I spent 22 years working for Ford Motor Company in the Performance Test Unit at the Dearborn Proving Ground, doing fuel economy and performance tests on the track there, as well as the Naples, Florida test facility during the winter months.
In the 1985-86 winter season, I was fortunate to have a gorgeous 1986 T-Bird Turbo Coupe assigned to me as my personal driver while I was there, and just fell in love with the car. It was gold with dark gray accent below the trim, 10 hole wheels, with every accessory the car could be ordered with exc. a sunroof. It was an automatic, not a manual transmission, but I didn't care....it handled tremendously, rode very comfortably, got good gas mileage, and I'd decided I wanted to "tag" the car for purchase after the season.
Only one problem: the car had been fitted with an accelerometer on the hump, which had been screwed into the floor pan, rendering the chassis "altered" under Government regs, and could not be sold. That broke my heart. I'd been assigned this car with just 17 miles on it, and I'd put over 8000 miles on it that winter...this car wasn't even broken in! When I learned it was destined to go to the crusher, well....that was something I still don't like to think about.
When I got back to Detroit, I priced one via A-Plan, but it was financially out of reach. Seeing I was paying nearly $700/month child support, my daughter came first- and the T-Bird became a distant memory, a car I'd wished I could have had, that just wasn't to be.
Years later, after a couple of hot rods/classics, I started thinking about whether I could actually find one that had low miles on it, and was in good enough shape where I could restore it without going to the poor house; as kind of a tribute to that gorgeous gold T-Bird from long ago. But, where could I find it, if I could find it at all??
I'd gone to car shows, swap meets, you name it. Nothing. Not even a rumor of one could be had. Then, one day, I was cruising eBay Motors and did a search, where I came across a beautiful, strawberry red metallic '86 Turbo Coupe in Iowa, with less than 4000 original miles on it! It had been in the dealer's personal collection for ten years, untitled....after that, he sold it to another collector, from there he sold it to a vehicle wholesaler who put it on eBay Motors.
I called them and quickly made a deal for the car, and called Reliable to ship it from Iowa to my front door in Michigan. Four days later, my T-Bird rolled out of the truck and into my life, at long last!! I had one!! And, with less miles than I'd ever imagine would be on it!!
Then, reality struck like a cold slap in the face. The broker who sold the car to me had misrepresented it, pushing the "3800 original mile" car very hard, insinuating it would be in the condition one would imagine a 3800 mile original car (from Iowa) to be in.
It wasn't even close.
Seems the car had been, shall we say, a bit neglected? It had sat outside during at least one winter, and at least one hail storm....there was surface rust popping thru the paint on the left front and right rear fender lips, and the car had - get this - FORTY SEVEN HAIL DENTS on the hood, roof, and trunk lid!! Fortunately, all of the glass was intact and in great shape, and the chassis/undercarriage of the car was like new. There was no doubt as to the validity of the odometer after that; but the couple of years left sitting outside didn't do it any good at all.
So, I made the decision; since I'd obviously overpaid for the car, the only thing to do was to finish the car's exterior and make it look every bit as good as the rest of it.
I contacted a local shop a few miles away that was well known for high-quality body and paint work, made a deal to turn my Fabulous Thunderbird over to them for the makeover she deserved....and went into the hospital for surgery, where I was going to be laid up for over a month and wouldn't be able to even drive the car, let alone do anything to it but stare at it..............
Six weeks later, I was up and around again, and the car was ready! My Fabulous Thunderbird would be coming home, at long last, and would finally fill that void I'd had since 1986, when I lost the one I had down in Florida!
I walked in the door, and the shop owner led me to where she was sitting- out in the sun, gleaming nose to tail, that incredible strawberry red paint shining like a ruby in a crown....WOW, it was everything I'd hoped it would be....and more.
That was just a year ago this month, when I first got her home....and this April it will be one year since my cancer surgery (successful!) took place, and on May 18th I'll celebrate the date Ms. Fabulous Thunderbird became the gorgeous, iconic ride I'd dreamed of owning for 28 years!
I can't tell you how many people have looked this beautiful car over and cannot believe the mileage, let alone the color, condition, and story of how I acquired her.
Oh - just so you know - she IS NOT for sale, at any price!