from page 56 of William Wonder's Thunderbird Restoration Guide:
Perhaps the most unique 1960 models ever produced, however, would be those ordered by the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in July 1960, near the end of the production run. Two stainless steel versions of the production 'Bird hardtop were produced at a reported cost in excess of $35,000 . These agless 'Birds were produced on the regular production line of the Wixom, Michigan plant.
More than 1,000 dies produced over 300 stainless steel components used in the fabrication of each car, including bumpers grilles and exhaust. Bodies were fabricated on the regular production dies at the Budd Co in Detroit, using stainless steel featuring a special satin finish, not unlike the later Deloreans. Being the end of the regular production run, and sinde 1960s ended the Thunderbird's third year of the second generation body style, these dies would no longer be needed and were ultimately, and unfortunately, destroyed during the production of these two "ageless" 1960 Thunderbirds.
The bumpers and additional trim featured mirror polished stainless steel. Polishing cost alone for these exterior components was reportely $3000 per car. The Thunderbird's normal weight of 3957 pounds was duplicated by using Type 302 stainless for the body panels and Type 430 for the trim. Because the maximum rolling mill for stainless only produced stock that was 72 inches in width, numerous ideas were tried, and an expenditure of $10,000 was made in attempt to obtain the 84 inch width required to form the Thunderbird's roof panel. Eventually two 42 inch sections were welded together to form the roof, with only a very faint trace line visible.
These stainless 'Birds, based in Pittsburgh and Detroit,, were used for automotive shows and special exhibitions throughout the United States and most of Euorope. The Pittsburgh car has appeared in over 30 parades and racked up some 120,000 miles, traveling one coast to the other several times. The Detroit car has also appeared in numerous shows and parades and has logged approximately 80,000 miles, including one trip to the West Coast. Both cars are in excellent condition today, requiring only minor tuneups and an occasional wash with soap and water.
Although both cars received interior and mechanical restorations in the early to mid 80s, with various components such as valve covers and wheel covers being replaced with non stock items over the years, the two stainless Birds will inevitably outlast all their model year predecessors, remaining timeless and shining examples of Ford's personal luxury leader for 1960!
note: page 55 has a picture beloning to Alan Tast of one of them.
Ray, I am not convinced there was more than one set of dies. Dies are terribly expensive to create and, if only used for 3 years, durable enough. If making the two SS cars destroyed them, that reaffirms my feeling. However, as always, that's just an opinion.
Maybe we could track down William Wonder!!
ps the online sampling of Wonder's book does not have this material so I copied it for everyone to read.
Last edited by JohnG : 04-29-2009 at 09:29 AM.