Featured Thunderbird for February 1998

Highlighted TBird

1959 Hardtop, Exterior: Sandstone, Interior: Hickory/White
Owner: Bob & Sally Harloff, Reno, NV

We moved to Reno in 1978, and were delighted to find lots of car activities happening almost all year long. The dry climate and moderate seasons are very conducive to maintaining old cars. We fell in love with Hot August Nights from its humble beginnings in the late 80's, and finally in 1991 a series of events convinced me to become a participant. I owned, maintained, modified, and raced many performance cars in the 60's, but the thought of restoring an old car was a new challenge. I spotted this 1959 Thunderbird hardtop from a distance in a small used car lot, and it was love at first sight. Even from a distance the car looked absolutely classic, epitomizing the 50's values of lots of chrome, truly unique styling, enormous weight, and no thought given to fuel economy!

The car was solid, with no rust or significant metal damage, but the interior was practically disintegrated. A near-perfect ROT sheet hidden untouched under the seat helped us research it's past. It was built at the Lincoln assembly plant on February 12, 1959. It is quite plain, with a 352 automatic, power steering and brakes, radio, heater, and continental kit. It's color is Sandstone, same color as 1959 Lincoln Burnished Gold Metallic, with hickory and white interior. I decided early on to keep the car pure stock, true to it's original beauty. After about three years it was really looking good and winning awards. To spice it up a bit we decided to collect some memorabilia and create a scene depicting a drive-in movie setting and a drive-in restaurant. This has grown over the years to a fairly complex display with old movies playing and a trunk full of 50's travel items.

We take the car to shows and other events primarily in Nevada and California almost every weekend from about March to October. It is a daily driver, with 123,462 currently on the odometer. Originally it didn't handle very well, but after adding very heavy gas shocks, radial tires, careful alignment, and some spring rebuilding it handles and rides great. We introduced our 2-1/2 year old grandson Jordan to car shows this year, and he had a great time. He loves Grampa and Grandma's "Underbird", but he really likes the cars with "fire" (flames). We hope to meet many new friends through the internet and at the 1998 car events, where "COOL59" will be helping us relive a simple, happy time in our lives and catching the eye of car lovers just like it caught mine back in 1991!

Bob Harloff

Copyright © 1998 by Bob Harloff


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