Imagine my thrill when I learned that Hollywood icon and legend Marilyn Monroe didn’t just get chauffeured everywhere, she apparently liked to drive as well. What was a suitable car for a such a star? A 1956 Ford Thunderbird, that’s what. And it’s for sale.
Listed as part of the Icons & Idols: Hollywood auction from Julien’s Auctions, the Thunderbird was purchased on Dec. 20, 1955 from a dealership in Connecticut by the actor’s corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions. It’s been suggested that the car was a Christmas present from Monroe’s photographer and business partner, Milton Greene.
Greene’s wife, Amy, told the auction house, “Marilyn liked to drive. We’d take the convertible and with the top down, we’d go sailing along the highway. We both liked to feel the wind in our faces and the warmth of the heater on our legs.”
The car came into Monroe’s life at the height of her career. By the mid- to late-1950s, she’d already been featured on the cover and centerfold of the first issue of Playboy and starred in The Seven Year Itch. After buying the Thunderbird, Monroe married the playwright, Arthur Miller.
The Julien’s listing reads, “A published report at the time suggests that Monroe and Miller drove this vehicle to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956 and likely their private wedding on June 30, 1956.”
The Thunderbird came with both a canvas convertible top and a detachable hard top. It was painted Raven Black on the outside and has a 312 cubic-inch, carbureted V8 that makes 225 horsepower. It also has an automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, power windows and power seats. There are 30,399 miles on the clock after an engine rebuild.
Monroe had the car for six years before she gave it to director and acting coach Lee Strasberg’s son for his 18th birthday.
The Thunderbird will be auctioned on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles. Julien’s estimates that it will fetch between $250,000 to $500,000.