Stainless isn't just for the kitchen: inside the stainless steel Fords

The story behind the Allegheny-Ludlum & Ford partnership to create the 'Stainless Fords'
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One of two produced, this 1960 Ford Thunderbird features a body clad in stainless-steel which includes the massive front and rear bumpers.

One of two produced, this 1960 Ford Thunderbird features a body clad in stainless-steel which includes the massive front and rear bumpers.

Long before John Z. DeLorean developed his stainless-steel-bodied DMC-12 gullwing coupes, an American company that wanted to promote the beauty and durability of this useful metal created several spectacular automobiles with Ford Motor Co.

Starting in 1936, Allegheny-Ludlum used this miracle metal to promote some of the many applications possible with the revolutionary material. Stainless-steel would retain its shine while remaining resistive to the usual corrosion and rust caused by the elements, and it looked good in the process. Working with Ford Motor Co., a total of nine automobiles were assembled using stainless-steel for all of the external body parts of the cars. These included six 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudors (two-door sedans), a pair of 1960 Thunderbird hardtop coupes and one 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan.

The 1936 Ford Tudor

One of six produced and one of four that have survived, this 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudor sedan is part of the Allegheny-Ludlum collection to be offered by Worldwide Auctioneers over Labor Day weekend.

One of six produced and one of four that have survived, this 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudor sedan is part of the Allegheny-Ludlum collection to be offered by Worldwide Auctioneers over Labor Day weekend.

A total of six stainless-steel 1936 Fords were created, of which four are known to have survived. However, this is the only example that has been maintained by Allegheny-Ludlum from new. It has been driven extensively over the last 84 years with the odometer showing more than 97,000 miles. Mounted in the dash is a factory AM radio plus a Ford fresh-air heater to keep the driver and occupants warm on a cool winter day. The interior appears to have been restored using materials similar to the original factory fabrics. Under the hood, the original 221-cid Flathead V-8 powers this car. It is reportedly a strong-running car still quite capable of highway speed with its 85-hp output. As one could expect, there are a few minor dings to the body work that might require more than just a Brillo pad to restore.

The interior of the 1936 Ford reveals it has a factory radio as well as an under-dash heater. As a safety feature, aftermarket turn signals have been added.

The interior of the 1936 Ford reveals it has a factory radio as well as an under-dash heater. As a safety feature, aftermarket turn signals have been added.

The 1960 Thunderbird

The rear view of the Allegheny-Ludlum Thunderbird immediately identifies it as a 1960 model with its unique taillamp arrangement.

The rear view of the Allegheny-Ludlum Thunderbird immediately identifies it as a 1960 model with its unique taillamp arrangement.

In July 1960, two stainless-steel Ford Thunderbird hardtops were created, and this example again has been in possession of Allegheny-Ludlum from new. Under the hood, the big-block 352-cid, 300-hp V-8 engine is fitted with power steering and brakes, and the car also has power windows, factory radio and heater-defroster. On the data plate, under the entry for the paint color, are the letters “DSO” to represent this was a District Special Order, as no exterior paint was applied to this car. Panels are produced from T302 stainless-steel with other grades of stainless utilized for the bumpers. During our inspection, we did notice that some of the non-exposed cowlings, including the A-pillars, are stamped-steel painted Corinthian White. Bumper guards and some trim pieces, as well as decorative trim, appear to be standard chrome-plated parts seen on regular-production Thunderbirds for the day. Fitted from Ford’s Wixom assembly plant with a red vinyl bucket seat interior and showing slightly more than 71,000 miles on the odometer, this T-Bird was used for numerous promotional events and does show some wear and tear.

The data plate for the 1960 Ford Thunderbird shows “DSO” where the paint color code would normally be represented with letter codes.

The data plate for the 1960 Ford Thunderbird shows “DSO” where the paint color code would normally be represented with letter codes.

The 1966 Lincoln Continental

The last stainless-steel car created by Allegheny-Ludlum is this one and only 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan, which has been owned by the company since new

The last stainless-steel car created by Allegheny-Ludlum is this one and only 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan, which has been owned by the company since new

The final stainless-steel car produced by Allegheny-Ludlum was a single 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible sedan. This impressive car has also been driven more than 91,000 miles and looks to have been maintained and used on a regular basis. The black folding soft top appears to have been recently replaced and fits tight and taut like the original.

According to the data plate, this car left Wixom with a white exterior and a dark blue leather interior. While the exterior panels are stainless-steel that have never been painted, it appears that the inner door panels are regular sheet metal and were painted black. The use of stainless-steel was very extensive including all the exterior panels as well as much of the ornamentation. The original leather seats are still supple with the driver’s seat showing some wear, but it is still quite serviceable for a 54-year-old open top car.

Stainless-steel on the outside, the rich dark blue leather interior of the 1966 Lincoln is in overall very good condition and has been well maintained from new.

Stainless-steel on the outside, the rich dark blue leather interior of the 1966 Lincoln is in overall very good condition and has been well maintained from new.

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62 Thunderbird 1

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