Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Sound Investment Here


American collector-car enthusiasts coming of age in the last 30-40 years view the '57 Thunderbird as a star among collector cars. This is in no small part due to the sheer number of times these iconic machines have appeared on TV and the silver screen.

The International Movie Cars Database lists more than two dozen visual references to the '57. That number nearly quadruples if you count the '55-'56 edition. (One of which was, of course, the '56 T-Bird that a sultry Suzanne Somers drove Richard Dreyfuss's character nuts with in American Grqffiti). The most exposed '57 might be the car that Robert Urich drove as private investigator Dan Tanna in TVs Vega$.

So what does this have to do with the value of one of the most recognizable of Dearborn's products? Hard to say, but the staying power of the T-Bird in pop culture probably had some influence on the steady rise we've seen from a low of about $7,500 for a scruffy driver when Vega$ aired its second season in 1979 to a high in the neighborhood of $75,000 today.
Three decades ago, a "national 1st place" winning '57 "E" "Bird with two four barrels and a 271hp 312 was advertised in Hemmings for $25,000. At Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2009, an E 'Bird, restored to "Minter-quality standards" (a reference to the Thunderbird specialist-house Amos Minter's Thunderbirds in North Dallas, Texas) and equipped with the desirable three-speed manual with overdrive, sold for $128,700.

Those of us here who cover auctions tend to think of "baby 'Birds" as being sleepy in terms of value because there are invariably a few examples at every auction trading hands in the $30,000-145,000 range. In recent years, they just haven't been at the center of a Hemi or Ferrari type of craze that sent their values skyrocketing, so we tend to overlook them.

But there has been noticeable and reliable appreciation. For instance, in 1999 sellers were advertising T-Birds in Hemmings for as low as $8,500 and as high as $47,500. Popular price guides at the time put the '57 at a low of $16,800 to a high of $35,100. Today, the low end for cars sold nationally begins north of $25,000 and runs as high as $75,000. Consumer price guides list the car more conservatively at $22,600 to $56,600. And we have seen serviceable examples being sold in smaller, local and regional classified publications in the $20,000 range.

The low price of a project car can be attractive, given the volume of repair parts available and the network of experts and enthusiasts. But a front fender can cost as much as $4,500 and isn't a bolt-on replacement due to the T-Bird's unitized construction. The rocker panels, rocker supports, front floor pans and front air ducts were prone to rust, and repair panels are available. But shoppers cruising for lower priced T-Birds might find cars that have already been repaired, albeit less than professionally.

Perhaps if s a no-brainer, but we're putting the Thunderbird on the buy list. Prices aren't going down, and we're thinking it's just a matter of time before someone makes Vega$ the movie...
* Thanks to Pete Ekstrom of submitting this article from Hemmings Motor News- October, 2009

Annual Fall Tour- 2009

ANNUAL CTCC FALL TOUR ~ October 2-4, 2009

OUR EXCURSION STARTED AT the McDonald's at Rte. 53 and Rte. 56; we received our packets and took off in the rain (what else?). We were 11 Little 'Birds, two new 'Birds and Larry's Honda. We traveled to Dixon, IL to visit the John Deere historical site; it was here that John moved to from Vermont and built his blacksmith shop. In
1837 John invented the self-cleaning, stainless steel plow, which revolutionized farming in the mid-west. A replica of the John Deere blacksmith shop was built on the site. It was here that we saw a demonstration of making a leaf from a square metal rod. We then toured the house where John, his wife and nine children had lived.
phot0: Cars parked in circular drive at Quarters 1

As the John Deere story continued in Moline, so did we; but first we had our tradition to fulfill - lunch at Culver's. Our next destination was the Deere-Wiman house. This house was built for John's youngest child, Charles. He was the only child to live to adulthood and he eventually took over the company. He had two daughters and the Deere family name ended with him. Anna married Charles Wiman and they resided in this house, raising two sons. This house had some really neat bathrooms. One had a rain shower and body sprays (just like they make now), only this was built in the late 1800's and the pipes showed. After touring this house, we went across the street to tour the Butterworth Center, which is the home of William and Katherine (Charles1 second daughter). The highlight of this house was the ceiling of the library. The room was built for the painting, which was 20' x 40' and had been painted in Venice in the 1700's.

It was now time to head to the Comfort Inn; after getting settled in, we all headed to the Hospitality Room for refreshments supplied by the members, socialization, a beautiful necklace for each lady made by Annie, and of course, pizza!! It's another CTCC tradition.

Saturday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast - with more socializing, especially we girls. Meanwhile, the guys were busy wiping down the rain-soaked 'Birds; then they opened the T-Bird hoods as members gathered to admire the engine compartments.

At 10 a.m. we were off to the Bishop Hill Historical Site and village. Our first stop was at the historic site, where we watched a movie and viewed a painting by Olof Krans, which depicts the formation and life in the settlement. We then went into the village and we were on our own until 2:30 when we headed back to the motel. We had plenty of time to explore, shop and eat. Those of us who had lunch at the Red Oak, per Ken's suggestion, had a real treat - the chicken and biscuit was to die for; but there were raves about the meatballs. too. The pies were not to be overlooked, nor was the lingonbenry tea.

We headed out to Arsenal Island, which is the largest island on the Mississippi River, and is an active military base. Our destination was the Quarter 1 building; it was the home of the commanding officer from 1870-2007. It s the second largest federal-owned house; only the White House is larger. We could roam this beautiful old house as we pleased. It is here that we had a wonderful prime rib and chicken buffet dinner. Our evening ended with more camaraderie, but with a twist. All the guys were together around one group of tables, and the girls at another. It was soooo loud, the girls departed to a meeting room, so we could talk!

Sunday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we began to pack up. We had one last stop in Utica at the Illinois River Winery. We had a guided tour through the winery as we learned about the wine-producing process. It was then on to the tasting room; many of us found a favorite or two to buy. We then said our goodbyes.

Those who participated in this great get-away were: Joel Greenberg and Annie Luginbill, Bob and Helen Hoge, Larry Johnson and Sue Hommedieu, Larry and Karen Kelly, Joe and Sandra Kraatz, Peter and Marylu Kramer, Ed Levin and Rose Kovelenko, Dan Mrozek and Judy Butler, Ron Pavlak, Jerry and Pat Peterson, Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Len and Irene Vinyard and Bill and Liz Werth.

Last, but not least, a very big thank you to Joel and Annie for all their hard work to make this Fall Tour so great!
- Pat and Jerry Peterson

Art Hascek (1916-2009)

Art Hascek
April 12, 1916-October 16, 2OO9

It is with regret and a deep sense of personal loss that we report the passing of long-time CTCC member, Art Hascek.
Art and Gail attended their first Club meeting in October, 1972 and joined CTCC in November, as proud owners of a Red 1957 Thunderbird! Art maintained his interest in the T-Bird and CTCC meetings, events and Shows, eventually launching a restoration project on his beloved 'Bird. After a long period of delays and disappointments with an unscrupulous restoration shop, the '57 was rescued from near disaster. The long trail of tribulations finally ended when the gleaming Thunderbird captured a First Place Trophy at an All Thunderbird Car Show in 2008 (see adjoining photo).
Art was indeed a very special person, as anyone who had the privilege of knowing him can attest.
Art was a WWII Navy veteran, and it was not until quite recently that I discovered that we had both attended the Farragut Naval Training Station located in Farragut, Idaho. I found the Military Burial Service for Art to be a fitting tribute. The TAPS item and photo (above) are from the Farragut Newsletter — September, 2004.
The Officers and Membership of the ClassicThunderbird Club of Chicagoland extend their deepest sympathy to Gail, Laura and Mike, as we share in their loss.
- Editor