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.
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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