Marilyn Monroe owned 1956 T-Bird may claim $500K

This stunning Ford Thunderbird owned by Marilyn Monroe from 1955 to 1962 will be sold by Julien’s Auctions as part of their annual blockbuster event Icons & Idols: Hollywood to take place Nov. 16-17, 2018.
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LOS ANGELES – This stunning Ford Thunderbird owned by Marilyn Monroe from 1955 to 1962 will be sold by Julien’s Auctions as part of their annual blockbuster event Icons & Idols: Hollywood to take place Nov. 16-17, 2018.

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird is estimated to fetch $300,000-$500,000 at auction. Courtesy Julien’s Auctions

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird is estimated to fetch $300,000-$500,000 at auction. Courtesy Julien’s Auctions

One of the most desired women in the world, Monroe’s life was deeply troubled, but during the time that she owned this car she was enjoying some of the happiest days of her life.

Soon after buying the Thunderbird, Monroe married the celebrated playwright Arthur Miller. A published report at the time suggests that Monroe and Miller drove this vehicle to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956 and likely their private wedding on June 30, 1956.

The Marilyn Monroe Thunderbird was purchased on December 20, 1955, from Westport Motors, Westport, Connecticut in the name of her corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions. Most accounts suggest it was a Christmas gift from her business partner and photographer, Milton Greene.

Amy Greene, Milton Greene’s wife, speaking about this car, 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.”

It was a powerful car for its time with a 225 horsepower V-8 engine and a top speed of 113 MPH. This car features its complete dual, through the bumper exhaust system and gives a deep throaty roar at speed – adding to its “va-va voom” personality.

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

The vehicle has a roadster body with two-doors and was designed to be Ford’s answer to the two seater Chevrolet Corvette. However the Thunderbird emphasized driver comfort and amenities as well as performance. By dubbing it a “Personal Luxury Car” Ford created a whole new niche in the American automobile market. The 1956 model had the spare wheel mounted in a flashy exterior “continental kit” to allow for more trunk space.

Marilyn Monroe’s 1956 Thunderbird came from the factory with both its canvas convertible top and a detachable hard top with distinctive “porthole” windows. A truly iconic look for a Hollywood legend.

Monroe owned this gorgeous vehicle for six years until generously giving it as an 18th birthday gift to John Strasberg, the son of director and acting coach Lee Strasberg and his wife Paula. Legal transfer likely took place only a few months before Monroe’s death August 5, 1962.

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

Darren Julien, president/chief executive officer of the auction house that bears his name, says: “Once in a while something comes along that has a powerful magic about it, a charisma, because of everything and everyone associated with it. 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.”

The Marilyn Monroe Thunderbird was traced and purchased by the current owner with the assistance of the accompanying documents which were among those received by Lee Strasberg when he inherited the majority of the Marilyn Monroe estate.

The current owner says: “I found the vehicle in lovely show condition. Nevertheless, the car has received a frame-off restoration to its exact original appearance by Prestige Thunderbird, Inc., of Santa Fe Springs, CA. Prestige is the premier west coast firm specializing only in classic 1955, 1956, and 1957 Ford Thunderbirds.” 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.

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

Marilyn Monroe’s raven black 1956 Thunderbird

“Finding this car, a classic two-seater model, after 56 plus years of its unknown whereabouts, was a singular event. No other car has been located and documented as owned by the incomparable Marilyn Monroe.”

This 1956 Ford Thunderbird owned by Marilyn Monroe has the serial number P6FH151382. The vehicle is accompanied by documents relating to Monroe and her ownership of the vehicle including: a Declaration of Ownership of a Motor Vehicle issued by the State of Connecticut; a letter from the insurance company Kalvin, Miller, Meyer and Sachs; and a letter from the City of New York Department of Finance Bureau of Collections. These documents were purchased at a Julien’s Auctions sale held on November 18, 2016 and came from files of the Estate of Lee Strasberg. Strasberg became the owner of the documentation when Monroe died. The lot is additionally accompanied by a detailed history of the vehicle compiled by the current owner and consignor.

The car features a Raven Black exterior with a black and white interior. It has a 312 cubic-inch V-8 engine with Holley 4 bbl. carburetor generating 225 horsepower, Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, power windows, and power seats. It comes equipped with both a black canvas convertible top and a “porthole” windowed hardtop, rear fender shields (skirts) and American Classic 670R15 radial tires. The odometer reads 30,399 miles following an engine re-build.

For more information on Julien’s Auctions, visit www.juliensauctions.com.