminator category. Beginning the restoration process, the car was completely stripped to bare metal, all suspension pieces powder coasted and all fasteners re-plated with chrome. As the years rolled on, Young collected New Old Stock parts to complete the restoration, but some items such as paint inspection stamps and wiring harness tags had to be handmade by Tom because they were not available for the car. Other than the paint and bodywork, Young did the entire restoration himself. After completing the restoration in 2006, Young entered into the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey, PA. The vehicles restoration was completed just 3 days before and won the “First Junior” award and has since won a ‘Senior” award, and a “First Grand National” award. In 2012, he won the coveted AACA “Thunderbird” award and to this date, this is the only 4 passenger Thunderbird to ever win. The 1960 Thunderbird was also a Senior Award winner with The International Thunderbird Club and a two-time Best of Show winner with another National Thunderbird Club.

   

This 1963 Principality of Monaco Thunderbird (pictured below) is number 325 out of only 2,000. These vehicles were quickly purchases by an eager luxury market and retailed for $4,500. This model was dubbed the ‘Princess Grace’ model by Ford after Grace Kelly cemented her role in history by marrying Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956. Princess Grace, had a part in the design of the vehicle, as she was consulted on the vehicles color scheme. She opted for Rose Beige Vinyl over the original design of Corinthian White and Ford was happy to abide by Princess Grace’s request. Car #1 debuted in February 1963 at the Monte Carlo Opera House and was presented to Prince Rainier as a gift from Ford. On February 7, 1963, Ford sent a letter to all prospective customers and had them postmarked from Monaco. The Principality of Monaco Thunderbird was quickly creating a buzz around the world, and was featured in magazines such as Vogue and was shown on The Ed Sullivan Show.

This Ford Thunderbird, known as a Bullet Bird, has a unique style and design featuring a 390 cubic inch. Engine, 300 hp, Cruise-O-Matic Transmission, Rose Beige Long-grained Vinyl Roof, White Crinkle/Vachette Leather and Rosewood interior Trim. The vehicle also includes carpeted door trim panel bottoms, Simulated Rosewood trim on the console, instrument panel, door panels, and rear quarter trim panels, and wood seat back emblem inserts. The “Princess Grace” also has a white steering wheel, deluxe wheel covers, and rear fender shields. The 1963 model is also the only model so equipped. This vehicle is on loan from Myrna and Steve Wishnick.

  

The 1957 Battlebird (pictured below) on loan by Richard Stuck has been drag raced at old-time drag events, made exhibitions laps and was the only post-1934 car ever allowed to make a run down the beach at The Race of Gentleman. After going on an extensive hunt for original photograph and articles about Battlebird #98, Mr. Stuck had redone all the work from the original vehicle. All necessary aluminum parts were fabricated, all chassis modifications were performed, and a 347 cubic inch 312 Ford Y-Block was built to power it. It took one year of full-time work to complete the car, but it is still considered a work in progress as more information on the Battlebird surfaces. To make the car period correct, all the graphics were hand painted by Joe Sannutti, a famous custom painter. The car is regularly driven to shows and events by Mr. Stuck.

Battlebirds were originally called Super Thunderbirds, but the press quickly took to calling them Battlebirds as they were to “battle” the Corvettes. These two cars, dubbed Domestic Ferraris by Sports Car Illustrated were built to run on the beach. They were stripped down to the bare essentials and all aluminum hoods, decks, tonneaus, head fairings and doors were fabricated in order to lighten them even further.  The large Thunderbird X frame was removed and replaces with just a cross member to hold the transmission and the engines that powered the Battlebirds were also highly modified. The cars first competed on the sands of Daytona on January 4, 1957. The Lincoln Powered car, driven by Danny Eames ran 160.356 MPD in the flying mile. In a one way run, the Ford Y-Block powered Battlebird ran 204 MPH and was the fasted car on the beach.

To accompany these beautiful Thunderbirds in the Williams-Clyne Gallery will be a large collection of Thunderbird memorabilia on loan from ITC Members Bob Mench of Delaware and Steve Legel of Michigan. The exhibit area will also include Artist Chris Osbourne’s original Thunderbird painting featuring Tony Bennett and other famous musicians to adorn the gallery.  ITC Members from across the country will also be sharing a variety of memorabilia items for display in the gallery cases.

To celebrate our newest exhibit we are kicking off with an Opening Reception on May 18th. Join us and be among the first to see these amazing vehicles as well as our new Mustangs: Six Generations of America’s Favorite Pony Car exhibit. Enjoy light snacks, a cash bar, and other beverages while enjoying both the vehicles and the company of other car enthusiasts.

During the Opening Reception, we have three extraordinary guests who will be participating in a panel discussion. We have Mr.Chuck Cantwell who was the project engineer for Shelby American for the GT 350. Cantwell is also the author of the recently published book: Shelby Mustang GT350: My Years Designing, Testing, and Racing Carroll’s Legendary Mustangs. Our second guest is Mr. John Clor, who joined the Ford Special Vehicle Team in 1995 and spent the better part of the next decade working on SVT Communications, PR and Marketing. Clor is currently the Enthusiast Communications Manager for Ford Performance, as well as the author of two books: Mustang 2015 The New Generation and The Mustang Dynasty. Clor is also the host of his own local cable-access TV Show,Cars in Context.” Mr. Art Hyde who is the Current Adjunct Professor in Integrative Systems and Design will also be joining us. Mr. Art was the former Chief Engineer at Ford Global Product Development System, and also worked as Mustang Chief Program Engineer. Mr. Art started his time working at Ford in 1977 completing various engineering and planning positions.

Tickets for the opening reception are just $15 dollars per person for the general public or free for current Museum Members, making this the ideal time to join our growing Museum family. Reserve your ticket today or purchase your Museum Membership by calling the Museum at 717-566-7100 or online here.

Our other exhibit that will open on May 18th is “Mustangs: Six Generations of America’s Favorite Pony Car” guest curated by Museum Volunteer, Jim Aberts. Aberts is a former Ford employee of 30 plus years and a life-long Ford enthusiast. The Mustangs: Six Generations of America’s Favorite Pony Car” exhibit will showcase six generations of Mustangs as well as featured Mustangs such as the 1963 Mustang III Concept Show Car, a T-5 European Export Fastback, a Saleen prototype, Boss Mustangs, Shelby’s, GT 350s, and many more! This exhibit runs May 18th through October 14th.

About the International Thunderbird Club (ITC)

The International Thunderbird Club is the ONLY International Thunderbird Club in the world whose common goal is the preserve and enjoy all Thunderbirds with family fellowship, shows, tours, seminars, technical help, parts availability, meetings and a great bi-monthly magazine the “ITC Thunderbird Script”. For more information on ITC, visit http://www.intl-thunderbirdclub.com/.