Former club member Norm Dodd's 1955 is now in Ken Austin's collection
30 + intrepid souls ventured out on a very wet/rainy morning to tour the private collection of Ken Austin in Newberg. Only one couple was brave enough to travel in their Early Bird though. Congratulations to Bob & Marcena Monroe for their perseverance and showing the rest of us what wet weather Thunderbirding is all about. We also owe them a big Thank-You for planning this event. They had a beautiful back-roads drive planned for us that would have been great in a Thunderbird with the top off. Oh-well, it was nice even in a family "truckster". While Ken's collection is mainly Ford there were a few other examples on display. A lot of attention was given to his Golden Rod Yellow 1955 Thunderbird. And an extremely rare Ford Model K. It is only one of five known to exist. The interesting thing about the Golden Rod Yellow car is its history. Dave and I were intrigued by it because there were a few clues that it was a very early '55, and we know that Yellow wasn't used until the spring of 1955. Plus it had a CTCI Senior decal on the window. With permission from Ken Austin we opened the hood for a closer look. The data plate proved that it is indeed a very early Thunderbird and that it was originally Thunderbird Blue with a Turquoise and White interior. It had also been converted to 12V. Our question was how did a car with so many changes become elevated to Senior? About then Ken stepped in and let us know that the person he bought it from had stated that he got it "from a guy that used to work for the telephone company". Dave and I looked at each other with a little surprise and said "oh" to each other. Checking the data plate number with records after I got home verified our surprise: it had been owned by former RCT members Norm & Kathy Dodd. In fact Dave did the body and paint work and I did the wiring and a lot of the detail assembly. It is amazing how you forget after 30 years. Norm restored that car in 1985/86 and showed it at our CTCI International Convention in Bend in 1986. He showed it in Primary Non-Original and was awarded the Senior status at that time. See photos of it and the Model K below. One of the photos shows the head on a flat-head Ford V8 that says "Austin" on it. While a student at OSU Ken designed and built heads and intake manifolds for Ford Flatheads. He is also famous on campus as the original Benny Beaver. After viewing the collection we drove to the Newberg Izzy's for lunch and a business meeting. Details of the meeting will be in the minutes of the next Bird Watcher.