Rare Howard Hughes Convertibles to be Sold


A pair of convertibles owned by movie and aviation mogul Howard  Hughes  will  be  auctioned  for  the  first  time  at  the 35th anniversary Barrett-Jackson auction. Both convertibles are fully restored and will cross the auction block at no reserve on Saturday, January 21st.

“Our family and company have always been interested in aviation as well as automobiles,” noted Craig Jackson, president and CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. “Last year’s record-setting sale of Howard Hughes’ 1953 Buick Roadmaster proved that America appreciates a vehicle’s provenance as much as its intrinsic value. We’re honored to sell two more of Mr. Hughes’ vehicles, which will surely become the centerpieces of some of the finest collections.”

The  most  unusual  of  the  two  Hughes  cars  for  sale  is  a  1956  Ford  Thunderbird convertible, Lot #1318, which was converted into a high-performance airport rescue vehicle. It features both hard and soft tops, a 225-hp V-8, and some of the most in-depth documented history of any Thunderbird ever made.

During the world’s longest flight in 1959, the “Rescue Thunderbird,” then owned by George “Mr. Aviation” Crockett, a blood descendent of the famous Tennessee pioneer, Davy Crockett, and Alamo Airways owner, lent refueling assistance from the ground after the original fuel truck malfunctioned. Because of the Thunderbird, the 172 Cessna stayed in the air for over 64 days. In 1967, Hughes Tool Co. purchased Alamo Airways and all of its holdings, including the T-Bird, which quickly became a key point of interest to Hughes.

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The  second  Hughes convertible  in the auction is  a  powder-blue 1957 Chrysler Imperial,  Lot #1278.1. With a 392-cid V-8, the Imperial pushed 340 horsepower through its automatic transmission, making this one of the  most  performance-oriented  of  Hughes’  fleet. Brian  Jackson  found  the  Imperial  in  the  same storage  room  that  contained  the  aforementioned ’53 Roadmaster. It’s  rumored  that  this  car  was  used  by  Hughes’  girlfriends,  as  it  was  unlikely  that  the  germ-phobic recluse would ride in an open car.

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