By Brandes Elitch
A few years ago, the organizers of the Pebble Beach concours, in an effort to dispel the image of the entrants as so called trailer queens, initiated a drive for the entrants around the Monterey Peninsula.
In the event of a tie in class, the car that has completed the drive gets the nod in the judging. As part of this procession, the cars are parked in downtown Carmel for a few hours in the middle of the day, and in the middle of the street, for everyone to see. As I was threading my way through them, I saw something I had never seen before. It was obviously an early fifties car, obviously Italian, and the script said “Cisitalia.” I approached the owner, Urs Jakob, and said, “I’ve never seen a Cisitalia this big before,” he replied. “This isn’t a Cisitalia; it’s a Ford!” Boy, was that a shock.
He went on to explain that in the early 1950’s, Ford was considering the idea of what we now call a personal luxury car, which later became, of course, the two-seater Thunderbird. Keep in mind that, unlike GM and Chrysler, up until then, Ford did not really have any dream cars except the three cars made for Edsel Ford for his own personal use, which were never displayed for the public to see. In the early 1950s, Ford commissioned the building of six prototypes: two were bodied by Ghia, and four by Vignale, including Mr. Jakob’s car. Ford shipped 6 stock Ford chassis to Vignale; this particular car had a straight six, some of the others had the V-8. The current owner told me that he owns two of the cars, and he is hot on the trail of a third.