UPDATE 11/19/18: Marilyn Monroe's Ford Thunderbird sold at auction last week for $490,000, almost reaching the Julien auction firm's top estimate of $500,000. That's not far from the most valuable Thunderbird ever sold: the first 'Bird to roll off the production line in 1954 sold for $660,000 at a Barrett-Jackson auction in 2009.
Of course Marilyn Monroe drove a Ford Thunderbird. It makes perfect sense. Ford's original, first-generation T-Bird roadster, which debuted for 1955 and was produced through 1957, was one of the sexiest cars of its time, and Monroe was the pre-eminent sex symbol. Today, both the T-Bird and the platinum-blonde movie star are among the most enduring pop icons of the '50s.
Specifically, Marilyn Monroe owned a Raven Black '56 T-Bird, and that car is now headed to auction this November as part of Julien's Auctions Icons & Idols: Hollywood. Monroe's ownership is documented, and according to information provided by the auction company, she bought the car in 1955, perhaps as a gift to herself on the release of The Seven Year Itch. Photos show Marilyn waving from the passenger seat with her husband at the time, playwright Arthur Miller, at the wheel, and the auction company reports that the pair drove the car to their wedding ceremony in 1956. In 1962, after owning the car for eight years, Monroe gave the T-Bird as a birthday present to Jason Strasberg, the son of director Lee Strasberg, who was also Monroe's acting coach. Monroe died in August of that year at age 36.
The car appears to be in excellent condition. Its black exterior is complemented by a black-and-white two-seat interior, period-correct wide whitewall tires, a black soft top, and a black hard top with a porthole window (which was new for '56). The pre-auction selling-price estimate is $300,000 to $500,000. That's against a current market value of $76,000 for a 1956 Thunderbird in #1 condition, according to the Hagerty Price Guide. That's a hefty celebrity premium, but for fans of the famous sex symbol and of 1950s pop culture more broadly, it doesn't get much better than this.
"Marilyn Monroe's 1956 Ford Thunderbird Sold for $490,000" (2018, November) Car and Driver. Retrieved from https://www.caranddriver.com/news/marilyn-monroe-ford-thunderbird-auction