Earlier this afternoon, I had a lengthy, enjoyable and very informative conversation with Gene Makrancy, author, photographer and chronicler of these stainless steel Ford cars. He will be sending me some 30 pictures of these cars in various stages of being built, along with a brochure. He has made a number of trips to Allegheny-Ludlum for interviews and photo shoots. While on one of the latter a few years ago, he actually got to drive one of the Tbirds for a short distance. He has confirmed a number of things that have been said by Alan and others. But first of all, here is something that Phil sent me last night.
"It has long been a misconception that these were the last cars off the assembly line. While the tooling may have been damaged (it was NOT) from the stainless process, remember that there were often more than one set of tools, especially when pumping out nearly 100,000 copies.
When talking with Gene, he confirmed that, surprisingly, the tooling was NOT damaged by the process according to what he was told. He also confirmed some other things. As Phil said, these SS cars were NOT the last cars through the Wixom line. They were put through on July 11, 1960, just as Allegheny-Ludlim said. The shells and panels were made prior to that, at the end of the Budd Body Co.'s
production run. And therein lies the misleading story all these years about these Tbirds being run at the end of the WIXOM
According to Gene, Budd had run all the remaining shells, panels, welded them to the shells, and stock piled them for use in the July, August, and September scheduled runs. So, sometime before July 11th, they ran the production run for the SS cars. The final '60 Tbirds to come out of the Budd line. A lot of the work had to be hand done after the shells and panels were cut. When completed, they were sent on to the Wixom line to be inserted into the processing stream. He said that it caused quite a lot of excitement on the line when they started processing through. But, except for the finish, they were just like any other Tbird and they went about their job of finishing them off as they traveled down the line. I will have pictures soon showing them or the '66 Lincolns going down the line with Tbirds ahead or behind them.. Maybe the same with the '60 SS Tbird run. I will post the pictures when I get them from Gene.
Let me see what else I can tell you. We had a long conversation. Oh, I think this was interesting. He said after the '66 Lincolns were built, someone decided to hold one up because the '67's were coming out soon and they wanted to show off one as a '67. So they put some '67 parts on one of them to make it look like a '67. That is why, he said, if you look at one of them, it will be different from the other two.
He also said these Lincolns were sent to a car dealership in PA for testing and evaluation. The PA State Police were involved in the safety evaluations and would not allow them to pass inspection because they were to bright and flashy! They insisted that their finish be dulled because they were concerned about them being so flashy and reflecting light so much that they could cause accidents. So the cars had to be scrubbed and their surfaces dulled to the point where they could pass inspection! This process cost either $3,000 or $5,000 per car. I do not remember which.
He also confirmed that the bumpers, grills and their trimmings were NOT chrome, but stainless steel polished to look like chrome. He said these cars have been redone several times to update and keep them in good shape, but those who own them now seem to not be paying a lot of attention to them any longer, which is a shame.
He also told me that not only were there these cars made in stainless steel but that there were several trucks also made. However, the company who bought out the company who owned them did not want to bother with them. They considered it an unneeded expense and scrapped them!
Well, my brain is about fried trying to remember everything he told me, but this is a good part of it. I hope you enjoy these comments passed on to me. Here are several pictures I already had. They probably have been posted before on here, but I figured I would put them in this dedicated SS post for posterity. More pictures to follow when I get them.