Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ford Show Cars, 1965-1968

Text by David W. Temple
Photos from author's files

1965 Ford LTD Executive and Green Mist
The 1965 LTD Executive was a custom-built show car authorized by Ford, built by Gene Winfield, and shown at multiple venues across the country as part of the Caravan of Stars, an auto show produced by model car manufacturer AMT, customizer George Barris, and Ford Motor Company beginning in 1963. Ford executives believed this program would bring even more attention to the company’s cars. Others soon joined the effort – Bill Cushenberry, Gene Winfield, as well as Vince Gardener of Dearborn Steel Tubing.
The LTD Executive received a 1966-style grille, modified headlight bezels, recessed taillights, a stainless steel panel from the windshield header to the midpoint of the roof, and a padded vinyl covering from that point rearward. All emblems and name plaques were removed and a special medallion placed behind the front wheels. Upholstery was fabric and leather. The car was photographed with stock wheel covers for early publicity photos, but the wheels and wheel covers were later replaced with Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. At some other point it was fitted with Rader aluminum wheels.
Another show car, dubbed the Green Mist, was also a part of the Caravan of Stars. Like the Executive it was built from a Galaxie 500/LTD, but in this case a two-door version. The Green Mist featured a custom-fabricated grille, NASCAR-type headlight panels, custom taillights, extruded aluminum rocker moldings, Rader Hot Wire wheels (fitted later), and a two-piece top. The rear component of the top was trimmed with fake landau irons; this section could be left in place. With the whole top removed a Thunderbird Sports Roadster style tonneau could be fitted behind the rear seat. As this car’s name suggests, it was painted in a custom-mixed emerald green.

1966 Magic Cruiser and Black Pearl
The 1966 Magic Cruiser could be transformed from a fastback to a station wagon and back via hydraulic and electric controls. One of the specifications given to George Barris who was hired by Ford to build the car was that the movable roof section rise within seven seconds. A series of aircraft hydraulic systems, screw jacks, and a switch on the dash made that possible. Lowering the tailgate allowed for easy entry to a rear-facing third seat, and like on Ford’s production station wagons, the second and third seats could be folded down for addition cargo storage.
In front, the two-door hardtop LTD-based Magic Cruiser had one-piece tempered glass headlights, shaved door handles, and a set of Western wire mag wheels. It was painted a custom-mixed “Gold Sunset” and the interior was two-toned with pleated vinyl and lamb’s wool carpeting. Under the hood was the new 428.
This show car was probably re-skinned to become the Magic Cruiser II the following year.
Another LTD two-door hardtop was converted into the Black Pearl. It was a mild custom wearing “Firefrost Black Metallic” paint and a black vinyl top. Door handles, deck lid keyhole, and block lettering on the hood were removed. Taillights were deeply recessed. Stock wire wheel covers and with custom triple-stripe white wall tires were fitted to the wheels. Pearl white seats with satin and leather bolsters covered the seats and a pearl white mouton carpet was applied to the floor.

1967 Magic Cruiser and Interceptor
One of the ways FoMoCo promoted its new 1967 full-sized cars was with a couple of show cars christened Magic Cruiser II and XL Interceptor. The Magic Cruiser II built by George Barris was, as Ford described it, a “super fastback” that could be turned into a station wagon when the fastback section of the roof and two special window-side panels were electrically raised. It was possibly built from the original Magic Cruiser shown during 1966.
The XL Interceptor had numerous modifications such as magnesium wheels, special tires, textured appliqu├ęs on the lower bodysides, floating design taillights, reflector slots in the quarters, a modified grille, and plastic lens covers over the headlights. A 428 resided under the hood of the light blue murano pearl show vehicle. The two unique cars were shown nationally at various events that year such as the Chicago Auto Show.


1968 Fiera
The 1968 XL-based Fiera featured several styling modifications. Among these were a lowered roofline which altered the angles of the front and rear windshields resulting in a very sleek looking car. The mostly stock-looking grille was deeply recessed and had auxiliary rectangular driving lights positioned on either side of the stock grille divider. Under the louvered hood was a 428. Vent windows, side moldings, front side marker lamps, and rear side reflectors were deleted. Racing-style outside mirrors replaced the stock units. The rear wheel openings were enlarged a bit and a pair of brake cooling vents was installed just ahead of the rear wheels. Wide-oval white wall tires were fitted to a set of custom wheels. A wide trunk molding extended to the taillights; the extensions replaced the stock back-up lamp assemblies.
Epilogue
All of the above cars were probably crushed after their auto show duties were at an end. However, in the past such cars have escaped the crush order. Perhaps one or two of these cars does still exist. 
Do any readers have additional information and/or photographs of these cars?

1 comment:

  1. What a waste that they had to get rid of these beauties after the show! The Ford XL Interceptor, for one, is a show car that receives good reviews from car owners for its consumer quality. It’s pleasing to the eyes and not just aerodynamic.

    Delsie Maidens

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