A Cherished Classic

George Nakashima's Ford Thunderbird

Mira Nakashima describes her father’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird as “a magical kind of car”. Purchased at the urging of her then four-year-old brother, Kevin, the T-Bird served many purposes as the father of the American Craft movement’s chosen mode of transportation. Kevin recalls that George would drive the coupe to the lumberyard and throw smaller pieces of wood in the trunk. On another notable excursion, he accompanied his father as he delivered a Long Chair to clients Ben and Bernarda Shahn, and had to sit underneath the massive chair the entire ride. Mira also has fond memories of the Thunderbird—her father drove her to the hospital in it when she went into labor with her daughter, Maria. She recalls appreciating the reclining seats as George took great care (and his time) in getting there safely. Well-cared for and loved for many years, he even designed and constructed a garage to house the Thunderbird on his property in New Hope. 

The custom dash-mounted nameplate on Nakashima's Thunderbird.

Another visible sign of George’s affection for his car is the custom dash-mounted nameplate that remains in place to this day. As an added attraction for buyers in the late 1950s and 60s, Ford offered personalized mounted nameplates for a selection of their models. Upon purchase, the nameplates were engraved and shipped by Ford to the new owner accompanied by a letter of thanks, installation instructions and a coupon for free installation by the dealer. Today, it is fairly uncommon to find a vintage example with the original nameplate—as cars changed hands, the new owner would understandably have the nameplate removed. The present lot, an all-white 1966 Ford Thunderbird with crimson interior, bears the original nameplate personalized for George Nakashima himself, a reminder that this classic American car has remained in the family’s possession since it rolled off the lot in 1966.