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  #11  
Old 01-02-2011, 01:09 AM
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Default More Information From Mark

The following is a result of several more PM's or emails from Mark about his Tbird(s). Mostly about the '59. Hopefully, he will send me some pix of his '60 430MEL Golde Top also.

"This 59 never had anything! It was tough to steer and took someone used to stopping farm trucks to stop it without power brakes. There is nothing behind the dash and certainly nothing in the engine compartment. I have taken all that in and out when I replaced the dash pad. There was nothing but a rats nest of mismatched wires and inline fuses everywhere. And a radio and heater. And factory, (My Note: Almost certainly NOT factory. They did not install seat belts at the factory to my knowledge) very industrial looking seat belts, almost military style with heavy webbing and dull aluminum flip locks. Looking back,that seems odd for a car that had only 30,000 miles on it. The 60 SR was much better organized.

And I have a little experience swinging wrenches since we had between 10 and 15,000 cubic inches of engine and farm machinery to maintain and my father and I did it all."

Next comments:

"What if one of the scrapped T-birds had been a Ford concept car that they usually destroy anyhow. What if it came from Ford that way and was never really raced, only sort of test set up that way. Maybe it was all Ford, including the shock towers and suspension changes and limited accessories and the vents were part of the concept ideas." (My note: First of all, I doubt that the 6 "scrapped" Tbirds that "fell down an elevator shaft at the factory and they were brought to Omaha for scrap" never fell down an elevator. Someone on the Ford racing team probably used this as a reason to ship 6 Tbirds to Burdick to use in racing against the non-Ford NASCAR cars. They probably marked 6 cars as being scrapped for whatever reasons and then had them shipped to Burdick to be "scrapped". I don't think this was a concept car either. I think either it was a car from Burdick's that was only partially modified. Or it was someone else, a person, or some other shop that had some ideas about cooling the engine and started this modification but did not finish it. I have not seen vents cut in the other racing Tbirds of H&M or Burdick cars. I doubt that Ford had anything to do with the modifications made to the car. It is my thinking that car left the factory exactly as the Data Plate says. I have asked Mark if he has found a ROT/Build Sheet for it, because if he has, it will tell him exactly what was on the car or was not, when it rolled out the door.

It is a long shot but speculation is all I have to go on after so many years of asking around."

Next comments:

"The 1959 is: J9YH165343, This is the Avancier T-Bird. In looking at the steering wheel and steering column on this car, the center medalian does not say power steering and there is no shift location insert for automatic transmissions. And from my recollections, the wiring is a mess with none of the wiring colors and stripes matching from the front side of the car to the rear. The 60 SR is just fine! Also, not unusual I suppose for work done back then, but all the body work done was in lead. Did you ever run across that sketch of a Ford T-bird with the vents sketched in like mine. It was a copy from Ford archives I saw somewhere a long time ago. Part of me thinks this was a collection of efforts combining custom concepts, racing configuration and a test vehicle for Ford or someone with Fords support. Supposedly, from what I understand, there were several people in Omaha with direct connections to Fords racing interests and had direct Ford support, separate and apart from Holman and Moody?

I asked Dad again about his memories and he said that they also told him they were running speed trials on open highway west of Omaha. He said he does not really remember who it was he talked to, just the person he talked to on the phone when he asked about the background of the car when we bought it. That was the same conversation I guess when they told him they did not know if they would be running as a convertible or not. Lots of loose ends but from so long ago that there is little way to connect it all into one history.

Is this the way you would set up a car more for speed trials than circle track racing. And why? Does Dad's recollection have merit of guaranteeing 180mph per Ford. 160 is a piece of cake and you can eat it at the same time at that speed!!

The 1960 Sunroof is : OY71J114482 early production with smooth band. It did have a wind bar on it originally. I gave it someone in Calif in about 1974 who was restoring to original and I did not want it on. The 60 is modified anyhow so original potential is long gone."

Next comments:

"I lived in Austin for a couple years and got down to San Antonio once in while. As I mentioned, somewhere in the boxes of slides I have from long long ago is the Avancier T-Bird in Lukenbach (TX). I should try to find it.

On one of my business trips in the last couple years, I stopped at the NASCAR museum in Mooresville and looked at the one they have on display. I also had my laptop with the picture I sent to you to show them. They were puzzled at the car and had no idea, which did not surprise me. They did let me crawl around the car on display and look under it. That car was definitely set up for racing with all the roll bar attachments and multiple shocks mounts and I believe a guard around the drive shaft. Mine does not seem to have had any of that.

What I did notice was the quality of the welding of the shock mounts on my car was very neatly and professionally done. Not so much on the museum car! The wheel wells are still completely intact, in the original profile, although slightly bulged out as if to give a little more room for tire changing.

(My Note: The following is somewhat of a repeat of an earlier post with some additional information.)

Here is another little anecdote from the memory of someone who was around the people who owned and raced Johnny Buechamps car that almost won that 1st Daytona. He said Ford aproached them to see if they wanted to race for Ford. He said sure but he had nothing to race. This persons recollections, which I have in an email to me, said one day a truck pulled into their shop with a bunch of T-birds on it. When someone asked where they came from, the driver said "they fell down an elevator shaft at Ford" . He does not know how many were left there. He also said he thought Ford tried to get into the game later on by building their own versions of race prepped T-Birds? He said it might be possible a couple of these were sent to McFayden Ford in Omaha. But that is total speculation. He has seen the pictures of my car, but can add little of concrete substance to the conjecture.

What I really want to know is if this might have been a car sent to Omaha, to those racing the T-Birds, and they were asked to work on keeping these cars on the ground at the speeds they could go. My 60 with the 430 will reach about 150 mph and then the hood buckles and pops the latches. Otherwise it was starting to drift sideways at that speed.

With the 59, at 160 mph, you can eat a Big Mac and super size drink because the car is steady as a rock at 160 mph and backing off the accelerator. Dad said he was told it was guaranteed to reach 180 mph by the used car dealer we bought it from. I don't know about that, but 160 mph and steady is not that far off!! The little piece of paper that came with the car had a hand written list of "upgrades" including heavy duty everything. (My note: NOW I just noticed what he said! "That little piece of paper that came with the car had a hand written list of "upgrades"" could be the ROT/Build Sheet I was asking Mark if he had! I have asked him for a copy of it.) You can let the clutch out in 3rd gear from a dead stop and accelerate to about 100 mph and then shift into overdrive to go on up to 150 plus and never touch the clutch again from that dead stop. By the way, it has over sized drum brakes all the way around, no disc brakes. (My Note: I took them to be disc brakes from the look of them!)

The radiator cap you see is my own modification to move the expansion tank from over the engine to the fender wall. It always leaked and was hard to get that pot metal flange to stay tight. After I made my own tank, and added a flex fan with shroud, I never had another heating problem or water leak problem. Both 430's had the same problem and both got fixed the same way. So, before that, there was nothing but the engine compartment you could see looking down the little scoop opening. But I always knew the original expansion tank was leaking again because antifreeze droplets would start hitting the passenger side windshield coming out of that little reverse scoop.

That is a neatly formed little trough coming out of that opening! The entire effort there has no obvious use. Assuming they just wanted to let more air out for some reason, they sure did not need to form that trough. And from an appearance standpoint, form had to follow function, because for visual reasons, that trough is pointless. Unless something from the passenger compartment went in and out of the engine compartment for monitoring? Then a little trough would be understandable, if not preferred or required, by tech people wanted to keep wires and hoses from flying around? Would locals go to that much work or is that a hallmark of a factory mentality."

More comments:

"Alan Tast lives here in Nebraska, not too far from me, and I gave him the VIN numbers and he has seen a picture of it. I tried to relay some of the anecdotal information to him as well. (My Note: I am trying to get the two of them together so Alan can go over the car(s) in detail.) The car seems to have no beginning and seems to be presumed simply a customized T-Bird, which it is. But why weld in additional shock towers in front that limit the turning radius of the tires before hitting the locks? Why weld in traction bars? Why mold in a " small hood scoop" on one side that adds nothing aesthetically, as would a show car modification would explain. Why a show car without a single typical accessory that would be considered a "nice touch" for a show car. It has a radio and heater, that's it. And why not power steering at least? With that 430 engine, it is hard to steer with manual steering. And why a 3 speed transmission, on the column no less, for show car? The only comparable rationale is that is exactly how the race cars were done. Except, no vents on the fenders and hood. Some have suggested it was converted to a show car after being built into the race configuration. That would make sense certainly. And so we are left with the ultimate question with no basis for explanation..........AVANCIER."

"Reply about power brakes: This has the 3 speed overdrive in it. The pedals are just plain rubber, as you might see in a basic Ford car of that era which is probably where they got the clutch and brake pedals when it was equipped from the factory that way." (My Note: I had asked Mark if the brake pedal had the POWER BRAKE word on it, indicating that it left the factory with power brakes in place. If it did, someone replaced it.)

I am up to date on comments from Mark. There you have the saga of the '59 Tbird Race Car.. On Monday, I plan on calling Holman-Moody to see if anyone is still there who can tell me about their racing Squarebirds. Both of Marks Squarebirds have now been registered in the Tbird Registry by me this evening.
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Last edited by YellowRose : 01-02-2011 at 10:28 AM. Reason: Additional Information
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2011, 08:28 AM
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Better have some good tires on that car if you're going to be blasting down a deserted Nebraska highway at 150mph ...

I'd be interested to know what sort of HP that motor has, and what rear end gears it has.
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  #13  
Old 01-02-2011, 10:37 AM
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Default A '59 Mystery Tbird Set Up For Racing...

Hi Greg, Down in the text of one of the initial posts is the full breakdown of the VIN # and Data Plate information. It left the factory with the standard 430MEL engine in it and an Axle Code of 5 = 2.91:1, the standard axle on a Tbird with a 430MEL engine. As far as I know, and Mark can tell us if this is different, it still has that axle in it. I do not know if someone souped up the 430MEL or not, and he might not know.
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2011, 12:23 PM
AVANCIER THUNDERBIRD AVANCIER THUNDERBIRD is offline
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Default Rear Axle ratio comment

Ray, the hand written note, not a factory note, says the axle ratio is 4:11.

When I was working on the car way back in the 70's, it was not unusual for me to take it out on the asphalt road and take it up to 140 mph as a routine. I had brand new 15 inch Michelins on it. The 160 mph was much less often since it seemed a quantum jump in speed as compared to a relatively mild 140 mph. And the tach was pushing the limit I thought for that engine. The car ran very smooth and very comfortably at 140, so that kind of became the typical high end just for the fun of it. As I mentioned, the 60 would start drifting a little at 140+ until the hood buckled and the latches let go, then it was ok too at 140 mph. It has an automatic and 2:91 .

But it was fun with the 59 to start in high gear and simply not shift except into overdrive and feel and hear the engine pulling faster and faster. Starting out in that was is not advisable if you want to keep your clutch, but it seemed to lock up fast and not slip at all. But I did that only very occasionally.

thanks

mark


Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowRose View Post
Hi Greg, Down in the text of one of the initial posts is the full breakdown of the VIN # and Data Plate information. It left the factory with the standard 430MEL engine in it and an Axle Code of 5 = 2.91:1, the standard axle on a Tbird with a 430MEL engine. As far as I know, and Mark can tell us if this is different, it still has that axle in it. I do not know if someone souped up the 430MEL or not, and he might not know.
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2011, 12:42 PM
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Default A '59 Mystery Tbird Set Up For Racing...

Mark, your '59 Tbird is now in the Tbird Registry as #34135.

http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...ryNumber=34135

Your 1960 J Code Tbird was submitted by the Heartland Vintage Tbird Club quite some time back, I gather because it is # 1521 in the registry.

http://www.tbirdregistry.com/viewdat...tryNumber=1521

If you will send me the Data Plate information on it, I can update that part of the Tbird Registry for you. John Rotella, of Love Fords website also runs the Thunderbird Registry www.tbirdregistry.com
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2011, 01:02 PM
Alan H. Tast, AIA Alan H. Tast, AIA is offline
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I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this as I have more-important things to tend to right now, but here's a few observations to consider:

1. My understanding of the Holman-Moody built '59s is that the bodies delivered to them were considered "rejects" due to damage during assembly, and that none of them were assigned a serial number. The running gear was also considered to be rejects or not fit for use on finished cars, and shipped to H-M in crates as part of a "deal" to buy scrap from the plant manager at Wixom. This, in part, allowed Ford "plausible deniability" for providing factory support due to the Automotive Manufacturers' Association (AMA) ban on such activities during the period. It also allowed H-M to build up the cars from bare body shells as opposed to buying completed cars and stripping them out, which would have been a real waste of money, time and effort. This story is covered in THE book on Ford racing, "Ford: The Dust and the Glory."

2. Re. the Johnny Beauchamp/Burdick/Daytona '500' connection, Beauchamp was from west-central Iowa and spent much of his early career racing in the Midwest, including Playland Park in Council Bluffs (which is across the river from Omaha). I had the opportunity to interview an old friend/pit man of his from Harlan, IA in '94 (whom is since deceased) when I was researching my first book. He didn't know much about the T-birds as he wasn't wrenching for Beauchamp during the period, but he did tell me that part of the controversy about the finish of the race and the delayed awarding of 1st Place to Lee Petty was due to the fact that Petty's wife was the scorekeeper for the race. Conflict of interest? You be the judge - let's just say that after I heard this story I lost all respect for NASCAR and haven't followed it since.

3. The Burdick family ran a salvage yard/parts/repair business in Omaha that's still in business as far as I know. I haven't attempted to contact them about the '59 T-bird racing effort in part due to stories I've been told that they weren't really interested in "revisiting history" and opening old wounds. My understanding is that they were purchasing the Beauchamp-driven race car they sponsored from H-M but that it had been reposessed by mid-season. A fair amount of local press dwelled on the '59 Daytona "500"/Beauchamp/Burdick connection on the 50th Anniversary of the race, and the Burdicks didn't really want to talk much to the major local newspaper here about it.

4. There's been several people who have claimed that dual shocks on the front end could have been had for '58s, and some have installed both the outboard shocks/backets (originally installed in anticipation of using the air bag suspension system that was cancelled before production began) along with the inboard ones (i.e. inside the coil spring and bolted to the body structure between the upper A-frame mounts) on their cars. My hunch is that someone took a set of '58 outboard shock brackets and lower control arms and installed them on Mark's '59 as part of the modification process. Detailed inspection of the car should yield clues about this.

5. In comparison to similar cars, lack of power steering and power brakes on a car optioned with a 430, heater, radio, backup lights and leather interior seems rather odd to me. Inspection of mounting points for the steering ram, the brake pedal and ventilation port for the underdash booster may yield some hints as to previous installation of these items. I suspect that the steering linkage and brake booster were removed, and that wiring probably got hacked up, at the time the transmission was changed out in order to get the clutch linkage in.

In short, spending time with this car on a lift may yield some additional information that can put some of these questions to rest.
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2011, 01:57 PM
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Default A '59 Mystery Tbird Set Up For Racing...

Alan, thanks for taking the time to comment on this. This story gets stranger still. If Ford had a truck deliver 6 "damaged" Tbirds to Burdicks for "scrapping", why would they buy a H&M Tbird? I know, from reading the reports, that Burdicks did not have the capitol to work with, as H&M apparently did, and that they made little money in their racing efforts back then. Maybe it was because H&M had cars already set up for racing and Burdick didn't and Roy wanted to get into the Daytona 500 run.

Thanks for your comments regarding how H&M gained their Tbirds and running gear from Ford and why. I was aware of the AMA ban regarding racing, but I had thought it had been lifted by 1959. Perhaps not. Maybe the story about how Burdick got 6 Tbirds is not to far off the mark. Not that they actually fell down an elevator shaft, perhaps, but they were damaged enough to keep them off the line. Perhaps Burdick or someone in Omaha had a connection to the Ford plant also.

According to Playland Speedway, the Burdick Tbird in the '59 Daytona 500 was a H&M Tbird. Not one that they put together themselves. So the good doctor had it right when he said he built his replica Tbird after the H&M Tbird. Also, this article bears out that it was Petty's sister who was the lap judge and declared that he was not a lap behind as was thought. So she was involved in the decision to give the race to Lee Petty instead of Beauchamp.. Here is the link.
http://www.playlandspeedway.com/burdicks.html

Thanks again for replying, Alan. Hopefully, later this Spring, when the weather clears up, Mark can get it up on a lift and ya'll can go over her.
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2011, 02:19 PM
Alan H. Tast, AIA Alan H. Tast, AIA is offline
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My suspicion is that someone merged the story of how H-M got their bodies with the Burdick story. Knowing that the Burdicks got their car from H-M, I suspect that somehow in the story-telling chain of events the information on how H-M got the bodies and the subsequent sale to Burdick resulted in such a recollection. Don't forget that this all happened in 1959, and with the passing of 8 years a lot of facts can get convoluted by the time this car was sold, not to mention the passing of another 43+ years since then.
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2011, 06:40 PM
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My car has 4:10 gears in the back with a C6 trans, and the the speedo reads 60mph when I'm actually going 35mph.

A little reducer box will be installed this summer to correct that.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2011, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota Boy View Post
My car has 4:10 gears in the back with a C6 trans, and the the speedo reads 60mph when I'm actually going 35mph.

A little reducer box will be installed this summer to correct that.
Hmm, so at about 70mph you're probably doing about 3,800rpm or so - and your top speed will only be about 110 maximum.

Whatever the revs are, they're going to be a fair bit higher the is good for fuel economy - and motor longevity.
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