Featured Thunderbird for December 1996/January 1997

1963 / Exterior: Patrician Green / Interior: Principality of Monaco White / Tri-power/automatic
Owner: Tom Maruska, Duluth, MN USA

In the spring of 1991, I had a 1968 Camaro R/S in the process of restoration and I wasn't really interested in it. I had restored a 1961 T-Bird Tudor Coupe in 1989, and I really wanted to be restoring a T-Bird Convertible and not this bow tie.

I listed the Camaro for sale and one evening a couple of young men came to look at it. While they were there, they noticed my '61 Thunderbird. It was a beautiful car in Nautilus Gray Metallic with black interior, and I had wire wheels and skirts on it. It was quite impressive.

Anyway, one of these guys mentioned that he saw a junked car like my T-Bird parked out in the brush near the airport runway here in Duluth. He said he thought it was a convertible. This of course got my immediate and full attention. He said he worked for a local tree trimming service and one day while trimming brush from a power-line right of way, he noticed a car parked with brush and high grass grown up all around it.

I got directions to the location from him and drove out there one day to see it. I could barely see the car for the tall grass and brush all around it. It was Diamond Blue with Diamond Blue leather interior. The top, seats, dash and carpet were all rags. The car was parked here in 1973, Eighteen Years earlier! I tracked down the owner, (who it turned out I knew) and we cut a deal and I got the car.

My brother Ray had a 4WD Ford Van with 33" tires and we went out to tow the T-Bird out of the brush and were going to winch it onto a car trailer to bring it home. We brought air cans with us to air up the tires, but of course after 18 years, none of them held air, so we hooked a chain around the frame member under the radiator and attempted to tow it out. Even with 3 wheels on Rays Van throwing mud twenty feet into the air, the T-Bird didn't budge, as it was to the bottom of the doors in mud.

A friend offered to get it with his rollback wrecker. He was able to remove it from the muck effortlessly. He brought it to my home and unloaded it in my driveway alongside my home. All of the wheels were rusted up so badly that none of them turned. I opened the drivers door and a small snake came slithering out onto the driveway!

Later I hooked a good battery up to see what if anything still worked. To my amazement, the radio worked. The speaker was badly cracked so the sound was bad, but it worked! The driver's door window worked too, and that was all.

Well, this was only the beginning.

Thomas G. Maruska

Copyright © 1996 by Thomas Maruska


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