Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thunderbird Club Of America - Revisited

After publishing the photos of two (2) Thunderbird Club grille-badges in the December 2007 issue of BIRD-NEWS, I received a few responses from CTCI members from across the country. None, however, provided a convincing link to the origins and history of this particular organization. So, my research (search) continued - an effort that closely resembled an "archaeological dig" - and finally led to what I consider to be the definitive answer to my quest.
The Program Book for the 7th CTCI International Convention, "Dearborn Once More in '74" revealed the story on the formation of TCOA in June of 1956! As noted in the account, the TCOA group in Pasadena, CA became Chapter 2 of the organization that was headquartered in Dearborn, MI. Incidentally, some CTCI members did refer to Dearborn as the possible locale for the TCOA. Evidence supporting the 1974 account exists, due to the fact that I received the two (similar) badges from a California T-Bird owner - some 35 years ago! So, at long last, I consider the mystery as solved - CASE CLOSED. -- Editor


On June 1, 1956, eight Thunderbird car owners met In the Green Room of the Pasadena Athletic Club to form a car club. With Hal Edmonds as President and Ray Davis as Vice-President, they obtained the 2nd Chapter of the Thunderbird Club of America from the club national headquarters In Dearborn, Michigan (the Dearborn Chapter was No. 1). Shortly afterward, we were incorporated In the State of California as "Thunderbird Club of America, Southern California Chapter," a name we still officially carry.

Our first of many car rallies was held on June 21, 1956, and ended at the Palm Springs Tennis Club with a police escort. Our first annual Economy Run was held over Memorial Day weekend in 1957. That run took us to the Ford Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, and was so popular that it was repeated in 1963. On many of these events, Bird owners from the local T-Bird clubs, the Bay Area clubs and CTCI members have been invited to participate. We have been to Monterey, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield, Fresno, Las Vegas, San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico.

After the trip to Estes Park, Colorado, in June 1965 by some of our members, we applied for and were granted Chapter No. 15 of CTCI. After six months of operation, our TCOA Chapter has a membership of 37 cars, and at the end of the first year a membership of 70 cars. (We count the car as representing a membership - 1 car, 1 vote.)

When a group gets too large, It is difficult to please all, so we have had occasions when a small group became unhappy and broke off into a "splinter group." We have managed to survive these breakoffs and continue to operate at TCOA. We are, however, trying to keep our membership of a size that will permit us to become more than 'mere acquaintances' (there are 9 of our present membership that have been TCOA members for 10 or more years.)

Because TCOA was formed when our cars were new and there was no procurement or repair problems, our purpose was directed more toward the enjoyment of our Thunderbirds through social activities and recreation. However, as time goes on, their preservation and care has been stressed more and more. We have made many good and lasting friendships over the years, and as time goes on, hope to make more.

Thunderbird ownership is more than owning a car!

Martha Nicoll
Advisor Counsel
R. L. Bledsoe

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