Nov 02, 2023

Classic Thunderbirds are cruising into America On Wheels for new exhibit

Morning Call file photo

1956 Ford Thunderbird

Morning Call file photo

1956 Ford Thunderbird

Morning Call file photo

1956 Ford Thunderbird

America On Wheels Museum is shifting gears for its newest exhibit, and this one should hit just the right notes with Baby Boomers and Beach Boys fans — as well as anyone who loves vintage vehicles.

A flock of classic Ford Thunderbirds will be nesting Thursday, Nov. 21 to April 2020. The show is called "Feel the Thunder," and is sponsored by Race Ramps LLC of Michigan.

"I had the pleasure of speaking with a member of the Thunderbird Club who shared an interest in showcasing Thunderbirds, and the idea for the Feel the Thunder exhibit was born." explained to Executive Director Linda Merkel in a news release. "As the song says, ‘We’ll have fun, fun, fun’ with the exhibit over the long, cold winter!"

The exhibit will showcase iconic two-seaters from 1955 through 1957, a 2002 Retro-Bird and four-seater personal luxury models from 1958 through 1966.

The vintage collection will display the distinctive visual history of the various design changes Thunderbird has undergone throughout the years, according to exhibit chair, Alan Gross.

The "Feel the Thunder" exhibit will be in The Changing Gallery on the second floor of the museum and will feature:

1955 black body with a white vinyl convertible top, which underwent a frame-off restoration in 2012. It has won multiple awards including Best in Show. Owned by Lisa Ruth of Nazareth.

1956 T-bird formerly used as a Ford executive car by Chase Morsey, Jr., who was creator of the slogan, "Ford has a better idea." Currently owned by Walter J. Fries, Jr. of Nazareth.

1956 fiesta red luxury cruiser, powered by the 202 HP 312 T-Bird engine. Includes automatic transmission, power steering and power brakes, two-tone interior and wide wheels. Owned by Dan and Anna Mohry of Bethlehem.

1957 D Code 245 cu. in. 245 hp with power steering, power brakes and two tops. Restored in 2000, it's a flame red winner of the CTCI Senior Award and Excellence in Authenticity AACA Grand National Senior. Owned by John L. Young of Ellicott City, Maryland.

1961 third generation Thunderbird, redesigned that year — giving it a new "bullet" design and dubbed the "Bullet-Bird." This was the first year for standard equipment including backup lights, power steering and brakes and Cruise-O-Matic transmission. There were 10,516 T-Bird convertibles manufactured, all fitted with a standard 390 cu. in. HP motor and four-barrel carburetor. Vehicle owned by Ron Leibowitz of Alburtis.

1960 white/red hardtop. AACA Thunderbird Award winner in 2012. 1960 was a record year for the Thunderbird; 92,843 were sold. This car was an AACA Grand National Senior. Owned by Tom Young of Baltimore.

1966 convertible in vintage burgundy with a black top. Owned by Mr. Martin W. Breidenthall of Orefield.

2002 torch red convertible used by Pennsylvania Travel guide on its magazine cover while under previous ownership. Currently owned by Thomas and Claudia Hollenbach of Allentown.

Giant pedal car for kids: Moving in at the same time as the "Feel the Thunder" exhibit will be a special holiday attraction. Murray General, a 1951 (giant sized) Pedal Car owned by Dan Hryhorcoff, will be on display. The pedal car was recently on display at Wheels of Time.

Hours and admission:

Children 12 and under are FREE every weekend year-round.

Morning Call Arts & Entertainment Editor Craig Larimer can be reached at 610-310-6928 or at [email protected]

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