The Ford Thunderbird Italian's Story.....
1963 Ford Thunderbird Italien Concept The 1963 Thunderbird Italien, showcased in Ford’s 1962-63 Custom Car Caravan and at the 1964 New York World Fair’s Cavalcade of Custom Cars.Designed by Ford stylists in Detroit, the basic body shell was delivered to the Dearborn Steel Tubing company in 1962. DST fabricated the unique fastback roofline out of fiberglass and installed many of the special trim and performance parts, including a 406 cubic inch Tri-Power V8. It had no serial number and was assigned the concept number S-5787-10.After its success on the show circuit (it also appeared on a least four magazine covers), the Italien was ordered to be scrapped, but TV actor Dale Robertson, of Tales of Wells Fargo fame, had fallen in love with the car and wanted to buy it.DST, which had been paid $11,000 by Ford for its work to complete the car, offered to buy it back for $5,000. For whatever reasons, Ford broke its “crush ’em” rule and sold the Italien to DST, which then turned a nice profit by re-selling the car to Robertson for $10,000.Robertson drove it for a number of years in Hollywood, but as the car began to deteriorate, it then went through a number of owners. Originally finished in candy apple red, the Italien was repainted at least three times – once silver by Robertson, following a minor traffic mishap, and then metallic blue and black by later owners.Eventually, the Italien was purchased by California collector Don Chambers in 1986. He sold the partially disassembled car to Tom Maruska, of Duluth, Minn., in 2006 and thus began a complete restoration that took almost two years. (The full story is available at www.tbirdsquare.com.)In January, Maruska offered the Italien with no reserve at Barrett-Jackson’s annual Scottsdale, Ariz., collector car auction where it brought $600,000 – a bargain, perhaps, when you consider the scarcity of Ford concepts.The purchaser was the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, Calif., near San Francisco, where the Italien joins a collection more than 90 vehicles and will be on public display for the first time since 1964.