Stainless steel Ford Model 38, Thunderbird and Lincoln Continental headed to auction

Anyone wanting to know what Tesla Cybertruck ownership will entail should get a bidder's placard ready for the Auburn Auction over Labor Day Weekend in Indiana. On September 5, Worldwide Auctioneers will offer three stainless steel Fords — that's right, Fords — as one lot, without reserve.

Before DeLorean ginned up his DMC-12 and before Cadillac put a stainless steel roof on the 1958 Eldorado Brougham, executives at Allegheny Ludlum Steel contacted Ford in 1935 about building a car with the chromium-tinged metal. Ford was game, the company ruining a set of stamping dies to punch body panels for six 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudor sedans. Allegheny Ludlum sent a car to each of its six regional sale execs, and the story goes that the reps gave the region's top salesman the keys to the car for one year. With every one of the glinting Deluxe Tudors powering through more than a few 85-horsepower Ford V8s on their way to doing more than 200,000 miles apiece before being retired in 1946, the steelmaker and Ford reaped huge publicity.

The two parties collaborated again 24 years later on two 1960 Thunderbirds with body skins, grilles, and bumpers formed from T302 stainless. Both Thunderbirds are still fitted with their original T409 stainless steel mufflers and T304 exhaust pipes. Supposedly, Ford remembered the lessons of ruined tooling learned with the 1936 Deluxe, choosing to stamp the Thunderbird panels after standard 1960 Thunderbird production ended.

Seven years after that, three 1967 Lincoln Continental convertibles donned the gleaming garb. Contrary to what you might think, the weights of all three cars don't differ much from their production brethren.

Of the 11 total stainless steel Fords made, nine remain. Two of the 1936 models bit the dust somewhere along the way, the rest are in public galleries like the Early Ford V-8 Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland, or in the steel company's collection. Now called Allegheny Technologies, the company is auctioning a complete set believing "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."

Worldwide Auctioneers hasn't provided a pre-sale estimate for the lot, but any bidder should expect to bring money. Ford built a heap of 1936 Deluxe Tudors, with high auction sale prices of around $100,000 over the past decade. Continentals at auction have been a little more affordable, Thunderbirds a touch more affordable still. But the special provenance of these cars should upend all that; in 2010, a private owner sent one of the stainless steel 1936 Fords to auction with Mecum and turned down a $550,000 bid. Giving collectors a chance to swipe three museum-quality pieces with proven history in one go sounds like a recipe for seven figures.

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