My 1961 Thunderbird

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

Greg and Cheryl Chiminello with his 1961 Thunderbird outside his mother's house today and (inset) 30 years ago.
Greg and Cheryl Chiminello with his 1961 Thunderbird outside his mother's house today and (inset) 30 years ago.

Greg Chiminello traces his addiction to American cars to a Ford Mustang parked in the driveway of a childhood neighbour’s Cape Cod-style house. He spent many boyhood hours sitting on his front fence gazing at this scene. So when he first travelled overseas, in 1986, he chose America.

“I bought a bus ticket from Los Angeles to Miami,” he says. “On the bus I was flicking through Hemmings Motor News and saw a photograph of a starlight blue 1961 Thunderbird for sale. As I looked at it, that childhood memory flashed through my mind.”

The car’s owners, retired truck driver Marlin and his wife Patty, lived in Pasadena. “I rang from Miami and said I’d come by when I returned to California,” Greg recalls.

“When I arrived, Marlin opened the garage and I saw the Thunderbird’s beautiful lines and subtle colour, alongside their Lincoln Continental.

“I did the whole thing backwards, bought the car first then thought about how to get it home. Having to figure that out led to my starting an importing business. And Patty became a great friend.”

Twenty years later, Patty’s Lincoln Continental joined the Thunderbird in Melbourne. “She left me the Lincoln in her will.”

Photos: Shannon Morris


RACV provides specialist insurance for veteran, vintage and classic vehicles. Visit: racv.com.au/insurance for details.

Written by Tony Lupton
April 19, 2017