The '56 Thunderbird convertible was purchased by Clay Daily and his wife in 1964 on a used Ford car lot in San Bernardino, CA. It had been painted red and had 55,000 miles showing. A few years later the Dailys moved to Petaluma, CA. This where they had the car painted white.
In 1972, Clay's wife had the car parked in downtown Petaluma. When she returned to the car to go home, she found a piece of a brown paper bag on the windshield. Someone had written a note on the paper and asked if the car's owner would like to have the car in a movie. They left a telephone number and said to call if interested. The Dailys thought it was a joke, but they called anyway. To their surprise, it was Lucas Films and they wanted to use the car! The Dailys agreed and the T-Bird appeared in the movie. All of the night shots were done in downtown Petaluma, so Clay and his wife were able to watch some of them.
In 1998, American Graffiti was inducted into the "Hall of Fame" at San Bernardino's Route 66 Rendezvous, on the movie's 25th anniversary. The Rendevous organizers contacted the Dailys and asked if they would bring the car over for the induction. They did and were joined by Rick Figari and the yellow '32 Ford coupe, too. Two of the stars of the movie, Paul LeMat and Cindy Clark, were there to accept the induction plaque.
In 1999, the Dailys and the T-Bird were on the Leeza television show. The show was to have Suzanne Somers as a guest and wanted to surprise her with the car. During the segment filmed with Suzanne, Leeza had the Dailys in the audience and had them stand up. She asked Suzanne if she knew them. The answer was she didn't think so. Leeza then told Suzanne that the Dailys knew her and had a surprise for her. Everyone was asked to go outside the studio and when they were all there, Suzanne's husband drove up in the T-Bird. Suzanne was really surprised since she hadn't seen the car since the movie was filmed!
Clay and his wife still drive the car quite a bit. It now has a little over 300,000 miles and is still running strong. The Dailys belong to a Classic TB Club and do ten or so parades a year plus outings. Recently, they took the car on a 1000+ mile round trip to Carmel.
The '56 T-Bird, the '32 Ford coupe and the '55 Chevy were at a show in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, in England, on September 11 and 12, 2004 for the "Americ-Car Indoor American Car Spectacular." Thanks to Andy Inglis and Clay Daily for sending the pictures below!
A "Virtual" T-bird
Skip's tribute to the girl in the white Thunderbird (created using Poser 3D). Thanks for sharing, Skip!
Pages created by Kathy Schrock. 1996. Last update: 1/15/2012. All rights reserved.