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Jeremy Bednarsh Thunderbird

The 2001 Thunderbird

This November, RM shall be auctioning up an impressive 132 cars up for auction in Dallas, owned by Texas Ford dealer and car collector Sam Pack.  The astounding size of this auction gives you just a clue as to the size of Pack’s collection, which totalled 437 cars as of last count.  Over the years, Pack has picked up a number of Ford and Lincoln concept cars.  One of the most important and iconic models that will be up for auction in a few weeks is the 2001 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster Concept.  This car, conceived at a time when Ford was looking back through its history for inspiration, drew inspiration from the first-generation Thunderbird that debuted in 1955 and remained in production until 1957.  The debut of the 2001 concept took place in the middle of a massive “retro” craze among domestic and foreign carmakers, and the concept was well-received at the Detroit Auto Show.  That same year, production versions began to roll off the assembly line.

While the 2001 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster might look like a production car to the casual observer, it is in fact a hand-assembled car that differs from the production version of the Thunderbird in many details, both on the surface and underneath.  The most obvious difference is the presence of a molded fiberglass tonneau that gently sweeps to the seats, which themselves lack headrests.  In addition, the seats feature a different, slightly more elegant, design, and the dashboard contains certain elements absent on the production version.  Much like numerous other concept cars in Pack’s collection, this one is a runner, equipped with a 3.9-liter V8 engine rated at 280 hp.  The 2001 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster Concept features an automatic transmission and a four-wheel independent suspension, complete with all-around disc brakes.  The wheelbase of the concept is 107.2 inches, the same as the production car’s.

While this car could probably be driven on the road without being recognized as a concept or a pre-production car, this might not be a good idea: the car will be offered with a bill of sale, and lacks DOT and EPA certification.  RM estimates that this car will bring between $60,000 and $80,000 on auction day.  The fact that this concept led to a production car can’t be overlooked either, since a running concept of a relatively recent car getting a second life in the car collector market is a rare occurrence indeed.

If you’re in Dallas on November 15, it might be fun to check out the Sam Pack collection, and maybe drive off with one of the cars being auctioned there.