As part of their annual ICONS & IDOLS: HOLLYWOOD event, Julien’s Auctions will be selling the Ford Thunderbird that was owned by Marilyn Monroe. Estimated to fetch between $300,000-500,000, the 225 horsepower, V-8 engine car that Monroe owned from 1955 to 1962, will head to auction for the first time on 17 November 2018.
Purchased under the name of Marilyn Monroe’s corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions, the Raven Black Ford Thunderbird was thought to be a Christmas gift from the star’s business partner and photographer, Milton Greene. With reports stating that Monroe and Arthur Miller drove it to their civil wedding ceremony on 28 June 1956, the vehicle promises to be an iconic tribute to Marilyn’s memory.
Amy Greene, Milton’s wife, said: ‘Marilyn liked to drive. We’d take the convertible and with the top down, we’d go sailing along the highway. We both liked to feel the wind in our faces and the warmth of the heater on our legs.’
Belonging to the world’s favourite Hollywood legend makes this car a sensational piece of memorabilia—but the vehicle also has plenty of appeal in its own right.
The Thunderbird was Ford’s ‘Personal Luxury Car’—it emphasised driver comfort and amenities as well as performance. With its detachable hardtop and its porthole windows, the stunning vehicle created a whole new niche in the American automobile market. It takes little imagination to picture Marilyn Monroe retreating into the sunset, framed by the glamorous spare wheel exterior on the rear of the car.
In the early 1950s, the focus was on two-seater sporting machines. Ford’s ‘T-Bird’ created a sensation when it appeared in 1955 as a response to the Chevrolet Corvette. Actress Jane Wyman drove her brand new Ford Thunderbird straight into the middle of a party she was giving to celebrate the event.
With a top speed of 113mph, the car was a powerful machine in its time. In more modern history, the car ‘has received a frame-off restoration to its exact original appearance by Prestige Thunderbird, Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, CA.’ said its current owner.
‘In recognition of the car’s important provenance, special heed was given to the retention of original parts, with most driver and passenger touch surfaces left undisturbed.’
Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, power windows and power seats feature alongside the car’s luxurious black and white interior. The car will come equipped with the hardtop and a black canvas convertible top, rear fender shields, and American Classic 670R15 radial tires. The odometer reads 30,399 miles, following an engine re-build. The car also features its complete dual through the bumper system, giving the vehicle a voice that matches its personality.
Marilyn Monroe owned the Ford Thunderbird for six years until she generously gifted it to John Strasberg—the son of director and acting coach, Lee Strasberg—on his 18th birthday. Sadly, this act likely took place only a few months before Monroe’s tragic death on 5 August 1962.
The legal documentations that will accompany the car come from files of the Estate of Lee Strasberg and were purchased at a Julien’s Auction sale in November 2016. The lot will additionally be accompanied by a detailed history of the vehicle.
Darren Julian, president/chief executive officer, said: ‘This wonderful black Ford Thunderbird is not only part of automotive history but comes with an aura of glamour, romance and tragedy of a true Hollywood legend.’
‘It will make the centerpiece of any classic car collection and be an object of fascination to millions,’ he added.
The auction event will take place take place on 17 November 2018—live in Los Angeles and online at juliensauctions.com.