It's reportedly the first time the two-seater, which has a black and white interior, a canvas convertible top and a detachable hardtop, has ever been featured at auction. It's expected to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000.
Developed as a response to the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, the Thunderbird debuted in late 1954 as a 1955 model and was branded as a "personal luxury car." It quickly overwhelmed Ford's expectations for customer demand. This example features the optional 312 cubic-inch V8 that would debut for 1956 with a Holley four-barrel carburetor generating 225 horsepower and sending it through a three-speed "Ford-O-Matic" automatic transmission. It also features power steering, brakes, windows and seats, plus the Continental kit featuring the spare tire mounted to the rear bumper. And dig the porthole window in the hardtop. The engine was reportedly rebuilt, and the odometer reads 30,399 miles.
Monroe was known to have led a troubled personal life, but she loved driving her T-Bird. She purchased it on Dec. 20, 1955, from Westport Motors in Westport, Conn., in the name of her corporation, Marilyn Monroe Productions, with reports suggesting it was a Christmas present from her business partner and photographer, Milton Greene. Monroe and Miller reportedly drove it to their civil wedding ceremony on June 28, 1956, and their private wedding two days later.
Monroe's ownership of the car ended in 1962, when she gave it as an 18th birthday gift to the son of her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, and his wife, Paula. It's believed the legal transfer took place just a few months before Monroe's death on Aug. 5, 1962.
The current owner is said to have documents establishing the car's authenticity — including documents from the state of Connecticut and a letter to Monroe from an insurance company — that came from Strasberg's estate. The owner said the car has received a frame-off restoration to its original appearance, courtesy of Prestige Thunderbird Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
"In recognition of the car's important provenance, special heed was given to the retention of original parts, with most driver and passenger touch surfaces left undisturbed," the unnamed current owner said in a statement.