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Three show 'Birds of a feather sell together at RM's Sam Pack sale for $242k

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On: Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 10:08AM | By: Andrew W Davis


Three show 'Birds of a feather sell together at RM's Sam Pack sale for $242k

Every car company that can is making serious hay out of every anniversary they can find. Problem is, in a lot of cases, there have to be some asterisks slipped in due to, say, Chevy never producing a 1983 model Corvette, yet claiming an unbroken chain of manufacture since its introduction in 1953.

When it comes to Ford’s Thunderbird, however, there’s more than one year’s worth of gap. In fact, after the tenth-gen ‘Bird was killed in 1997, it took until 2002 to revive the name. Luckily, when they introduced that retro-revival Thunderbird model they chose to copy every styling cue they could from the original 1955-’57 T-Bird—sans, fortunately, the Continental kit—while still creating a new and exciting shape.

But what took half a century to build was undone in only three, just in time to euthanize the nameplate on its 50th anniversary despite several intriguing improvements making their way into the public eye in the form of “concept cars”. These included a “Sports Roadster” two-seater (first appearing in 1962), a supercharged model (like in 1957) and the semi-new idea of creating a Lincoln version of the T-Bird that actually had “Lincoln” written on it.

Normally such vehicles would be sucked into either the manufacturer’s collection or their “recycling” furnace, but in the case of these three special T-Birds they not only survived, but made it into “public” hands. And thanks to RM Auctions, they just did again.

Ford dealer Sam Pack amassed a collection that would make any petrolhead proud, with no fewer than 473 vehicles of many stripes, though, as you’d imagine, mostly of the Blue Oval variety. But for whatever reason, the 77-year-old Pack decided to part with 131 of his prized possessions—all of which you can see here—through RM Auction’s aptly-named Sam Pack Collection sale, held Nov. 14-15.

[Anoraks among you would be pleased to know he started this collection when he was 65, meaning for the 12 years he acquired cars he averaged 39 per year. That’s a hell of a retirement plan…]

All cars were sold on a “No Reserve” basis, meaning the top bid took the car, regardless of amount. But with a reported sales total of $11,543,400—vs. his own expectations of around $9M—he needn't have worried about having enough takers.

Among the blizzard of lots on auction were three former show cars that caught my eye mostly because I saw them “live” when they were first introduced at various auto shows by Ford as The Next Big Concept. And as I said before, “concept” vehicles have a VERY short shelf-life, which, in conjunction with the liability that comes with putting uncertified cars in “public” hands, means the show-stopper of today is the recycled seat foam of tomorrow.

[By the way, though their auction descriptions feature the disclaimer “This vehicle will run and drive but is not DOT or EPA certified. It cannot be registered for highway use in the United States and is offered on a Bill of Sale only”, all three cars nonetheless have standard production-style VINs (referred to as “chassis numbers” in the listings), so you may—I repeat may—be able to get your state to put plates on them anyway. VINDecoder.net gives “invalid check digit” on the listed VINs except the supercharged ‘Bird, so maybe your DMV won’t investigate further if you can get around the “Bill of Sale” thing. But you didn’t hear that from me.]

So here are two one-of-a-kind, running-and-driving show cars from a major manufacturer that will blow the doors off anything you might be up against at most Thunderbird shows, plus a T-Bird-based Lincoln concept that could put just about any ‘Bird—or Lincoln—to shame, each for a semi-reasonable price.

After all, how many gazillions did FoMoCo spend building these things in the first place? At least $250k a pop, and that would’ve bought you all three

[Auction descriptions courtesy RM Auctions. Photo Credits: Teddy Pieper ©2014 Courtesy of RM Auctions]

Lot 181: “2001 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster Concept” [$55,000]
“Ford’s designers recalled the Thunderbird Sports Roadsters of the early 1960s when they created a modern interpretation of the vehicle as a concept at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in the Blue Oval’s hometown of Detroit. Just like the original “Bullet Birds,” this Thunderbird also boasts a molded fiberglass tonneau that integrates the rear deck with the headrests, giving the car its signature look.

“The chrome-finished, egg-crate-designed grille also recalls T-Birds of the past, as do the wheels, which, at 18 inches in diameter, are both modern in size and classic in design. It is finished in a very eye-catching color combination of red over a white “ceramic” leather interior, and the instrument panel, pillars, scuff plates ,and interior door trim panels are all wrapped in the same leather and feature unique stitching by Draxlmaier. Also featured in ceramic white is the three-spoke steering wheel, shift knob, hand brake, and arm rest. In contrast to the miles of white leather, the instrument panel and door panels are finished in elegant brushed aluminum and feature aluminum-finished buttons.

“This Sports Roadster Concept was purchased by Mr. Pack from Ford in 2010 as a compelling, modern addition to his growing collection of classic Thunderbirds. It is a unique interpretation of a modern classic that beautifully molds together 1960s and 21st century styling cues. When seen sitting alongside a third-generation Thunderbird Sports Roadster, the family resemblance is truly uncanny.”

Lot 179: “2003 Ford Thunderbird Supercharged Concept” [$57,750]
[Premiered at the 2003 Los Angeles Auto Show] “To gauge public interest for a higher-performance Thunderbird like the “F-Bird” of 1957, Ford introduced the Supercharged Thunderbird Concept to the public at the 2003 Los Angeles Auto Show. In this concept, Ford engineers installed a Roots-type supercharger with all-new aluminum headers on the Thunderbird’s existing 3.9-liter V-8. Cosmetically, nearly every body panel on this Thunderbird was slightly revised to create a more aggressive look. As such, the hood, front fenders, and both bumpers are unique to this car. Furthermore, the suspension was lowered by an inch and dual exhausts were fitted at the rear and neatly integrated with the license plate frame for a smooth appearance.

“This Supercharged Thunderbird Concept, which is finished in Machine Silver and has an all-leather chamois-tinted interior that is trimmed with polished and brushed chrome, was purchased by Sam Pack in 2010 from Ford. Even though a modern supercharged Thunderbird never made its way to production, this automobile stands as a compelling example of where Ford’s stylists would have started in designing such a vehicle.”

Lot 182: “2004 Lincoln Mark X Concept” [$129,250]
[Premiered at the 2004 New York Auto Show] “Throughout history, Lincoln has used the Mark name to signal a truly special vehicle. From the 1956 Continental Mark II through to the ’90s, each quickly became a classic with known quality, clean styling, and consistent good taste. The Mark X concept was designed to demonstrate the potential of the Lincoln brand by stretching its DNA to a sophisticated roadster. As stated by Chief Designer Marek Reichman, ‘The focus with Mark X is on pure, integrated design…Our holistic exterior and interior design approach instantly shows its rewards, competing against the best personal luxury convertibles in the world.’

“Design emphasis was placed on integrating the functional aspects of the car, from the sweeping grille to the innovative door handles to the sloped rear fascia. The result is an uncluttered exterior, where essential details, such as the delicate contrast of Atlantic Pearl paint, chrome accents, and well-placed Lincoln emblems, are subtle, yet they drape the vehicle in elegance. The flawlessly crafted and tailored soft leather Lime Sorbet interior is complemented with Corian, aluminum, and chrome accents. The doors open, the lights function, and the panoramic glass roof retracts via key fob. This one-of-a-kind Mark X is bold and attractive more than a decade later.”

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