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What’'s the Word? Thunderbird!

Year: 1958
Make: Ford
Model: Thunderbird
Color: Raven Black

Mike Schmidt from Miamisburg, Ohio, sent us this great story about his 1958 T-Bird.

“I was at a car show in 2000 when I saw my future Thunderbird with a for sale sign in the window. The owner wanted 15K for it and I said, “I’ll give you 10K cash right now and I’ll buy it.
He thought I was kidding and I said give me an hour; I gotta go to the bank. He laughed and said, “there ain’t a bank open at 5 o’clock on a Sunday.” I told him my bank is, and I drove 9 miles to my Dad’s house, and ran the whole story by him, and told him I’d pay him back Monday. After a few “bleep” words, and a you’re not SERIOUS? He went upstairs to his trusted “bank”--the floor register duct work--got the money, grabbed his Fedora hat and said, “Let’s go.”

We got back to the car show, and my Dad asked a million questions, walked around it 40-50 times, started it, crawled under it, popped up the hood, and said, “My son will take it,” and then counted out 10K to the seller. It’s funny ‘cause he drove it home, and I followed him in my car, and at 80 years old, he opened that 352 up and shot down the road like Mark Martin at Daytona. When we got to the house, we took it out and he told me a story I never knew until I was 44 years old, and it went like this: “Son, I brought you home from the hospital in 1958 in one of these; it was baby blue with a white top. I lied to your mother when I bought it, told her I paid $1700 when I really paid $2200.” I laughed at the price, and he said to me, “Don’t laugh, that was one year’s salary. Your birth cost me $6.00 so the Bird was a better deal! He laughed and told me his had a 352 interceptor just like this one. My Dad passed away in 2005, but each time I ride I can look over and see him telling me to “step into that 4 barrel son,” just as he did each time we took it out.

What work have you done on your car?
I rebuilt the motor, shaved the door handles, added drag pipes on side, chromed most of the motor, added a bigger cam. The skirts are shaved from a 55 Merc. Also, you can see no door handles. Dad rigged up an electric opener in the fake spot lights, push the button and the door opens; not bad for a guy in his 80’s.

What did you get from MAC’s?
I bought too many items to list everything I got from MAC’s. The floor mats, wiper motors and speedometer cable are some of the items. MAC’s is always one click away on my computer.

Do you own any other classic cars?
1973 Country Squire Station wagon; with 6 kids Mom always had one, a 1960 T-bird , all original; and a 1982 Riviera convertible.

We love the story of your Dad, do you have any other memories from him?
Dad used to say that Ford messed up the T-bird back in 1958 when they went and put a back seat in it, and yet it was car of the year, and Ford sold more cars than the big 3 that year. His first car was a Model A Ford. He left the doors open one night and his Dad’s goat ate the seats! I asked him what happened to the goat? “Dinner,” he said, “things were tough in the late 30's. “Dad helped me with my car and he passed away in 2005, but he’s in the Ohio Military Hall of Fame, 2007 Lt. Ray Schmitt.
Dad was battlefield commissioned by Patton when Patton liberated the “battling bastards of Bastogne." I asked him why he was commissioned, and he said, “Hell, I was the only one left in my company.” I sure do miss “Give ‘em hell Smitty," my Dad.