Gordy Brown's 1963 Ford

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The Thunderbird as it sat when Gordy bought it. It had been involved in a traffic accident, and Gordy saw the car just after the wreck happened. He was able to track the owner down, as he knew the insurance company would most likely "total" it, and he talked the seller into selling him the car for a little more than the salvage bids for it. Photo courtesy of Gordy Brown.
Gordy's wife Carol proudly posing in front of their brand new Thunderbird. Photo courtesy of Gordy Brown.
The Thunderbird as it sat after Gordy had fixed it up and installed hydraulic lifts. This photo shows Gordy, Carol and Carol's little brother next to the car. Photo courtesy of Gordy Brown.
A drawing by Gordy showing how he did all of his set ups.

1963 Ford Thunderbird owned and restyled by Gordy Brown of House of Customs in San Fernando, California. Gordy was originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, but decided to move to Southern California in the early 1960s, after Utah passed a law against altered suspension. The law pretty much killed the custom scene in Utah, and it was partly a reason why Gordy decided to move to San Fernando. When Gordy bought the Thunderbird, it had been involved in a traffic accident. He saw the car just after the wreck happened, and was able to track the owner down, as he knew the insurance company would most likely "total" it. He talked the seller into selling him the car for a little more than the salvage bids for it. Gordy's wife was thrilled about the car, and told their neighbors that they had bought a brand new Thunderbird. When the T-Bird came home on a wrecker the neighbors told Carol that they were crazy. According to Gordy, they were singing a different song six weeks later. Gordy's Thunderbird was a Special Model Landau with a black Landau roof and side Landau moldings on the roof. It was black with a black interior. The interior featured wood trim and a wood steering wheel. Gordy removed all trim moldings and emblems except for the molding that ran from the headlights to the taillights on the fenders, doors and quarter panels. The skirts were removed, and the small ridge around the rear wheel opening was smoothed out with lead. A single antenna was frenched into the quarter panel. The trunk lid was fully dechromed and opened by a solenoid. The hood scoop was reformed and done in lead. Gordy finished the car in black. After the car was finished, Gordy got a ticket for being too low, so he decided to instal hydraulic lifts on it around 1963/1964. The Thunderbird was Gordy's first hydraulic job, and most of the parts were purchased at Palley's in Los Angeles. The systems were 24 volt, and the fitting ends on the cylinders and pumps were AN Thread, a US Military spec which made making and connecting lines challenging, as in those days fittings and adapters were harder to find. Most people installing lifts in the 1960s used the lifts to lower the car as well as lifting it. Gordy was doing an old fashioned lowering job so the car had a good ride. The lifts were then used to raise the car up. As Gordy was using a great deal more of the spring in his systems, he had to create a cup for the longer spring. His mounting systems were also different as he used a plate welded to the hydraulic cylinder instead of a loose doughnut for the cylinder to push up against. Gordy also had an aluminum plug machined to fit inside the cylinder so that when the mounting plate was welded to the cylinder the plug would hold the cylinder true to shape and also work as a heat sink. Also being aluminum, the plug would not stick/weld to the inside of the cylinder, and it was easy to remove after the plate was welded to the cylinder. Gordy was making all lines for the system in Stainless Steel, and not rubber as others were using. His systems worked either the front or the rear of the car independently, and it had a Restrictor in the lines to keep the fluid from moving from one side to the other when turning with the lifts partially extended. All of Gordy's lifts were set up to sit no lower than 1 1/2 to 2 inches off the ground, as a safety factor in case a cylinder or line failed the car would still be driveable and not hit the ground. In 2014 Gordy told Kustomrama that his system were made for comfort, and did not slam up or down.[1]


The previous owner saw his old car after Gordy had finished it, and he offered to trade him straight across for the new "Flair Bird" Thunderbird he had bought. Gordy liked the look of the "Bullet Bird" better, so he turned the offer down.[1]


Later on, Gordy tunneled the taillight housings into the trunk so it would take 1959 Cadillac taillights. The housings were tunneled so they wouldn't stick out beyond the bumper. CIBIE headlights were installed as well. The last paint job Gordy gave the car was Pearl Black with Charcoal and Silver Lace pattern below the body line on the front fender and door.[1]


In the 1970s or 1980s Steve Stanford did a drawing of Gordy's Thunderbird that was published in Street Rodder Magazine. In 2014 Gordy still owned the Thunderbird, and it was a part of his custom car collection.[1]


References



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