Marilyn Monroe's automotive legacy to be auctioned for first time
The ultimate showbiz sale is taking place in America, with Mairlyn Monroe's Ford Thunderbird going to auction for the first time
Beyond various royal families and heads of state, if you were to buy a car with a celebrity history, there's not many names bigger than 1950s superstar Marilyn Monroe. The actress, singer, model and sex symbol had a troubled life, but this 1956 Ford Thunderbird finished in Raven Black brought some of her happier moments.
Monroe owned the car from 1955 until '62, the year of her death. It was bought from Westport Motors in Connecticut in December of '55, and the next summer it carried Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller to their wedding. Perhaps surprising for the time, it was Monroe who was usually in the driver's seat, and she used to 'take the convertible with the top down, and go sailing along the highway' with Amy Greene, wife of her photographer Milton.
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Such drives would've been a lot of fun with a 225bhp 312ci V8 engine and a top speed of 113mph at your disposal, and a large dual exhaust system that made it one of the best sounding vehicles on the road. As a roadster it came with a soft and a hard top, the latter of which had submarine-style porthole windows for passengers to peek out of the black and white leather interior. It's combination of performance and the kind of luxury celebrities desired arguably started a new submarket for cars, influences of which can be seen in the chauffeur-driven models of today.
Monroe relinquished ownership of the car to 18-year-old John Strasberg, son of Hollywood director Lee, as a birthday gift. The elder of the two inherited a substantial amount of Monroe's estate upon her death, and the documentation included in that allowed the current owner of the vehicle to be sure that the Thunderbird was the exact one Monroe owned. That confirmation means this is the only known car in the world to have been a former asset of Monroe.
After purchasing it they took it to Prestige Thunderbird in Santa Fe Springs, which did a frame-off restoration of the car to the original specification, despite it already being in 'show condition'. The car has a Ford–O–Matic automatic transmission, power steering, brakes, windows and seats and a mileage of 30,399 miles since Prestige rebuilt the engine.
Julien's Auctions is selling the car as part of its annual 'Icons & Idols: Hollywood' sale in Los Angeles on November 17, and is estimated to sell at $300,000-$500,000. The vehicle is accompanied by documents confirming Monroe's ownership and a detailed history of the vehicle curated by the current owner and consignor. To find out more about the sale, visit Julien's Auctions website.
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