Bo "Gamen" Sandberg's 1959 Ford Thunderbird - Wild Bird

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1959 Ford Thunderbird owned and restyled by Bo "Gamen" Sandberg of Yankee Customs in Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden. After building a customized 1959 Ford Thunderbird named the "Surfin Bird," Bo began building a more radical Thunderbird custom called the "Wild Bird" in 1965. The first version of the Wild Bird was completed and debuted in 1966.
A construction photo of the Wild Bird that was taken in November of 1965. This and a couple more photos were published in Start & Speed No.2-1966.
Another Wild Bird construction photo from Start & Speed No.2-1966.
The Wild Bird version of Gamen's Thunderbird as it appeared in 1966. This photo was also published in Start & Speed No.2-1966.
A photo of Bo in the Wild Bird taken in April of 1966. Photo courtesy of Sven and Maude Sandberg, from Spoca.se.
A light green version of the Wild Bird was featured on the cover of Teknikens Värld 12/10 1966. The story referred to the car as "Sweden's Wildest Thunderbird."
The featured story on Gamen's Wild Bird from Teknikens Värld 12/10 1966.
A photo of the Wild Bird taken during the April 1967 Hot Rod Show. Photo by Ryde Brundin, courtesy of Maths Pålsson.
Photo by Ryde Brundin, courtesy of Maths Pålsson.
A construction photo of the Wild Bird taken at Flensvägen in Örby. When this photo was taken, the car was becoming The Deejays GTA Bord. Photo by Bert Kjellin.
A front end shot of the Deejays GTA version of Gamen's Thunderbird taken at the 1968 Hot Rod Show in Stockholm. Photo from the P.A. Flink Photo Collection.
Another photo of the "Deejays GTA" version from the 1968 Hot Rod Show in Stockholm. Photo courtesy of Sven and Maude Sandberg, from Spoca.se.
The "Deejays GTA" version of Bo's Thunderbird at the 1968 SPR.
Photo by Mal Hawkins.
In April of 2020, the Wild Bird finally returned to Stockholm and the Sandberg family, as it was sold to Sven Sandberg and his son Joakim. This photo shows the Wild Bird as it sat late in January of 2021. Photo courtesy of Sven Sandberg.
Photo courtesy of Sven Sandberg.
A photo of the newly painted Wild Bird, fresh out of the paint booth on November 12, 2023. Photo courtesy of Joakim Sandberg, from The WildBird Kustom Car Facebook Group.


1959 Ford Thunderbird owned and restyled by Bo "Gamen" Sandberg of Yankee Customs in Älvsjö, Stockholm, Sweden. After building a customized 1959 Ford Thunderbird named the "Surfin Bird," Bo began building a more radical Thunderbird custom called the "Wild Bird" in 1965. The Wild Bird build was based on a Thunderbird coupe that Gamen cut the roof off. He saved and chopped the part of the roof above the rear window, and an additional trunk lid from a 1959 Ford Thunderbird was flipped around and welded onto the body over the back seats. The old taillight housings on the flipped trunk lid were used to attach the headrests. Fiberglass GT chairs were placed lower and further back than the original. A flying console was installed between the front seats and the original console, and all the pieces around the dashboard were chromed. A 13-inch Covico steering wheel was installed to give more room for the driver. The rearview mirror was installed between the dual plexi windshields. The front end was heavily restyled and fit with two large air intakes. The front fenders that used to house the taillights were modified and fitted with directional lights. The taillights were moved down into the air intakes, and the air intakes on the hood were given the same treatment as the front fenders. Bo got help from several other custom car builders like Matti Johansson and Bo Kjellner when be built the car.[1] The suspension was lowered 5 cm.[2]


The first version of the "Wild Bird" was completed and debuted in 1966 and was shown along with some construction photos in Start & Speed No.2-1966. This version of the "Wild Bird" was painted silver flake over a white base. One Bright Red and one Royal Blue stripe was painted over the body from the front to the end. The stripes were also implemented in the seat and on the floor. A later version featured Rader wheels, dual windshields, and a taillight that spanned the car's width. According to the article in Start & Speed No.2-1966, the car was good for 300 horsepower, and the automatic transmission had a floor shifter.[1]


Repainted Light Green

A light green version of the Wild Bird was later featured on the cover of Teknikens Värld 12/10 1966. Presented as "Sweden's Wildest Thunderbird," Gamen had, according to the story in the magazine, spent two months and 25,000 SEK building the Wild Bird. Gamen told the writer that he had planned to sell the car to build a new custom, but he was afraid that nobody in Sweden would pay what the build had cost, and that he had to ship it to the US and sell it overseas. 26 - 30 of October 1966 the car was shown in Göteborg.[2]


The Deejays GTA Version

In 1968, The Deejays GTA version of Gamen's Thunderbird was shown at the Hot Rod Show. The same year, Bo also took it on a trip to England.


Sold

Later on, the car ended up with Kjell Pettersson in Upplands Väsby. In the late 1980s, Torgny Theodorsson in Askim bought the car and started an extensive restoration. Back then it was in a very rough condition. A full story on the Wild Bird was published in Wheels magazine No. 12/2007. The story featured photos from Torgny's renovation work.


The Wild Bird Returns to the Sandberg Family

In April of 2020, the car finally returned to Stockholm and the Sandberg family, as it was sold to Sven Sandberg and his son Joakim. Sven and Joakim continued the restoration that Torgny started, with intentions of finishing the custom in its initial white pearl with red and blue stripes look. The car was incomplete when they got it, but a 352 FE engine was located and set up with an Edelbrock 3-carb manifold. The engine was tuned by Inge Ellburg, a legendary Swedish Ford expert.


During the restoration, Sven performed extensive body and mechanical work while Joakim was busy finding rare parts from that era, like Rader wheels with spinners. Early in November of 2023, the car was ready for paint.


Magazine Features and Appearances

Start & Speed No.2-1966
Teknikens Värld 12/10 1966
Wheels Magazine No. 12/2007


References




 

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