Thunderbird Italien Concept

by Michael Satterfield

1963 Thunderbird Italien Concept was not done by Bertone or Ghia or any other Italian design house as one might expect. Ford was working with Zagato, Ghia, and many others during the Early 60's. Instead, this very Italian looking Thunderbird fastback was done in Ford's own styling department.

The team at for built a plywood buck and used modeling clay to sculpt the new fastback roofline right onto the car. They then sent it over to Dearborn Steel Tubing Co. to take a mold and graft the fiberglass roof and trunk onto a 1963 Thunderbird, as well as finish the cars other custom touches.

Dearborn Steel Tubing was responsible for several Ford show/concept cars and even built the 100 1964 Ford Thunderbolts. Vince Gardner was head of the project, the same man that was responsible for the short wheelbase Mustang (read about that car here). The Thunderbird received several custom touches from fender vents and custom bumpers to a full leather interior.

The Italien appeared in the 1964 New York Worlds Fair's "Cavalcade of Custom Cars" and was prominently featured in a special World's Fair publication. After appearing in the World's Fair, records from Ford's Jacque Passino's files indicate the Italien was destined for a fate typical of most Ford concept cars -- The crusher. However, in September 1964, the Italien was sold or presented to actor Dale Robertson of TV's "Tales of Wells Fargo", "Wagon Train" and other shows.  The car has been sold to various collectors over the years and pops up at important Ford events from time to time.

Source: Barrett Jackson