Everybody knows about Delorean and their stylish (if somewhat crappy) bare stainless steel-bodied cars. But long before that, there was Ford, Allegheny Ludlum, and some of the best show cars ever to actually be used.
It all started in 1935, back when Amelia Earhart made the first solo flight from Hawaii to New York, 20 Gerbils caught in Mongolia for research purposes became the ancestors from which all Gerbils in the U.S. are descended, toilet paper was finally being advertised as “splinter-free”, and Allegheny Ludlum Steel wanted to showcase the functional and decorative uses for stainless steel by building a car out of it.
So they phoned up Ford and basically said “Hey, wanna build some cars out of stainless steel?” Ford thought that sounded like a great idea, and promptly ruined a set of stamping dies making six 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudor sedans. But Allegheny Ludlum got their stainless steel V8 Fords, and sent one to each of their six regional sales executives, who would then give that car to the best salesman in the area to use for a year each year.
Although making the six cars ruined Ford’s stamping dies, these cars did end up being an extremely successful publicity stunt for both companies. Allegheny Ludlum’s salesmen drove these things A LOT, with all six of them going through several engines and racking up over 200,000 miles each before being retired in 1946.
In fact, the project generated so much publicity that in 1960, Allegheny Ludlum approached Ford again to see if they were willing to make more. Ford once again obliged, but this time they learned from their mistakes and waited until the entire regular 1960 production run was over before ruining their dies stamping out two 1960 Ford Thunderbirds.
And they really went all out on these things... Everything that could be made out of stainless steel was made of stainless steel. The body, the bumpers, the trim, everything. Even the exhaust pipe and mufflers were made of stainless steel, apparently. I wonder how well that holds up over time?
Seven years later, they did it again and made three stainless steel ‘67 Lincoln Continental convertibles, but that would sadly be the last time Ford and Allegheny Ludlum collaborated.
Still, it was a special enough part of both companies’ histories that nine of the 11 cars are still around (two of the ‘36 Fords were destroyed at some point). Most are in museums, although Allegheny Ludlum will soon sell a complete trio at auction, saying “they deserve to take their place in a significant collection or museum where they can be more widely appreciated in a collector car environment for generations to come.” So there’s a good chance these will continue to capture imaginations for years to come.
Which one would you want the most? :)