LCOC members and their cars are receiving a cordial invitation from the Earlybirds and Thunderbirds of Southern California, to be the Honor Club for the 45th Annual Pageant of the Thunderbird to be held at La Palma Park in Anaheim on Saturday Sept. 14. All Lincolns and Continentals are eligible to participate. Each entrant will receive a goodie bag and the first 100 registrants will receive a free T-shirt. A trophy will be awarded to a selected Lincoln and Continental. This event has been a Southern California tradition for close to half a century. So plan on adding your name to SoCal car culture history by participating in this outstanding event.
Besides the Lincolns, all Thunderbirds from 1955 to 2005 may register. Trophies will be awarded in several classes. Click here for more information and to access a registration form.
At first glance it may seem odd for LCOC to be the Honor Club at a T’bird event. However, Lincolns and Thunderbirds are first cousins, having been manufactured on the same assembly line at Ford’s famous Wixom, MI, plant, often with similar or, in some cases, identical parts. More than 6 million cars were built there over the plant’s 50-year production life.
Wikipedia notes that the Wixom plant was one of Ford’s largest and oldest manufacturing sites. It opened April 15, 1957, and was ultimately expanded to encompass 4.7 million square feet, and replaced the former Lincoln Motor Company Plant located at 6200 West Warren Avenue (at Livernois). Over the plant’s 50 years of operation it produced 6,648,806 automobiles. The first car manufactured August 1, 1957 was the Lincoln Capri, and the last car produced was a white chocolate Lincoln Town Car which rolled off the line at 12:55 p.m. on May 31, 2007.
The plant was mainly used for the manufacture of Lincolns and the Ford Thunderbird. The Lincoln Town Car and the Ford GT were also produced there. Production of the Lincoln LS ended in early April 2006 and production of the Ford GT stopped on September 21, leaving the Town Car as the plant’s final Ford Motor Company product.
Wixom was the most profitable plant in the industry during the 1980s when Cadillac downsized its lineup and lost ground to Lincoln. Due to Lincoln’s falling sales, Ford announced on January 23, 2006 that the Wixom plant would be sold in 2007 as part of The Way Forward. Some analysts argued that the plant might not be closed. A report in The Oakland Press stated, “The fate of the Wixom plant, however, will depend on the shape of Ford’s future product plan, which seems to be currently in flux.” Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, reportedly offered $115 million in tax cuts to keep the plant open. The plant was nonetheless sold in 2007, and by mid-June 2008, while Ford was able to find buyers for other idled plants, Wixom remained unsold until 2008 buyout by General Motors.
A couple of alternative energy uses were announced, but none came to fruition. In 2012, Ford began tearing down the old plant. The next year the Baidas family, owners and operators of General RV Center, sought and were awarded mixed use zoning permits in an area nearby of the Wixom property. In 2014 the family broke ground on 33 acres near the old Ford Wixom property to build a new corporate headquarters and RV Dealership. A Menards outlet has also been built on the site.