In 1966, Abercrombie & Fitch ordered 5 special 1967 Ford Thunderbirds
to be used as displays in their stores. Detroit Steel Tubing Company took
delivery of the Thunderbird Hardtops, all painted a special Apollo Blue
Metallic, and loaded with options. This is where the transformation took
place. The cars were changed into Tudor Landaus, complete with just about
everything you could possibly imagine being installed on an automobile
A 1967 Thunderbird with a factory power sun roof? A preview of things to
come for 1969, 5 were built for Abercrombie & Fitch to display in their
sporting goods stores in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami,
and Palm Beach.
Automobile manufacturers in the normal course of business produce special
versions of their standard models called "show cars." These special
vehicles are sometimes hand built from the ground up, often by overseas
coach builders. Some of them were street legal, fully-operational cars,
while others were never intended to be driven. An example of this would
be the 1967 Thunderbird Apollos, which were completely operational and
drivable, and the 1964-1965 Lincoln Continental Town Broughams, which looked
operational but could only be driven short distances, if done so very carefully.
They weren't completely finished. In fact, Lincoln Division advised handlers
that the car was "cobbled," and should not be driven except when
The five Apollos started life as production Thunderbird Hardtops, with
production scheduled for November 4, 1966. VIN numbers were 7Y81Q122570,
7Y81Q122571, 7Y81Z122572, 7Y81Q122573, and 7Y81Q122574, all were later
converted to Landaus by Detroit Steel Tubing Company, and all had the 428
V-8 engine, except for 7Y81Z122572, which was equipped with the standard
390 V-8. These cars were designed from day one to be fully operational,
and saleable to the public after their show duties were complete. Detroit
Steel Tubing Company was owned by Andy Hotten, and specialized in custom
versions of production cars. During the seventies, Andy Hotten would customize
Lincolns into mini-limousines and turn Mercury Colony Park Station Wagons
into Lincoln Continental Station Wagons.
Hotten's relationship with Ford was a long one, as he had raced Thunderbirds
at Daytona in 1956, with a speed record of 134 mph in the Daytona Flying
Mile. Hotton was also largely responsible for the lightweight "Thunderbolt"
cars, which were based on Ford Fairlanes and dominated professional drag
racing in the mid-sixties.
The Apollos were technically not factory show cars, as they were specially
ordered, and as such never appeared in official Ford car shows. They were
mentioned in the March 1967 issue of Motor Trend magazine, and no doubt contributed to additional interest in the Thunderbirds
in dealer showrooms in the cities where they were on display.
Of the five Apollos built, three are believed to still exist. One of them
was reportedly destroyed while in transit to its San Francisco destination
from Detroit; two are reported to be in excellent condition with very low
mileage, and in the hands of collectors; another was apparently used as
a daily driver for a number of years, and was in need of some restoration
work; the fifth one is unaccounted for at present.
The Thunderbird Apollos were never seriously considered as a regular production
model by Ford, as the cost to build each was reported to be around $15,000.
One of the Thunderbird's competitors, however, did offer a similar package.
In 1967 and 1968, the Imperial Division of Chrysler Corporation offered
a Mobile Director option for its Crown Coupes. While not as extensive as the Apollo package,
it featured a swiveling front passenger seat which could be turned around
180° to face the rear compartment. A Walnut table could be set up between
the front and rear seat, or adjusted to fit between the two rear passengers,
in the center of the seat. When not in use, it could be removed entirely.
It's possible the inspiration for the Apollo was the 1966 Imperial Mobile Executive Show Car [link opens in new window].
This was an expensive option on Imperials, costing a whopping $597.40 in
1967! The price came down considerably in 1968, but it's doubtful this
contributed to many additional sales that year. For additional information
on this rare option, please see our page on 1967 Imperial Optional Equipment.
Below, we have provided a complete listing of the special features found
on the Thunderbird Apollos. There's little doubt that the Apollos remain
one of the most unusual and rare models to ever bear the Thunderbird name,
unique examples of America's Personal Luxury Car.
Inside, fold-down tables were built-in to the front seat backs; a telephone
and Philco television were provided, as were dual rear reading lamps. Special
Dark Blue leather upholstery was also fitted along with a power reclining
front passenger seat with power head rest and foot rest.
Here's the complete list of equipment installed:
Gold Anodized Thunderbird Grille Emblem
Quartz Iodine Fog Lamps
Rover Ice Detector
Front Side Cornering Lamps (similar to 1966-67 Mercury)
Thin-Band White Side Wall Tires
Color-Keyed Simulated Mag Wheel Covers with Chrome Lug Nuts
Gold Anodized Simulated S-Bars
Gold Anodized Thunderbird Script on rear quarter panels
Chrome Door Jambs
Dark Blue SL Leather Interior Trim
Reclining Front Passenger Seat with Power Head Rest and Foot Rest
Front Seat Back Fold-Down Tables
Custom Center Floor Console with Safety-Convenience Control Panel
Apollo Blue Metallic Paint
Blue Metallic Vinyl Roof
Power Sun Roof
Dual Adjustable Rear Reading Lamps
Walnut Accents on Console, Seat Back Fold-Down Tables, and Rear Seat Package
Telephone with Deck Lid Antenna
Philco Television Set
Engraved Apollo Nameplate
plus virtually all 1967 Thunderbird regular production options