CHASSIS NO: 0Y71Y170331
• One of only two produced in collaboration with Ford Motor Company
• Body, bumpers, and grille fashioned from Type 302 stainless steel
• First automotive application of stainless steel for exhaust systems
• Stainless steel body panels stamped by Allegheny Ludlum
• Body hand-assembled by Budd, Ford's Thunderbird body supplier
• Finished at the end of 1960 Thunderbird production at Ford’s Wixom plant
• Retained by Allegheny Ludlum following early promotional and show use
352 cid V-8 engine, Holley four-barrel carburetor, 300 HP, three-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 113"
Conceived in 1956, mid-way through the original two-seater Thunderbird’s production run, the second-generation Ford Thunderbird was officially introduced to the public in January 1958. Markedly different from, and much larger than, its predecessor, the 1958-60 “Square Bird” emphasized “Jet Age” styling and luxury over sportiness with seating for up to four. After three successful years of competing with Chevrolet’s harder-edged Corvette for sales, the larger Thunderbird clearly demonstrated Ford product planners and designers correctly understood that far more Americans wanted to buy a sporty-looking luxury car, rather than a full-bore sports car. The motoring press agreed, with the new Thunderbird winning Motor Trend magazine’s coveted “Car of the Year” award.
While the 1960 Thunderbird was much the same in terms of styling as the previous two model years, a new grille, new triple taillight clusters, and small trim revisions kept the glamorous Ford fresh. Underhood, a high-torque 352 cubic-inch V-8 engine was standard, offering 300 horsepower on command. Nearly 93,000 Thunderbirds were produced in all for 1960 and with their good looks, abundant comfort, great drivability, and very active club and parts support. The 1958-60 “Square Birds” are highly sought-after by today’s collectors and marque enthusiasts.
Of all second-generation Thunderbirds, the most enigmatic and collectible are without doubt the two stainless steel-bodied cars finished on July 11, 1960 at Ford Motor Company’s Wixom, Michigan assembly plant. As the latest stainless steel cars built for Allegheny Ludlum in collaboration with Ford Motor Company, the 1960 Thunderbirds were both hardtop coupes, with their bodies carefully hand-built by craftsmen at Budd Corporation’s Detroit production facility. The choice of Budd for this work was logical, given the Philadelphia-based company’s vast experience producing regular Thunderbird bodies, plus stainless steel rail cars, aircraft, and defense equipment.
As with the prior batches of stainless steel 1931 and 1936 Fords, stamping of the Thunderbird bodies – including some 300 individual parts requiring 1,000 dies – was accomplished late in the 1960 Thunderbird production run to avoid excessive damage to the tooling by the harder Type 302 stainless steel. Trim was fashioned of Type 430 stainless steel and, for the first time, exhaust systems were fabricated from Type 409 stainless steel. While production Thunderbirds already boasted myriad stainless steel parts and trim components including the hubcaps, windshield moldings, insignia, rocker panel trim, window frames, and interior trim, the stainless steel bumpers were yet another innovation applied to the pair of stainless steel-bodied Thunderbirds.
Powerplants were 300-horsepower, 352 cubic-inch V-8 units, driving standard-issue Ford automatic transmissions. Underneath their gorgeous exteriors, the Thunderbirds utilized regular-production chassis and suspension components. White-painted carbon steel was used for the inner hoods, trunks, and door frames, while inner wheel housings and some floor panel parts were made of galvanized steel. Once the bodies were assembled by Budd, they were shipped to Ford’s nearby Wixom, Michigan Thunderbird plant for final assembly, detailing, and interior installation. Upholstery was rich, long-lasting top grain leather. Given the intricate nature of their materials and construction, the Thunderbirds were produced at a massive estimated cost of $25,000 - $30,000 each.
As expected, the Thunderbirds were extensively publicized and used for promotional purposes by Allegheny Ludlum. Many photographs were published and distributed during the Thunderbirds’ early career, which always drew admiring crowds wherever they appeared. Following retirement from front-line show duty, they were retained by Allegheny Ludlum, with one subsequently acquired by Cleveland’s Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. The example offered here remained with Allegheny Ludlum, with its closely-followed history discussed in several magazine articles published in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Delightful 1960s photographs and postcards also accompany the sale of this wonderful 1960 Ford Thunderbird, along with the 1936 Ford and 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible offered as part of The Historic Stainless Steel Trifecta.