Automotive Mileposts 1963 Thunderbird
"Monaco" Landau Event
An Introduction Like No Other!
1963 Ford Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau
The 1963 Ford Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as the "Principality of Monaco Landau", "Monaco Landau", or the "Princess Grace Landau" due to its splashy introduction held in Monaco in January 1963 during the Monte Carlo Road Rally.
Did you know?

Gambling is a major tourist attraction in Monaco. However, by law, residents are not permitted to gamble...that activity is reserved for tourists and visitors only!
Photograph of three Command Performance 1963 Ford models sent to Monaco for the festivities
Ford Command Performance advertisement
photographed in Monaco.

About The Principality of Monaco

Location: 18 kilometers (11 miles) East of Nice, France on the Mediterranean coast. It is the second-smallest independent state in the world, after Vatican City. The capital is Monaco-ville, population 1,151 (1990).

Area: The principality covers just 1.95 square kilometers (0.8 square miles), or roughly the size of Central Park in New York City.

Geography: The Principality of Monaco is surrounded on three sides by France, and is noted for its naturally beautiful scenery and mild, sunny Mediterranean climate. The terrain is hilly. Monaco is divided into four sections: Monaco-Ville (the old city built on a rocky promontory that extends into the Mediterranean), La Condamine (located along the port), Monte Carlo (the popular resort area which is also largely residential), and Fontvieille (built on 2.94 acres reclaimed from the sea).

Climate: The principality has an average temperature of 8 degrees Celsius (47 degrees Fahrenheit) in January and February; 26 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit) in July and August. Sunshine averages 7 hours per day, 300 days a year.

History: Originally founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa, Monaco was under French control from 1789 to 1814. Except for that period of time, the House of Grimaldi has ruled since 1297.

The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a 1911 constitutional promulgation. A treaty with the French was signed in July 1918 that provided some protection to Monaco, and ensured common political, military, and economic interests.

Prince Rainier III is the current ruler of Monaco, and has been since the death of his grandfather, Prince Louis II, in 1949. Prince Albert is the current heir apparent, and was born March 14, 1957 to Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (the Academy Award-winning actress Grace Kelly, married to Prince Rainier on April 18, 1956.)

On December 17, 1962, a new constitution was proclaimed that abolished capital punishment, established a Supreme Court, and provided for female suffrage. It was just after this that the Thunderbird became a part of Monaco's history...

The Party

Ford's involvement in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally was announced along with the Command Performance models at a grand party on January 3, 1963. To cover the festivities, 175 journalists were flown from Detroit to Monaco on the evening of January 2nd in two chartered planes.

The festivities began on January 3rd with a 10:00 a.m. audience with Princess Grace, and were hosted by Benson Ford. Lee Iacocca was in attendance, and the cost of the event was said to have been about $75,000. The International Premiere took place at the Monte Carlo Casino, and during the day all of the cars shipped to Monaco were on display there. Prince Rainier drove his new Thunderbird from the Grimaldi Family Palace to the Casino for the unveiling. On this same day, back home in Wixom production began on Limited Edition Landau cars number 2 to 2,000 and would continue until production of the 1963 Thunderbirds ended on July 17th.

1963 Thunderbird Limited Edition Landau brochure mailing envelopeBefore leaving Monaco, Ford's Marketing people saw to it that 900,000 special brochures announcing the Command Performance Fords were mailed out to potential customers in the United States. The brochures were printed with the red and white diamond theme designed for the Limited Edition Landau, and were enclosed along with a letter signed by Lee Iacocca in a red and white mailing envelope that repeated the diamond design in a crest. The envelope was designed to resemble Monaco's flag, which is red on top and white on the bottom, divided horizontally. Photos of the other Thunderbird models shipped over for the event and photographed in advance were also included in the Limited Edition Landau brochure. The pieces for this mailing were so elaborate that many people who received it originally have held on to it over the years, so they are available from time to time, although prices can vary greatly and condition and having all of the items originally included are the top factors determining price.

Monte Carlo Rally

1963 Monte Carlo Road Rally overhead viewFord executives determined that the Ford Falcons competing in the January 19th Rally would start in Monte Carlo, one of eight starting points that included Athens, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Lisbon, Paris, Stockholm, and Warsaw. Although the Rally started on a typically beautiful sunny day in Monte Carlo, the conditions changed for the worse quickly. Sections of the course have sharp twists and turns, making them dangerous in the best of weather, but winter conditions in Europe in January can be severe, and one of the Falcons skidded off the road on an icy corner south of France. A Falcon support vehicle was able to get the car back on the road, but a traffic jam due to ice covered roads in the town of Lodeve slowed all of the cars that left from Monte Carlo, and the Falcons were in line behind other Rally entries, causing one of the Falcons to be eliminated from the Rally due to being over an hour late for its next check point.

A tire blowout and a clutch failure created the need for one of the Falcons to be delayed while it was repaired, but the delay was costly in time, and it finished 43rd overall. The remaining Falcon, which did not suffer from so many problems, was able to finish 35th overall, and first in its class.
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