Marilyn Monroe’s 1956 Ford Thunderbird Up for Auction Next Month
Here’s your chance to buy a car that was owned by arguably the most famous Hollywood actress in historyby Kirby Garlitos, on
A 1956 Ford Thunderbird belonging to the late Marilyn Monroe is going up for auction at Julien’s Auctions’ Icons and Idols Auction on November 16. The iconic American actress owned the Raven Black Thunderbird between 1955 and 1962. The car has an estimated value between $250,000 and $500,000, though, considering the provenance behind it, including the fact that arguably one of the biggest Hollywood celebrities in history owned it, the selling price could go through the roof.
It’s not often that you see a car belonging to Marilyn Monroe goes up for auction. Steve McQueen? Sure. James Dean? We’ve seen those before. Marilyn Monroe? That rarely happens. Naturally, this 1956 Ford Thunderbird immediately becomes an iconic Hollywood car because of the provenance behind it.
Records show that Marilyn Monroe’s production company bought the convertible from Westport Motors in Connecticut in December 1955.
According to the auction house, most accounts point to the car being a gift to Monroe from her business partner and photographer Milton Greene. A separate report published at the time also indicates that the car was used during her civil wedding ceremony with playwright Arthur Miller on June 28, 1956. It’s unclear if the couple used the car in their private wedding two days later. All told, Monroe is said to have owned the Thunderbird for six years before handing it over to John Strasberg, the son of director and acting coach Lee Strasberg, as an 18th birthday present. In a heartbreaking twist, Monroe died a few months after giving the car to the younger Strasberg.
Fast forward to today and the current owner of the car was able to trace its history with the help of John Strasberg, whose father, Lee, inherited a majority of Monroe’s estate, including the car’s declaration of ownership, insurance letter, and a letter from the New York Department of Finance Bureau Collection. The current owner added that he found the vehicle in “lovely show condition.” Nevertheless, he still had the Thunderbird restored to its exact original appearance by California-based Prestige Thunderbird, Inc.
Part of the makeup of Monroe’s Thunderbird is a 312cd V-8 engine that produces 225 horsepower.
The car also features a Holley four-barrel carburetor and a Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. The engine was rebuilt, according to Julien’s Auctions, and the car currently has 30,399 miles on it. Likewise, it’s equipped with full power steering, brakes, windows, seats, a black canvas convertible top, and a “porthole” hardtop. The car will hit Julien’s auction block on November 17, the second of the two-day auction event in Los Angeles, California.
If you’re looking to make a bid on this priceless piece of Hollywood history, you’re going to need to open up your checkbooks for this one. Its estimate price peaks at $500,000, but considering who owned it in the past, it’s very likely that it’s going to overshoot its estimate pretty quickly.
Read our full review on the 1964 - 1966 Ford Thunderbird.