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Recognition may be given for elevation to the CTCI Hall of Fame to an individual who, in the opinion of the CTCI Board of Directors, has contributed to the design, development, or promotion of the 1955, 1956, & 1957 Classic Thunderbirds.
The individuals who are in the Thunderbird Hall of Fame are as follows:
With the introduction of the new "aero" look for the Thunderbirds in 1983 they became more attractive as race cars. In 1985 famed race car driver, Bill Elliott punctuated Thunderbird's racing history by capturing 11 superspeedway races, becoming the only NASCAR driver to have ever won the Winston Million, and by taking three of NASCAR's four biggest races in a single year. Elliott has won an incredible 39 races during his career.
Bill Boyer was hired from GM by Frank Hershey to work on the then secret Ford Sports Car project. Hershey closely supervised Boyer, along with other designers, in laying down the lines of the car and building the clay model. Bill Boyer's original design in 1954 singlehandedly erected the personal luxury-car segment in the United States. Public orders totaled more than 3,500 within the first 10 days. While planned volume for the model year was only 10,000 units Ford went on to produce over 16,000 units for that model year.
In the early 1980's Ford Design Vice President Jack Telnack's decision to shun conventional design ideas resulted in the introduction of Thunderbird's "aero" styling which has reshaped design conventions in the entire automotive industry, winning Motor Trend's "car of the Year" awards in 1987 and 1989. This "aero" styling has lasted well into the 21st Century and was truly a milestone step in automotive design pioneered by the Thunderbird.
As a young Ford car stylist, Alden "Gib" Giberson (pronounced GUY-ber-son) was the one who suggested the name "Thunderbird". "Gib" lived and worked for a time in the Southwest and was familiar with Southwest Indian culture and lore. Ford management endlessly considered all the suggested names and finally, just prior to the car's unveiling at a Press Preview, held on February 17, 1954, top management selected "Thunderbird" from the many suggestions made by the stylists.
Franklin Q. Hershey was a legendary designer when he joined Ford in early 1952. Having cut his styling teeth at Walter Murphy Body Co. of Los Angeles in the late '20s and early '30s, he went on to work at Hudson, and then to GM (Pontiac) prior to World War II. At GM he spent a few years working at their Opel plant in Germany, just prior to the outbreak of the war. In 1944, he was appointed head of the Cadillac styling studio. In the late '40s Frank worked for Packard before being hired as Chief Stylist of the Ford Division.
Thomas B. Case was assigned to the Ford Sports Car project once it got the official "go ahead" from top management. In his great book, Thunderbird; An Odyssey in Automotive Design, Bill Boyer stated Tom's job was to monitor the development of the car from the styling, engineering, and mock-up phases, and then ready the design for production. In carrying out his duties, Case was responsible for issuing product letters that dictated how parts would appear based on decisions made by executives.
Allan was employed by Ford in 1951 and assigned to work in the Advanced Styling Studio. In early 1952, he, along with Bill Boyer and John Samsen, were asked by Ford Chief Stylist Franklin Hershey to prepare full size artistic renderings of what they believed a sports car should look like. Each designer was provided with size specifications such as wheel base, height, and length which were dictated by the Engineering Department. Shortly thereafter, theme proposals were shown to senior management who liked certain aspects of all three designs.
John was employed by Ford in March 1952 and was assigned by Ford Chief Stylist Franklin Hershey to work in the Body Development Studio. While assigned to this studio, John produced artistic renderings of various side views of the 1955 Ford passenger car which was in final stages of design, along with various versions of the tail light and side ornamentation. Along with Bill Boyer and Allan Kornmiller, he was asked by Frank Hershey to prepare full size artistic renderings of what they believed a sports car should look like based on size specifications which were dictated by the Engineering Department.
Perhaps one of Lois' most valuable contributions to owners of the two-passenger Thunderbirds was her intervention with Ford's decision to discard dated Factory Invoices. Lois was able to obtain the massive files for all but the early production '55 T-Birds. Lois was also instrumental in convincing Ford to produce a run of desperately needed T-Bird sheet metal. After a decade of tireless negotiation, Ford resurrected the original dies and authorized the Budd Co. to produce a (limited) run of sheet metal parts in 1972/73. Lois was the ideal ambassador for CTCI's long-time alliance with Ford.
Chase Morsey, Jr. served as the Chief Product Planner of the Ford Division of the Ford Motor Company during the early 1950ís. This was the same time period the 1955 Thunderbird entered its engineering and design phase. He is credited with recruiting the Budd Company to build the bodies, settled several management disputes over the carís design, adapted the 1956 Continental Mark II roofline to the hard top, ensured that several power and creature comfort options would be available to buyers, and coined the marketing term, "personal car", given to the Thunderbird by Ford.
Way back in 1961, Vic Take got the idea for starting a club for the 1955-1957 Thunderbirds. He began a newsletter and charged $1 a year. Things boomed, but after a couple of years, Vic found himself overwhelmed trying to keep up with it all from his home in the St. Louis area.
Vic approached the BATOC club to take over the fledgling CTCI. Roger Neiss volunteered for the task, with the help of his wife, Edna (Roger and Edna were leaders of BATOC at that time). Roger was associated with the printing business and he started the EarlyBird (Volume 1, Numbers 1&2, Jan/Feb 1963). Roger and Edna continued in this role until late 1971, working out of their home in San Francisco. Due to their efforts, CTCI had really grown in that first decade.
If Vic Take hadnít had the idea for a Thunderbird club 53 years ago, there might not be a CTCI today. And if Roger and Edna Neiss had not stepped in to take over from Vic, the new T-bird club might have just withered on the vine. It is through the pathfinding efforts of these three people many years ago that sowed the seeds for the Classic Thunderbird Club International that we know today.