Vintage T-birds from Canada to Carolina gather at national convention, show in Mount Pleasant

Jack Cassidy of Orange Park, Fla., displayed a 1957 Thunderbird at the Vintage Thunderbird Club International car show at Marriott Courtyard in Mount Pleasant (Jim Parker/Staff 9-29-2012).

By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

The shirt John Harris was wearing probably wasn’t called Samoan Coral, but it sure came close to matching that color, which coats his 1962 Thunderbird.

“I’m proud of it,” said Harris, of Suwanee, Ga., near Atlanta. The salmon-like shade “is an original color for (that year’s) Thunderbird. I think it’s the prettiest one here.”

That’s quite a testament. Harris showed the classic convertible in a car show for the Vintage Thunderbird Club International’s 40th national convention Sept. 26-30 in Mount Pleasant. About 60 classic T-birds and dozens of owners from as far as Manitoba, Canada, took part in the event at the Marriott Courtyard.

“Charleston was great,” said J. Rodney Wake of Wichita, Kan., vice president of the international club and president of Mid-Kansas T-Birds.

“We enjoyed Fort Sumter, the (Charleston) Tea Plantation. We kept quite busy,” he said. The late Sepatember event brought about three times as many people as vehicles.

Thunderbirds on display were among the top T-birds in North America. Many were classic early models from 1955 to 1966 but there were also convertibles and hard tops from the late 1960s and ’70s along with one corner devoted to vehicles from 2000 and newer.

With this year’s convention held in the Southeast, the majority of cars drove in from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas as well as South Carolina. But there were also Thunderbirds from Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland and Colorado among other places.

The car show was just one of the convention’s highlights.

“We had an excellent turnout,” Wake said. “You have to realize the (show) standards are judged as close to original,” rather than simply on looks, he said.

Describing his Samoan Coral-painted car, Harris said he got the T-bird through a trade with a friend and fellow collector. He swapped a 1959 Thunderbird for the ’62, which was in parts when he received the car.

“It took us two-and-a-half years to put it together,” Harris said. The first time out in a rally, the retooled Thunderbird “won best of the show,” he said.

For more information, visit www.vintagethunderbirdclub.net.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.