There's a "Thunderbird Ranch"
So you've heard about Thunderbird Ranch and don't have a clue what it is all about.
Well, let me explain. I'm John and I started the place. I have been around Thunderbirds since 1965, or should I say they have been around me. I got the bug before I even had my drivers license and that was about 1961 or 62. I ended up getting my first Thunderbird in 1965 when I graduated from High School. It was a 1960 conv. that had been rolled over. I had to put that thing back together on a real shoestring budget. Not that big of a deal since I was raised from 5 years old in my dads repair shop. Welders and torches were my toys. It didn't take long and the "Bird" was on the road. We terrorized the town with that car too. I couldn't take it to Vietnam with me so it got stuffed in the shed for a year and a half till I got back but then it grabbed me. The Fever ! I bought a second one before I even got out of the Army so now I had two of them, both 1960's. One was the conv. and the other a hardtop. Within a few months of getting home I ended up buying the third one, a 1963 hardtop. (still had the other 2). Then the 1961 conv. was added, finally had to sell the '63.
And so went the story. This lasted for quite a few years. My dream was to have one convertible of each year they produced them. I figured I had to gather all the hardtops for parts to restore the converts. I did not sell any parts due to the thought I was going to need them for all my own restorations. Somewhere along in those years I started work on a 1965 conv. for myself. Seven years later it was almost done. The thought occurred to me that I would never live long enough to restore 9 of these convertibles. I was already mid 30's. At 7 years each I may as well take them to my grave.
Many people tried to buy parts over the years so I finally decided to sell some of the parts. That was so much fun that I took the money and bought more parts cars. Then I sold more parts. Then I bought more cars. I was running out of space and my body shop business was not as much fun as selling Thunderbird parts so I had to make a decision. I got an offer I couldn't refuse for my body shop. Sold it and asked if I could let my Thnderbirds there till spring. This was fall 1986.
In Dec. 1986 I found 40 acres of land with a barn and a pole shed on top of Cary Bluff just south of Marshfield, WI. 15 miles from where I had lived all my life and never knew it existed. I bought the place and moved all the cars and parts over the next 7 months. The cars were all moved one by one, many without wheels and tires, requiring a forklift and a flat bed trailer. It was fun. About that time also, a singer came out with a song about "Cadillac Ranch". I figured if there was such a place then this place was going to be "Thunderbird Ranch". And the name stuck. The Thunderbirds got planted in neat rows out behind the barn and more get added every year. The barn got spaces converted into different types of work areas and one end of the upstairs became the living space---Home!
A sweetheart was added to Johns life in '92 and the barn got another workshop shortly there after. A woodcraft shop where Sue makes Intarsia (wood mosaics) artwork out of wood. The barn and the pole shed are now filled with Thunderbird parts. The UPS man comes every day to haul some of the parts away to the far reaches of the globe. The Internet has made this place every Thunderbird lovers stopover when surfing the net and has given John the chance to share some of the wealth of knowledge he has gained from his love of Thunderbirds with the rest of the world.
Thank you for sharing this bit of my life that I have enjoyed so much over the years and hope to for many more to come.
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