Barrett-Jackson to Host Preview Days for Ford Tri-motor Airplane

The historic aircraft, which took fire during the World War II attack at Pearl Harbor, was recently restored to original specifications.


SCOTTSDALE, AZ – The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company will host a preview of the rare 1929 Ford 4-AT-E Tri-Motor airplane that is scheduled to sell at No Reserve during the 38th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, AZ, Jan. 11-18, 2009.

The preview is free to the public and will take place on Dec. 6 and 7 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Goldsboro Air Center inside Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport in Pikeville, NC. The historic aircraft, which took fire during the World War II attack at Pearl Harbor, was recently restored to original specifications and is one of only a handful of Ford Tri-Motor airplanes in existence.

"Because so few of Ford’s marvelous Tri-Motor airplanes still exist, this is a rare opportunity to see such an important and historic aircraft," says Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. "This particular aircraft survived being shot by enemy aircraft and the perils of fighting fires in Montana. This might be the last chance to see an icon of an important period in American history before it goes into a private collection."

The Tri-Motor entered production after World War I, when Henry Ford recognized the potential for mass air transportation. Ford Motor Company built 199 Tri-Motors from 1926 through 1933.

The Tri-Motor that will be sold at Barrett-Jackson began its journey in 1929 in Spokane, WA, where it served as a passenger plane for Mamer Flying Service. It was later sold to K-T Flying Service of Honolulu and was at Pearl Harbor during the surprise strike by the Japanese navy on Dec. 7, 1941. The Tri-Motor suffered exterior bullet holes during the attack but was quickly repaired and returned to service.

The plane was leased by Trans World Airlines in 1949 for its 20th anniversary celebration, modified into a sprayer and fire fighting tanker and used by Johnson Flying Service in Montana to drop smoke jumpers and supplies to fire fighters. Since 1969, the plane has been privately owned and was part of the Wings and Wheels museum collection previously located in Orlando, FL.

Bob Woods supervised the majority of the Tri-Motor’s restoration in Goldsboro. During the restoration, the airframe was reworked, a new interior installed and the exterior completely re-skinned. The landing gear is complete and original as are the straight-laced wire wheels. To match the condition of the plane when it was delivered in 1929, no modern avionics or communications gear were added.

The plane will be sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction on Saturday, Jan. 17, during SPEED’s primetime coverage.

"The world comes to Barrett-Jackson events to celebrate their passion with fellow enthusiasts, and this is the forerunner to our January 2009 Scottsdale event," says Davis. "Since the plane will not physically cross the block in Scottsdale, the open house will allow bidders to inspect the Tri-Motor in person before the sale. And for two days, a bit of the Barrett-Jackson excitement will make imaginations soar as people revel in the aircraft’s presence and dream of taking it home."

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