When Bill Heffron turned 70, his children found a way to really surprise him.
Unbeknownst to him, they located a 1964 Thunderbird convertible and had it redone to resemble one the family owned in the 1960s.
Heffron remembers there was a crowd of between 20 and 30 people at the birthday party nine years ago. He thought he would be getting a new dog for his birthday because one had recently died. Then his oldest son, Larry Heffron, asked him to go into the front room and sit down.
“Everybody was here, the kids and the grandkids, and when I came out it was parked there in the driveway,” Heffron says. “It was quite a shock.”
In 1966, Heffron purchased a used 1964 Thunderbird. He had a good friend in Albia who bought the car for his wife but wanted to get rid of it and eventually talked Heffron into taking it off his hands.
Heffron drove the Thunderbird for a little more than a decade before selling it. He remembers that his fifth son was born while the family had the car. Not long before the birth, his wife was driving on the square one day with the top down when she heard a guy whistling at her.
“Justine always laughed at that — she got a kick out of being whistled at when she was eight months along and he couldn’t see,” Heffron says.
The distinctive salmon coral color of the replacement Thunderbird is extremely close to the original color, he says. This one, though, is in a lot better shape than the previous one was when he sold it. For example, the first one had gone through an engine fire.
“They are kind of high-maintenance vehicles with electric motors in them that can go bad, but I haven’t had any trouble with this one,” he says.
Another difference is that the other car had a cover over the back seat that made it look like there was no back seat. The children used to enjoy crawling under the cover.
“That was before car seats and all of that,” he says with a laugh.
Heffron says he doesn’t drive the convertible a lot, but he does take it out once or twice a week in the summertime. When he does, he often gets reactions from young boys on bicycles.
“They think it’s a cool car,” he says.
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