Enthusiasts dream of one day finding a rust-free body with which to start their latest project. In the case of these three vintage Fords (and only a handful of others) there was no other option, as their entire bodies were fabricated from stainless steel.
Stainless 1936 Ford
The story of how these cars came about started back in 1935, when FoMoCo collaborated with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Allegheny Ludlum Inc. in building six 1936 Ford Deluxe Sedans. The project was to highlight the durability of stainless steel in the use of automobiles and the entire body of the Fords was to be comprised of stainless steel. The fact that Allegheny Ludlum is set in the middle of the rust belt is a little more than ironic.
The cars were built at the Ford assembly plant and sent to Allegheny Ludlum so that each of its executives could drive the cars in excess of 200,000 miles. The cars were reportedly in use until 1946, by which time, their still-shimmering bodies outliving multiple engines and other non-stainless components.
One of the cars, a brushed-finish unit, was donated to the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, where it remains today. In total, only four of the original half-dozen stainless 1936 Fords are known to exist.
Ford and Allegheny Ludlum would again team up to build a duet of Thunderbirds in 1960. The company stamped out bodies, bumpers, trim and exhaust systems from T302 stainless for use in the vehicle. The cars were then sent to Budd for assembly. Unlike the earlier run of 1936 cars, Allegheny Ludlum held onto the Thunderbirds, rather than sell them off after their usefulness to the company.
1966/1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible
Shortly after producing the T-Birds, Ford and Allegheny were at it again, this time assembling the top-of-the-line model out of the super-durable substance. Three Lincoln Continental convertibles were built in 1966, with two of them eventually getting updated to 1967 trim.
The 1967 Lincoln Convertible offered for sale was the last of the stainless steel cars produced. Unlike the Thunderbirds, only the bodies of the Lincolns were comprised of stainless steel, all other parts and equipment on the car are standard for the 1967 Lincoln Convertible.
Each of the rust-free vehicles have weaved their way through history. After their time as company demonstrators, all of the 1936 Fords were sold off. The company bought back two of the super-rare cars over the years and a third was located and bought by the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Ohio. The fourth known car went up for auction at Mecum in Monterey in 2009 and eventually found its way to the Early Ford V8 Museum. Two of the six cars remain unaccounted for.
The two Thunderbirds and two of the Continentals remained in the care of Allegheny Ludlum, who eventually purchased the third Lincoln again for a complete set. The Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum eventually wound up getting both a Thunderbird and a Lincoln Continental to fill out the trifecta of stainless Fords for their display.
Allegheny Ludlum has decided to sell three of the cars remaining in their collection, the first time that a complete set of the stainless-bodied cars has come up for sale as a unit. They will be offered by Worldwide Auctions. Comprising a no-reserve sale of a 1936 Ford Deluxe Sedan, 1960 Ford Thunderbird, and 1967 Lincoln Continental Convertible, the Stainless Steel Fords will be offered as a single consignment at Worldwide’s annual Auburn Auction, held over Labor Day Weekend in Indiana on September 5th.