When he was discharged from the Army in 1970, he learned restoring the Thunderbird would not be easy, nor would it come soon. Parts were scarce and tough to come by. There would be a family to raise and a life to live. In a moment of desperation, Alan put the 'Bird up on blocks and bought a 427 Corvette Stingray. It would be a long time before he would get back to the Thunderbird.
In 1999, Alan decided to revisit his T-bird. He blew off the dust and got after the rust, conceiving and building something he would affectionately name "Black Bird." The name had significant meaning for Alan. His father worked for Lockheed-California's Skunk Works during development of the SR-71 Black Bird spy plane. Ironically, both the SR-71 and the two-seat Thunderbird were developed around the same time. The SR-71 high-altitude spy plane came at a time when the Soviet threat was real, and the nation needed a super-fast reconnaissance aircraft to keep an eye on Moscow. Satellite spy technology ultimately made the SR-71 obsolete, mandating its retirement during the '90s. However, the SR-71's service record and performance cannot be underestimated. It served honorably for three decades.
Alan's urethane black Thunderbird serves him as honorably as the SR-71 served the free world. Black Bird keeps him free to chase what pleases him most-brute performance and raw speed. Alan's restoration remains faithful to the Thunderbird loyal because he didn't alter the body in any way. It retains the elements that make Thunderbirds breathtaking. Yet, it yields a pulse-quickening lean persona worthy of an "Engineered In Excellence" at the Hot Rod Happening in 2002. It has consistently won First Place and Best of Show awards around the Pacific Northwest as well.
To fully appreciate what Alan has done, you need to know more about his stroked 427 powerhouse. This is a mild-mannered, highly streetable 427 stroker fitted with a 428 crank for additional displacement from the 427 cross-bolt big-bore block. Topped with Edelbrock heads and induction along with an aggressive flat tappet hydraulic cam and good port matching, the 452 offers a unique combination of docile performance and all-out, balls-on snap at high rpm.
Alan's vintage Black Bird teaches us the exacting science of restomod because it is tasteful in every way. It retains the dynamic lines of the era while giving Alan the ride of his life-something he dreamed of in the jungles of Vietnam a lifetime ago.
1957-Was It Heaven?