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Customs '62 T-Bird/Info Search/Easy To Customize??

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ClayMart, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Over on the Rod & Custom website someone's posted some pics of this T-Bird with the hopes of uncovering more of the history of the car and its builder. I know nothing about it; in fact I don't think I've ever seen it before. But I'm sure there's people here that can help fill in some of the blanks.

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    But that's not the real reason why I'm posting this. And here's where I may be revealing my ignorance of custom cars. But I find this car to be absolutely stunning! To my eyes, this vintage of T-Bird can't be the easiest thing to customize as it looks to be pretty well customized as it came off the line. There was another similar post here recently about the difficulty of trying to customize '55-6-7 Nomads. If you weren't careful it would be all too easy to screw it up.

    I guess you could chop the top on one of these 'Birds and it might look OK, but the idea of grafting a Starliner roof onto it just seems perfectly brilliant to me and makes it look like a factory styling studio job.

    So what do you think? Did the guy who built this just make it a little easier on himself by taking this approach. Or was there some sort of restrained genius at work on this one?

    And what other kinds of production cars do you think are particularly challenging to customize successfully?
     
  2. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 12,553

    Squablow
    Member

    I've seen a couple of these done this way, it has a 60-61 Ford Starliner roof on it.


    A difficult swap for sure but looks so nice in place of the boxy top that they get from the factory.
     
  3. menacekustoms
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 753

    menacekustoms
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Yeah, he didn't take the easiest way out on that one. But, he did pull it off so well, it looks like he didn't do anything major, that's what I like about it. Ford should have built them that way, flows much nicer than the stock one.
     
  4. Yeah, that car is really nice. I think I saw it or a similar one with a Starliner roof at Paso Robles a few years ago. It looks like it's mostly stock otherwise, except for shaving some emblems off the rear fender. There were factory skirts available for those year T-birds too. It looks like it's at the stock ride height too. I used to have a '61 T-Bird, and that was a great cruiser. The only thing I didn't like about it was the "Cruis-o-matic" transmission which never seemed to work right even after rebuilding it.
     
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  5. I love this particular T-bird concept from Ford, but I think the Starlliner roof car is even better![​IMG][​IMG]
     
  6. Don't think I've ever seen this Ford concept T-Bird before either. Odd that it seems to be the same color as the one on the R&C site. Maybe it was the inspiration for the Starliner version. The owner stated that it was built by Cay Wilson somewhere in Ohio, but a quick Google search didn't turn up much info. Maybe he's got the name wrong or it really is a one off deal.

    About the only thing I could think to add to it was fender skirts, but I'm not sure that I really improved the looks. Seems a shame to hide the wires and whitewalls.

    [​IMG]

    Somebody here recently posted a pic of a '60 Edsel with a production Starliner roof. Woof! It didn't do nearly as much to improve the looks of the Edsel as it did the T-Bird.
     
  7. With no skirts on it gives the illusion that its been sectioned.
     
  8. Yutan Flash
    Joined: Aug 6, 2008
    Posts: 545

    Yutan Flash
    Member
    from Gretna, NE

    You just hit my hot button:D! The car with the Starliner roof and '64 T-bird seats in it was built in Utah a few years ago. The guy trying to sell it now was attempting to capitalize on the hype being built up for the "Italien" concept car (the other car pictured with the fender louvers and metal appliques on the doors) and its being auctioned at the Barrett-Jackson auction back in January '08. I received several messages from the president of Vintage Thunderbird Club International regarding it, asking me to verify the current owner's claim that it was a "pilot" car back in late January-early February '08. He claimed the car was built by Dearborn Steel Tubing, but there were too many little things about how it looked that bugged me, i.e. the '64 T-bird seats/console, '61 grille, '63 or '64 Galaxie air cleaner/engine, ad infinitum.

    At that time I heard about the car I was VERY suspicious about his story, and those suspicions were confirmed this summer after a story provided by the person selling the Starliner-roofed car was printed by Vintage Thunderbird Club International in their club publication, "Thunderbird Scoop." Mark Gustavson, an attorney from Salt Lake City who is best known for his work in Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine and is also a T-bird and custom car enthusiast who is researching the history of the Ford Custom Car Caravan of the early '60s, recognized the car as he witnessed its buildup somewhere near SLC in the early-mid 2000s. We had several exchanges on the Bulletbirds forum about it and debunked the "myth" that it was a factory prototype. This car is nothing more than a nicely-done contemporary-built customized T-bird. It's a shame that the seller feels he has to embelish a story to lure a buyer:mad:. BTW, I asked for but have never received responses from the seller regarding the car's original lineage, VIN/data plate info, etc. to help establish when it was originally built.

    The restoration of the "Italien" was extensively chronicled by Maruska in a series of articles in "Legendary Fords" magazine as well as in VTCI's "Thunderbird Scoop" during 2007-2008. It had deteriored very badly and was a real mess when it was offered for sale in Hemmings toward the end of 2005. A good friend of mine from New Jersey tried for years to buy it but couldn't convince the owner, Don Chambers, to sell it - his diagnosis with terminal cancer changed that attitude. Maruska bought the car, spent most of 2007 restoring it ,and then it sold for $600K at B-J to the Blackhawk Museum in California.

    I won't go into its history here, but what may be of interest to many of you is that it the "Italien" was a Ford styling study that was built in part by DST - its original build-up was even chronicled in an issue of "Speed and Custom" (?) magazine in '63, showing how the fiberglass fastback roof was made. The "Italien" started out as a pre-production '62 convertible that was diverted to DST for the roof build and other body mods. The '63-style fenders and doors were added during the build so that the car could be displayed at '63 auto shows as part of the Ford Custom Car Caravan. The interior was oxblood red leather (including the dash cover), with engine-turned door inserts (interior and exterior), plexiglass rear and quarter windows, hand-made eggcrate grille and taillight assemblies that used the center inserts from '61-'63 T-bird steering wheels.

    There are several examples of '61-'63 T-birds that have had Starliner roofs grafted onto them, including a blue one that has been at Goodguys events in the northwest (which I think is a better-looking build than the red one from Utah because they were able to adapt the Starliner's rear windshield instead of the more-bulbous work done on the Utah car - note how the corners of the rear windshield don't go to the edge of the roof). Finding a Starliner roof is tough to begin with, but obviously it can be made to work.

    For the past few years there have been articles pointing out how relatively cheap '61-'63 T-birds are compared to other cars of the late '50s-early '60s, making them "ripe for the picking" for customizing. I won't go that route with my '63 hardtop (other than installing a factory tripower), but there are project cars out there that need floors, quarter panel/rocker repair, etc. Complications with the 'Birds of the era include their unibody construction, all the curved tempered glass, tall transmission tunnel, large spring/shock towers in the engine bay, and their weight (over 4200 lbs). But with bucket seats factory-installed, that full-length console and coved dash, they were a stylists' dream come true.

    BTW, didn't the '61 T-bird that Darrel Starbird built when they were new have a plexiglass bubble roof?

    Alan H. Tast, AIA
    Past President, Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
    Past Editor, "Thunderbird Scoop" magazine (1987-1996)
    Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
     
  9. eric
    Joined: Jun 4, 2001
    Posts: 1,653

    eric
    Member

    that tbird has a starliner roof but that's not a starliner rear window. It kind of has the shape of the box top galaxies '60-'63?
     
  10. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,758

    Rikster
    Member

    No additional info in the red car.. I do like it better than the previously mentioned Blue one. I like the fact that they shortened the Starliner top on the red one so that its now much better in balance with the body.
    Fender skirts on it would work, but then the whole car would need to be lowered. And by doing so the whole style would be totally different.

    [​IMG]


    The blue one is very nicely done especially viewed from the front and front 3/4

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    But when viewed from the side I feel the top is way to long...

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    The red one is much better in balance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2008
  11. Could someone photoshop the top a little shorter?

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  12. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,758

    Rikster
    Member

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2008
  13. Tastefully done there, Rikster- I like it!
     
  14. The red car is beautiful. Why didn´t they build them like that!
     
  15. PhatCaddy
    Joined: May 31, 2005
    Posts: 1,453

    PhatCaddy
    Member

    I saw the Italien at Blackhawk, very beautiful in person.

    brian
     
  16. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,138

    Malcolm
    Member
    from Nebraska

    The "Toast" 'bird is cool, too....

    [​IMG]

    Happens to be for sale in the Classifieds, too...

    Malcolm
     
  17. Jobe
    Joined: Oct 19, 2004
    Posts: 1,249

    Jobe
    Member
    from Austin, Tx

    That is a sweet 62 with the starliner roof...would look better with the factory skirts on it though, not digging that big rear wheel opening. Looks like the fronts are flared a little more than stock as well?
     
  18. Where are the pics of D'Agostinos "Firestar" Bulletbird? That's another Beauty.....Centurion9
     
  19. Rikster
    Joined: Dec 10, 2004
    Posts: 5,758

    Rikster
    Member

    Here is one...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. [​IMG]

    That is one gorgeous bulletbird, much better than the blue one.
     
  21. I wonder if the lines would flow better using the rear wheel opening/skirt shape from a starliner- the roofline flows right down to the backend of the opening.
     
  22. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,138

    Malcolm
    Member
    from Nebraska


    Funny, I have a picture of that car parked in the same spot at that same show. KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular - July 30th, 2005
    [​IMG]
     
  23. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,733

    50Fraud
    Member

    I've seen the blue one several times, and I think it's great looking in spite of the slightly strange proportion of the top to the body.

    The red one is completely new to me. Pretty neat! And I like it without the skirts.

    ...and both of them, for my money, show that Ford should have considered a roof of that shape for the cars originally.
     
  24. Janne
    Joined: Jan 12, 2004
    Posts: 1,174

    Janne
    Member

    Here is my try:
     

    Attached Files:

  25. [​IMG].....They don't get much better than this one.....Centurion9
     
  26. Yutan Flash
    Joined: Aug 6, 2008
    Posts: 545

    Yutan Flash
    Member
    from Gretna, NE

    I should've recognized this one! It was at World of Wheels in KC a few years ago. Guy in Belton, MO bought it for his collection. The '58 Watson T-bird was also purchased by him as well in '05-'06.
     

    Attached Files:

  27. davidvillajr
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 488

    davidvillajr
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    There's one is in the newest Traditional Rod & Kulture Illustrated. Issue #15. Fall 2008.

    Oz's Bird.

    VERY NICELY DONE.

    dv
     
  28. zombie
    Joined: Jun 19, 2001
    Posts: 681

    zombie
    Member

    oz's bird is pretty sweet....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  29. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 12,553

    Squablow
    Member

    I couldn't get this out of my head, so I had to see what it would look like.

    If a '61 Starliner roof looks so good on a '61 T-bird, then why not a '58 Fairlane roof on a '58 T-bird?

    [​IMG]

    I like it. If I ever ran across the right T-bird (and a ton of free time) I might have to try this.
     
  30. I just saw Oz's car in the magazine.....Beautifully done Sir! What's not to like about these cars? I think they're one of the top 5 Designs ever...Mild, Wild or Stock, the Bullet Birds Rock! Thanks for all the contributions guys.....Centurion9
     

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