Archived Facts, Rumors, and other Tidbits
For those of you who can make it, a Thunderbird concept car will be at the San Jose Auto Show January 5-9. I should note that this is the concept car, not the production version I've been waiting for news on. But, for those of you who want to go see it, there ya go. I won't mention that I'm one of those people who steadfastly hold that 1/1/01 is the start of the 21st century, and not what the auto show's web page claims. (Source: Timothy H., 12/30/99)
Oh, in that case. On the 15th of this month, I wrote that one of my concerns about the Thunderbird was sinking a ton of money into a car. Well, today, after getting my oil changed at the local dealership, and wandering around the lot, I've got a bit of a different point of view. All the cars that I would even remotely consider buying were over $25,000. I couldn't believe it! So that extra couple of thousand that it'll take to buy a Thunderbird doesn't seem nearly as much now. On a side note, they had a lot of the new Focus on the lot, right next to the car it's replacing, the Escort. And I was actually surprised. The Focus appears to be a larger car! More head room at least, and it looked like it had the same wheelbase. If I were shopping for an economy car, I'd definitely give it more than a couple glances. (12/29/99)
Merry Christmas everybody! The LA Auto Show now lists the production and concept vehicles that will be shown at the show. So far, it looks very skimpy for the Ford / Lincoln / Mercury brands. No production cars or trucks (so no Thunderbird) and only four concepts, all based on current vehicles: Mustang, Excursion, LS, and Mountaineer. Unless they're hiding it for a surprise, it looks like the Thunderbird won't be appearing until the Detroit Auto Show. But, I can't find any information that it'll be there either! So where it'll be? Only Ford knows! (12/25/99)
Okay, so I lied. Well, not lied, more like I spoke too soon. I probably will not be attending the LA Auto Show like I mentioned yesterday. Why? Well, I wanted to check to see if they list the Thunderbird as one of the vehicles that will be shown or introduced. Then I saw the dates of the show, January 8th through the 16th. My girlfriend will be visiting all that week, so the only chance I'll have will be on Sunday, and I will probably be much too tired from showing her around Southern California to drive all the way down to the convention center. Last time I did it was a real big pain in the neck. So sorry to get your hopes up! Maybe I can convince a friend to drive, or someone will be kind enough to send in some pictures. And honestly, I have to admit that the car is becoming less of a need for me. It's a lot of money to sink into a car that might be better spent elsewhere. I'll have to see. (12/15/99)
No real new information today, just a friendly reminder that it will be quiet for a little bit longer. I intend to go to the LA Auto Show in early January to get a first hand glimpse of the production version of the Thunderbird, so will have pictures very soon after that! At least I HOPE it'll be a the auto show. I remember something about it a while back, but I'm being too lazy to look right now. I'll use the 35mm instead of APX so I can use the 1 hour photo places. (12/14/99)
OooOOOoo... interesting! In this story from the Detroit News that was the lead today, they review some of the sporty cars that are coming out in the near future. Of course, the Thunderbird is among them. What's so interesting is what type of transmission they say is going to be in it: a five speed SelectShift automatic. If I'm not mistaken, that's the one that's optional on the LS and allows you to manually shift the transmission up and down gears. I also remember reading somewhere that this SelectShift, if engaged, will allow you to red line your engine and leave little pieces of it bouncing down the road, instead of shifting for you if you start to abuse the car. So some instruction will be needed for those friends and family that want to drive your nifty new toy. (Source: Detroit News article, 12/1/99)
Some of you may have heard by now, but the Lincoln LS was announced as Motor Trend's Car of the Year. This is good news for those of you who have faith in MT's abilities to pick cars, but a while back I read an article written by someone who was part of the advertising for one of the cars picked. He mentioned that it's a really big dog and pony show to get Motor Trend to pick a particular car. So, I take it with a grain of salt, but I'm sure other's will declare it as mana. Have your own opinion, and go here for Motor Trend's online page of the awards. (Source: BayMudd, 11/26/99)
Hello all! Sorry to have not updated this site in so long, and I'm really, VERY sorry to all the people who have emailed me and not yet received a response. I've been very busy (and I will respond!) and the news on the Thunderbird has been quiet. That may be due to the production version that should be showing up this January at car shows! Ford may be keeping quiet while they get prepared. Pure speculation on my part, but there you have it. And during the holidays, you might not see a lot of updates here either. But don't worry! Things will really be picking up next year! For those of you interested in a little of what I've been up to, go to this website that holds all my trip pictures! (11/23/99)
Been really busy with my trip's website, so haven't had time to update. But, this was too good a rumor not to keep! Ford is CANCELLING the Thunderbird! That is, if you believe the parts department at Stevie N's local dealership. They said that their sales department got word that it was going to be too expensive to produce. And of course, if this were true, we all know that Ford would just increase the price. So, calm down, it's just a silly rumor with probably no basis in fact. You know how these things go at work. Myself, I start plenty of rumors. Try to do one a day, just for exercise. Also, Ford has a new survey up asking about the production version, so I'd assume that they're still planning to go to production. To participate, go here, then click the little circled arrow in the upper left, then click on survey. (Sources: Stevie N, Lin S. 11/5/99)
Well, I'm back! Had a very nice trip to Japan, and for those interested, I'll have a website on Geocities with the pictures from my trip, so I'll post that info when it comes online. But, while I was gone, everybody was so kind to fill up the ol' emailbox with some great screen shots from the Car and Driver TV show that showed the T-Bird front end being tested, and some other info too! You can see the spy shot here. As you can see, it has two hood scoops on it, but those may just be camouflage. I figure that they are testing the air intake at the front grill, so put the scoops on to disguise it. Still, you never know. Guess that gives the aftermarket people one idea for a front treatment. Plus, got word from two different people that they have found dealers that have already accepted deposits for their allotted amount of Thunderbirds, which goes against what the corporate headquarters recommended. Even got a report of no interest being added to those deposits. Finally, got some info on the painting of the Thunderbirds, which is the same (of course) as the LS. Over the base coat, a 1K clear coat is applied, then an automatic sanding machine wet sands the coat, and then a coat of 2K clear is applied, thus providing high shine with less "orange peel". It has to be handled differently from regular clear coat, so some untrained detailers and owners are ruining the paint job. Wonder if any LS people out there have some words from Ford on how to properly treat the paint, so we can all get it squeezed into our heads early! (Sources: BayMudd, Eric, Jeffery S., Roy S., and Autoint, 10/30/99)
I missed it, but maybe it hasn't played at your TV yet. Well, probably has. Eric H. reports that the 10/11 Car and Driver Television showed a spy shot of the Thunderbird front end being tested on an LS platform. With two intake scoops, too. They may have just been disguise, but no telling at this point. If anybody finds or has a screen shot, I'd like to post it! Also, if you're interested and living in Southern California, you can enter to win a Lincoln LS here, along with some other prizes. Finally, this may be the last update for at least a week, maybe two. Going on a trip, so don't know when I'll be checking email next. (Source: Eric H., 10/18/99)
Got a rumor from Kristin M., who was talking with someone from Ford. The employee stated that the Thunderbird would be an anniversary edition with a limited production run of 10,000 units, with the following year's run reaching 20,000 units. I tend to dismiss this rumor, since what anniversary would it be? The 46th anniversary edition?! I don't think so. So I bet that this was just a chain yank by the employee. (Source: Kristin M., 10/13/99)
I'm a bit late on this report, as Blue Oval News posted it on October 8. Anyway, the general info is that the Thunderbird will get the same V-8 engine that the Jaguar S-Type and Lincoln LS both have, and only a small fraction of budget allocated to the Thunderbird specifically. (10/11/99)
As you can tell from the top picture, I've received pics of the black Thunderbird! Just click on the black bird to see more pictures! But a warning! It's about a full 1 meg of pictures, so it'll take a little while to load up! Thanks to Dieter M. who emailed them to me. He took them at the Frankfurt IAA-99. I know many people are gonna thank you! (10/4/99)
Rodrigo P. reports that this upcoming Car and Driver Television show will highlight three of Ford's products, the Lincoln LS, the Thunderbird, and the Excursion. He says that the Thunderbird portion will look at the past, present, and future of the brand. Sounds like an interesting watch! (9/27/99)
Couple of things to talk about. First, Tim M. reports that Consumer Reports has rated the new Lincoln LS in the October issue as "The best American automobile they've ever tested". Looks like I'll have to pick up that one! Means good things for our favorite upcoming sport car! Next, interesting Thunderbird news! Frank M. sent a copy of a memo written by Jim O'Connor (Ford President) to all the Ford dealers dated 9/16/99. The title is "Combat", and it discusses how the Thunderbird brand is important and the coming months should be handled appropriately. To this effect, here are a couple of quotes.
"Production will be limited and no dealer should assume he or she will receive a significant allocation of vehicles. Allocations will not be affected by the number of orders dealers have taken."
The way I interpret that is that they are going to stick to the number of cars they decide to build, and let a lot of people who want the car just be out of luck. Seems a little foolish, wouldn't you want to sell as many as you could?
"...dealers should not accept deposits from customers."
Even though some have started already anyway. It says they can take names, and generate a contact list for later use, but that should be the extent of their preorder work for now. (9/22/99, Updated 9/2799 to include credit)
Thanks to Lin Somsak who notified me that in the September/October issue of EarlyBird, the member magazine of Classic Thunderbird Club International, John Smith has written an article about the Thunderbird prototype. Also, Lin says to not worry about the Ford media website. It's not that informative. Course, I wasn't expecting blue prints there anyway. So, I've put the factoids sent under the regular car's facts for everyone to enjoy. (Source: Lin Somsak, EarlyBird Magazine, 9/18/99)
On a whim, I tried to sign up for media access to Ford's media website. Note the key word here is "tried". This is a portion of the reply I got:
"We are sorry, but we are unable to grant you access to media.ford.com, which is reserved to members of the print and broadcast media. Another reason, in particular, is that we are bound by legal agreements with our creative contractors to restrict photography, graphics and other visuals to news media only. If you are a freelance journalist, please advise with the names of the media outlet(s) you serve."
Okay, but since Blue Oval News had access, how did they qualify and I not? Not that it really matters, since I figured they wouldn't let me have access anyway after all the trouble BON went through. But I find it amusing that only "print and broadcast media" qualify to use their non-printed and non-broadcasted website. Also, moved older info to the Birdnest. (9/16/99)
Let the races begin! Jim reports from a dealer meeting that there are more deposits for the Thunderbird than planned production. Don't know if Ford will up production numbers, so looks like we'll have Miata Syndrome come November 2000. (9/11/99)
Dot Lang reports that there may be three concept cars out there now. In talking with a friend, a Ford rep said that the red car was still out on the circuit (the yellow car was with the Ford rep). So, that means that either the red car has been painted without the rep knowing, or he was referring to it as red even though it had been painted, or that there really is a third car out there. Blue Oval News reported a while back that test mules would be produced at the end of summer, so I can believe that there may be more than the first two concept cars. (9/10/99)
Blue Oval News has won out for now. I'm sure Ford will be keeping a close eye for another opportunity. The link above should work, and you can read all the info there. I had a good weekend, thanks for asking! Also, the red prototype is on the cover of the October Motor Trend. It's their annual look at this and next year's new models. No new news really in it however, and the car is on page 74 for those of you sneaking peaks at your local newsstand. Finally, Dot Lang reports that a friend was at the Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey, CA where she saw one of the prototypes painted black with red interior. She didn't get any pictures, as she is not a Ford enthusiast. So, if you did go to this and have pictures, everybody would sing your praises if you could scan them in for us! (9/8/99)
Just so you don't keep visiting over the weekend, I will be busy until Tuesday night with relatives coming to visit and will probably not have any updates this weekend. So, don't waste time checking back here until the middle of next week! (9/2/99)
Blue Oval News was completely offline per court order, but recently reversed the court order. Also, Roy S. reports that the Blue Oval News lawsuit made today's Wall Street Journal front page. No direct link, sorry! (8/30/99)
Blue Oval News has gone completely white. Don't know if this is because of some new court order or what, but can't seem to get any useful pages up. There was another Detroit News article on the entire situation on Friday. (8/29/99)
After my update tonight, I found another Ford website that has a similar view of what Blue Oval News did. You can read FordNews.com's response here. Please note that FNC, as the first link says, will be down until 9/1/99. Next, Motor Trend has the LS as it's lead online article for September. Read it here. (8/26/99)
A bit of news tonight. Pete M. reports that the September issue of Road and Track came with an advertising supplement for the LS and has a road test of the car inside. I'm going tomorrow to see if the supplement is included in the newsstand version as well. I certainly hope that the Thunderbird PR people take note of all of this. Well, maybe not. I'd hate to have it hyped so much that it becomes a problem. Also, you can read the Detroit News' article on the Blue Oval News lawsuit here. I may get some hate mail, but I think Ford is in the right here. Reporting is one thing, publishing is another, and this "free speech" rhetoric sounds, well, hollow. But that's just my two cents, less taxes, user fees, and charges. Finally, the past two days I've received 5 times the traffic I normally do. Usually means I've been linked by a popular website. If this is your first time here, and you followed a link, could you send me an email? (firstname.lastname@example.org) Thanks! (8/26/99)
Blue Oval News is being sued by Ford for "conversion of Ford property", "infringement of Ford's trademarks and copyrights", and "interference with Ford contractual relations with its employees". I can see the first two, but contractual interference? You can read the lawsuit here, and Blue Oval News' temporary address is http://184.108.40.206/. Might take a peek or two in case they get locked up tight. (8/24/99)
Ford has updated their website! Click the link here or at the top to go to it. They've got a longer survey, and a form to put your email address in to get updates. Put it in now so you can get some of the stuff that they'll put out, hopefully as well as the Lincoln has been. Also, Blue Oval News' temporary address is http://220.127.116.11/. (Source: TBS 8/20/99)
Getting some minor updates done since I've finally found some time. First, Dot Lang's website of Thunderbird models has some new additions. Read about them here. There's a red version coming out soon in limited quantities. Also, I'm told by Pete M. that the August 1999 Car and Driver on page 37 has an article about a possible Jaguar roadster based off the Thunderbird. A normal link to the article doesn't work, so you have to click on "News" then the article. If you're reading this several months from now, it probably won't show up. (8/19/99)
No real news, so just wanted put up a new date showing that. Blue Oval News is going through some site changes so some of the links may not work. (8/14/99)
There has not been any news to report really, and since I've been busy, this site hasn't been updated. However, I did run across something that by beating on it hard, can bend it into Thunderbird news. In this article from the Detroit News, they discuss that the V-8 has been the engine of choice for so many Lincoln LS's that they've had to shut down the Wixom plant while new engine cases are shipped. How this could be good news is that the more V-8s they sell, the less expensive an engine it becomes, and therefore might lower the price of the T-Birds a few dollars. Told you it wasn't much. (8/5/99)
Two things to report, one official the other unofficial. First, Got yet another piece of Lincoln LS advertising. And yes it's another little book. I am very curious on how big the LS's advertising budget is compared to say the Mustang or Cougar. They seem to be putting a lot of effort into, so kudos to any Lincoln ad people reading! It's offering a test drive, and since I'm going to visit home, I'll see if I can get one through the dealer I'll be buying my T-Bird from.
Second, as only a few of you responded, I give up on my aftermarket question I sent out on 6/10. So without further delay, here are the results! The suggestions were: tonneau cover and wire wheels (from John C.), wide tires with fender flares and onboard GPS (from Stephen G.), Continental spare tire kit and bench seating (from Preston R.), and finally fuzzy dice and spotlights (from Roy S.). Yes, Roy, I know you were just kidding, but seeing as I got a whopping three serious responses, I figure I'd throw yours in as well. Anyway, that's what I've received. Nobody liked my idea of fender skirts. Fine, be that way. See if I care! Har har. (7/19/99)
Got a minor correction to make, via Dot Lang. The people with the concept car at the CTCI Regional were two employees of the company that built the concept car and then one from the Ford design studio. Dot says that Ford contracts out the building of the concept cars. I find that very interesting. I'd think you'd want the people designing these things to have to actually build it. *shrug* (7/18/99)
Got an email tonight from Dot Lang who attended the CTCI Regional Convention in Wichita, Kansas over the 4th of July weekend. Dot reports that the concept car was there, along with two Ford employees and one from the Ford design studio. There are currently two concept cars out there, one in yellow and the other in red. Sometime this summer they will be repainted in black and teal so we'll get to actually see how they look. You can see Dot's pictures of the car here.
Read the Blue Oval News article here that announces Job1 date for the 2001 Ford Thunderbird: November 2000. You'll be able to drive around your new Bird during that holiday season if you're lucky enough to get on the list. Wouldn't it have made more sense to have a convertible start to be delivered in early spring? It just seems strange to me to have a car with such a sunny disposition be delivered at the start of winter. I haven't any word on when Ford dealers will now be accepting orders, but I imagine it's very soon now that the delivery date has been set. Also of note, they believe the Thunderbird will get a power boost in the middle of the 2002 production run. I'm not going to wait a year and a half on speculation. I'm sure it'll occur, but by then I might not have the chance to buy it anyway. Besides, I'm sure some aftermarket items will appear to help boost the standard engine's power. (7/16/99)
Blue Oval News is reporting that the Thunderbird has been given the go for Job1. They'll be posting the news at around 12:00 Central. I'll have a blurb and a link when they do, but you can go directly there at the link above to beat me to it. (7/15/99)
For active readers of this site, you probably won't be too interested in today's update. Got the August 1999 issue of Motor Trend which has quite a few articles on high end and luxury cars. While they mention Lincoln in the opening sentence on page 66, their "Elements of Luxury", they don't compare any vehicle from Lincoln with the five luxury cars they do compare. Course, they don't include BMW or Mercedes after mentioning them either, so don't know if Lincoln owners should be miffed or not. Especially since they do dedicate an entire article to the LS starting on page 94. But the article doesn't really say a lot that we haven't already heard anyway. So if you are not a regular reader of this site, you might want to check it out if you missed earlier articles. (7/13/99)
Although it seems to almost be a re-run of an earlier story, I think it may have some useful info. The article in the Detroit News mentions what I'd consider a competitor, the Honda S2000. It's a two seater like the new Bird, with 240 HP. I'd speculate that it's much lighter than the Thunderbird, so I'd hope Ford wouldn't EVEN consider doing less horsepower than 260 HP. Then on the other hand, Ford is really looking for nostalgia buyers, so may not play the HP arms race with the Thunderbird. It would be a pity if they decided not to boost the power for that reason.
On a side note, I pulled everything off my website to clean up my webpages and such, and put everything back. However, if I've missed adding back a picture, please tell me! Be aware though that some of the links in the Birdnest I know to be bad, but that's not on my end. I may eventually get around to putting a little "bad" note next to each of them. (7/7/99)
Okay, if Stephen G.'s sources are correct, and that all the 1955-57 colors will be available, then here are the colors. A few notes about the picture. Raven Black was offered all three years, and Colonial White was also offered in '57. I've left them off since they'd been shown once already. The solid black lines delineate the years starting with '55 at the top. Thanks go out to John Draxler and his Thunderbird Ranch for the scans of the paint samples. Also, Blue Oval News is reporting that Thunderbird test vehicles will be produced at the end of summer. That means we should have some magazine spy shots by August or September! (Source: J. Draxler, 6/26/99)
Things just got really strange. I received some more weird promotional items from Lincoln on the LS. It's another mini-book, with sequentially increasing in number cutouts on the pages down to the end where it has samples of the interior materials used on the car. It has a slogan: "Luxury is 93% intangible. Lincoln LS". Ooookay. But that's not the really weird part. I didn't get it through the mail. A couple about three blocks away did. In a cigarette promotional sports bag. In a sealed box. Maybe Lincoln's next ad trick will be to assemble a complete working 1/4 scale replica of the car in my apartment while I'm at work. I just hope they haven't installed any hidden cameras.
Also, Stephen G., surprised that I had time to put his info up here (hint: I have no life), has some additional information in his conversation with his dealer. It's actually quite common that dealers trade their allocations with each other, say one dealer who sells a lot of trucks trading their small car allocation to a metro area that sells more of them than trucks. Next, the dealer mentioned that the Thunderbird would be sold in every color that was available for the 1955-57 model year Birds, both interior and exterior. From the Thunderbird Heritage site, it says the 1955 came in Thunderbird Blue, Raven Black, Snowshoe White, Goldenrod Yellow, and Torch Red with the interior matching the exterior in vinyl. Hope Ford follows with what they put in the concept car. Goldenrod Yellow leather would seem a bit disgusting. I haven't found the '56 and '57 colors, so if you know them, or can point me somewhere that has the info, I'd appreciate it! The dealer salesmen hadn't heard about any higher horsepower engine being planned for the T-Bird, but one was going to wait until the second year models just in case. (Source: Stephen G., 6/22/99)
Some miscellaneous tidbits from here and there. First, I received an email from Stephen G. who was talking to his dealer. Stephen says the dealer may have been blowing smoke, but reports that every Ford dealer would be allocated 10 Thunderbirds each, for a total production run of 40,000. That seems a little far fetched to me. Can small dealerships trade their allocations? I can't imagine some dealer in a town of 4000 with 10 Birds rotting on the lot. He also reports that the dealer expected to be able to place orders in the July/August time frame of 2000, with deliveries in January 2001. Take it for what you will.
Next, Jon Lomas, a business student is conducting a survey of prospective Thunderbird owners. He'd posted the site on another site dedicated to fanatics of the 89-97 model T-Birds, so I think his results may be a little skewed. Anyway, if you want to participate, the survey is here.
Blue Oval News has stated that one of their sources says that the Thunderbird may get a higher horsepower engine than the LS's V-8. While this is good, I'll believe it when I see Ford print the specs on the vehicle. Still, it's fun to imagine cruising around with close to 300 horses under the hood. Anybody know what the Mustang Cobra tops out at straight from the factory floor? I haven't had time to check that out yet.
Finally, not a lot of you responded about my question on what aftermarket items you'd add to your Thunderbird. Most of you who did bashed my fender skirts. Oh well. So the world thinks I have bad taste. :) John C. sent in what I thought were two really good ideas: a tonneau cover and wire spoke wheels. I'd still like to see more ideas! (6/21/99)
Just got back from the local Lincoln dealership, Shuttle Lincoln Mercury here in the Antelope Valley. They were advertising that they had the LS's in stock, so I decided it was about time to check them out personally from the viewpoint of someone looking forward to the Thunderbird. Since this will be a rather long entry, I've moved some stuff on the bottom off the page to the Birdnest.
First off, I did not drive the LS. I can imagine that the salespeople were a bit unenthusiastic due to my appearing 5 years younger than my 25 years I really am, coming in to look at a $40,000 vehicle. Frankly, I'd be an unenthusiastic salesman too, regardless of my ability to purchase one of these cars today (I didn't mention that I've almost saved up enough for one). While I didn't actually ask for a test drive, I wasn't offered one either. I didn't really go in there to drive one anyway (yeah, yeah, sour grapes you say, suffer I say). They tell me it drives like a charm. Or the one sales guy that had driven and allowed the others to ride along said so. The others could only say it rode well. So this will be a more of a functional evaluation rather than a driving experience.
For those of you that have Thunderbirds already, and know the many joys of changing the oil filter, good news: It's at the bottom of the car and easily accessible. I was able to get my hand all the way around it without any trouble. For those of you without the later model Birds, the oil filter on them is scrunched between the engine and the wheel box, and is horrible to remove. I finally gave up and let the oil change shops handle the hassle whenever I get my oil changed. Back to the LS, there is one drawback. The car is so low to the ground, I wouldn't fit underneath far enough to make it totally easy, and I'm scrawny. But that's easily fixed by just running it up on some stands or a curb.
Next up, under the hood. For those of you with the Maisto Thunderbird model, please grab yours and follow along. Others, please remember to bring the proper materials to class next time. Also, a flashlight will come in handy, as will removing the model from the base. First, turn the car over. Working from the front, you'll see a cover running from the front to the first piece of suspension structure. This is a cheap piece of plastic on the LS. Then you have the beam, then a little sideways canister. This is the oil filter. I'm a bit concerned about having it cantilevered off the side like it is, but I imagine they've designed for the vibration. I couldn't squeeze underneath very far, and also forgot to look for the oil drain plug. I'm sure it's there somewhere. After that, I believe is the oil pan, but I'm not sure. After that, you have another structural suspension beam. This stuck in my mind because it was an unpainted gray aluminum piece. The strange curvy piece coming off the wheels is also unpainted aluminum.
At this time class, please turn the model over and pop the hood. What you see is nearly identical with the LS8 that they had open for inspection. The major difference that I can tell is the headlights. The LS has different ones, so the layout in these areas is a little different. I had to ask what the little levels on the headlamps were for. Well, they're for leveling the headlamps. Who would have thought that? The piece of plastic that seems to be covering the radiator and fan is in fact a piece of plastic covering the radiator and fan. I couldn't even see the fan or the fan belts. I could see pieces of the belt, so can only imagine the nightmare if you ever had to replace one of these yourself. The plastic cover was held down by little plastic expansion screws. I took one out, but that was as far as my dismantling of the car went. On the drivers side just forward of the plastic cover is the air filter. Two snaps at the top and it's ready to be pulled out. Sort of. It's a very tight squeeze, and I didn't try to force it very hard. I saw the air filter, and was satisfied at that.
The fluid containers were readily accessible from just popping the hood. Underneath the model's little hood stick (this is not actually on the LS, it has pneumatics on either side of the hood), is the power steering fill tube. On the opposite side, you'll see something very similar. This is the fan coolant. Forward of that fill tube is the anti-lock system with several tubes attached, and the windshield washing fluid container is in front of that. It's embedded down deep within the chassis, and I don't know how hard it would be to service should it spring a leak. On the air intake tube system (attached to the air filter) is a small tube like object. I don't know what it's for, but it has a "Qualified Service Personnel Only" indicator on it. This indicator was on the power steering and the fan coolant fill tubes. The radiator fill tube was just above the radiator location. I don't really see that shown on the model. At the back of the engine compartment where the model's hood stick is attached is the brake fluid fill tube. On the other side of the small stick, is the oil fill tube attached to the engine. If you drew a straight line from the oil tube to the power steering tube, in the middle would be the oil dipstick. It's not shown on the model, but I figured you'd like to know where it was. And since this is the best place to discuss it, the fuse box was on the passenger side, just behind the headlight. It was easy to open, as it should be.
Now we're going to examine the interior, yet again looking at the model. I got the impression sitting in it that it was a bit smaller up front than my Thunderbird. When I opened the glove box (panel), it hit my knees. It occurred to me after I got home that I could have moved the seat back. I didn't try, but they'd let the battery die (or nothing worked with the key out). The trunk button on the console didn't work, so I figure the battery was dead.
The instrument panel and center console are laid out exactly as shown. On the left side of the steering wheel, you have light switch, interior dimmer switch, and then the power mirror buttons. The mirrors will be a bit hard to adjust while driving, as they are the closest to the steering column. The ignition key is on the right side of the panel (not on the steering column). The center console has the cassette/CD player above the environment controls. The CD itself is inside the glove box. However, "box" is probably a bad word to describe it. It's more of a flat panel with a small amount of space. I doubt that you could get an ice scraper in there at all. But, you're buying a convertible, why would you need an ice scraper in Southern California? Okay, okay, you can stop lobbing snowballs at me from the north. On the floor, there was a left foot rest for the driver. I tapped it a couple times with my foot, and it seems to be yet another bit of cheap plastic.
On the middle console between the seats you have the gear shift (naturally). Just behind that on the model, you'll see a little rectangular panel. This covers up the cup holders. I found opening it a little awkward. It kinda moves up, then rotates, with the cup holders rising up out of the console. And the reverse motion to close it. After a little practice, I think I could get the hang of it while driving, but I'd be swerving a lot before then. They are forward/aft located, and maybe a half inch separates them. Great if you're drinking from a small water bottle or a 12 oz. can, but anything bigger looks like it won't fit. No 72 oz. drinks in the holders. I'm not even sure about coffee mugs, but I could be mistaken. The armrest holds a container box, much like the Thunderbirds do now. However, it seemed really cheaply done. You just lift if up. No button to press, no levers, no secret three number combination. Seems wrong somehow to have such a simple opening method, but I'm not really sure why. One thing to note, a set of speaker grills were on either side at the front of the middle console, and probably were located in the center console. That was a bit strange in my opinion, but I'm not an expert on sound systems, so it may be quite common.
The trunk held the battery under, yup, you guessed it, a rather cheap looking piece of flooring. I didn't actually get to mess with it, but that was my impression. I forget whether the spare tire was a mini or full sized, but that's a minor over sight on my part. The trunk looked spacious and adequate for my needs. The sticker also said that it had 60/40 fold down rear seats, but I was stumped at how to do it. Probably there was some release in the trunk, but by that time it was closed and the salesman had wandered off.
And now for some specific things about the LS which I doubt will make it to the Thunderbird. The front seatbelts were height adjustable and mounted on the center pillar. Since the Bird has no center pillar, I don't know if the Thunderbird's will be height adjustable. It doesn't appear so from the model. Next, on the doors of the LS, they had what could be considered pockets. I'm used to the rigid pockets on my Thunderbird. The LS had an elastic leather bag attached to the door. While it wouldn't have been my choice, I don't see anything really wrong with it. The model doesn't have any such provisions at all, so no telling what will appear on the production version.
All in all, the LS looks like a good car, which hopefully means that the Thunderbird will be a good car. The salesman didn't seem too keen on discussing the issue, since he only sold Lincoln and Mercury vehicles (the Ford dealer is next door). So I let the issue drop. That may have been one of his aversions to discussing things with me, since I let it be known at the beginning that it was my intention to buy a Thunderbird and not an LS. So if you plan on going in and looking at an LS to see the Thunderbird similarities, I'd suggest leaving out that part. Dishonest? Yeah ,maybe. Just say you came to look at the LS and leave it at that. So, with that, class dismissed! (6/13/99)
Yet another positive Lincoln LS article, from USA Today. I imagine that there will be a fair amount of press coverage of the Lincoln, so this will seem like an LS website for a while. However, I feel any news on the LS's handling or powertrain is relevant to the T-Bird. Also, I've been turning an idea over in my mind quite a while. When I do get my new 'Bird, what aftermarket products will be available? I figure sound systems would be high on a lot of people's lists, but I prefer not to replace things in the dash. I hope that some engine components will make the shops; I'd like to try to squeeze some more horses out of it. I also pondered what the Thunderbird would look like with rear fender skirts. It's an idea. And email me yours! I'd like to see what ideas have been going through your mind. (Source: T. Firmand, 6/10/99)
Blue Oval News is reporting that the Thunderbird has developmental delays. *shrug* I dunno exactly what that means either. However, they also say that they've got a picture of DEW-98 prototype vehicles being tested until death. Don't know if it'll be the LS, the S-Type, or the Bird. Guess we'll have to wait and see! (6/7/99)
Here's another LS article which is VERY positive! It convinced the testers that the LS was a better vehicle overall than ALL of the import sport sedans. Just more good news for that sister Bird! (Source: T. Firmand, 6/4/99)
I was asked today if I was worried about getting a buggy car when the Thunderbirds come out, the dreaded new new car syndrome, and was happy to say that I was confident that it would be mostly bug free. Why? By having the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar S Type coming out well before the Thunderbird, and sharing power train and other major components, the new Thunderbird will actually be a SECOND year model! For the important parts at least. And it appears that maybe some bugs are already being discovered, well before the Bird's production run! Blue Oval News is reporting on their main news page (not a separate article) that Wixom, the plant that produces the LS, is having problems with the new vehicle, although they don't specify exactly WHAT the problem is. They did say that it is serious enough to cause a possible stoppage in the line. And this is GREAT news for Thunderbird fans! Can everybody say cost savings and better quality T-Bird?! I knew you could! (6/2/99)
Several tidbits today! First, just got some more Lincoln LS debris in the mail. This time it's a book, kind of like the ones you'd buy for a three year old. Thick cardboard pages and about 4 inches square. It's a pretty cool gimmick. Even says that the LS has "Fail safe cooling", don't know exactly what it means. They even have an exclusive website with a code to enter. I'm not giving mine out, but I'm sure that they'd give you one if you call "toll-free information hotline 877-2DriveLS". They say it's toll free, but I've not heard of an 877 number.
Next, it's time for Motor Trend's review of the Jaguar S type. It starts on page 73 of the July issue.
Finally, I was sent this website from USNews (this site made it into the sidebar). It's an article on J. Mays and the Thunderbird. Talks about the four directions that they were looking to go to, as well as quoting that the Bird will have 290 hp under the hood which is a lot more than any other estimates I've seen for the LS or the S-Type. Maybe that's a good thing?! We also have another quote for the number to be produced, this time 6 digits: 100,000. Uh huh. I'll believe that when I start seeing them rolling of the line. So lots of reading material this month so far! (6/1/99)
I read a bit of one of the Ford newsgroups looking for information in general, and was delighted to find that everybody who'd drove the new LS were really pleased with the drive train. This bodes well for us Thunderbird fans. You can read a LS article here from The Car Connection. Also, on this weekend (June 5th), Motorweek TV will be showing a full test of the LS. It might be worth a watch! To find out when it's on in your area, check out the TV Guide. (Source: T. Firmand, 5/31/99)
It appears Ford is starting to gear up the Thunderbird website. Their "Future Bird" page (see the Heritage site link above) has been revamped. They didn't change the survey, it's still about the optional hard top. But it shows that they're starting work. Hopefully they'll have some downloads and other goodies soon. And also, they didn't update the other links on the front page. This may mean they haven't gotten to it yet, or will be working only on the upcoming Bird's areas. (5/27/99)
Got sent a web site that has more pictures of the red Thunderbird. They look like the same production stills with the yellow concept, but I'd only know that from seeing the originals. So if that's true, someone did a very good job changing the colors. The website is Ford Unleashed (I've added it to the links list above, too), and it has several other Ford vehicles as well. Be sure to check out the Aston Martin Vantage. Cool looking car. (Source: B. Ring, 5/19/99)
Been awhile since the last update, so figured it was due. I received my Thunderbird model in the mail on Friday, and it's pretty cool. Comes with two tops (the tonneau cover and the hardtop). Plus the steering works, as do the doors and both the trunk and hood. A little shoddy on the paint job under the hood and trunk, but not bad for $31.90 including shipping. Also, it is the June issue of Automobile Magazine, pages 86 to 90, with a full picture spread on the first two pages. It's a good read, but mostly just rehashes a lot of what's already known. Also, I've moved more stuff into the archive so this page is smaller. (5/16/99) And from Australia, we have this report (also with frames here). Read it and make your own conclusions, but I think some of the sentences seem awfully familiar. (Source: J. Smith, 5/16/99)
The latest issue of Automobile Magazine has an article on the new Thunderbird, and the pictures are in red too. The issue has the Chrysler PT Cruiser on the front. (Source: J. Congdon, 5/6/99) Also, I've got a bit more info on the die cast models given out at the January Detroit Auto Show, from Robert of the Blue Oval News. Immediately after the vehicle's introduction, a few members of qualified media were given press kits that included the concept car die cast model. Afterwards, the concept press kit sans model was given out to the rest of the media. (5/6/99)
Sorry for the delay on the pictures. Here are the pictures of the red Thunderbird that look much better: picture 1 and picture 2. I've got some other things in the work; been distracted by the opposite sex for a few days and haven't gotten to them. Just got an email tonight from G. Noyes that he's put down a deposit on the new Thunderbird and the dealer told him that the delivery date was set for August 2000. Looking good! (Pictures' Source: T. Brands, 5/5/99)
I've been sent some pictures of a red Thunderbird that look MUCH better, and the possibility of a mailing list to notify people when this site is updated. However, that's for sometime this weekend. Felt I had to post these articles now. They are on the Lincoln LS, which will share a lot of components. The Blue Oval News has these articles, while the Detroit News has this one. They are all an interesting read. I especially like the fact that the LS's V-8 will be Low Emissions in all 50 states, which is an issue if I'm going to buy my Thunderbird from an out-of-state dealer to bring in to California. (4/29/99)
The new Thunderbird is making its rounds. Blue Oval News has links to the pictures of it at Geneva, only this time it's in red! Unfortunately, it's a very, very ugly red. The pictures on the website look almost orange. This is the front view, and this is the rear. Don't know if it's the same concept car as shown in Detroit or not however. Also, on their QuickNotes page, they talk about Ford trying to come up with some cost savings measures and that it looks great in red. I beg to differ, but maybe they'd seen a different red as the article was listed January 29th. (4/27/99)
I got my Thunderbird Concept press kit today! It's pretty cool, at least for me. I especially liked the fact that they have a picture of every model year on the CD, and it was an interesting thing to play with. I had hoped to post the Thunderbird Screensaver that comes with the CD on here, but at 8.1Mb, it's too large for my personal web site. (4/19/99)
Okay, here's the answer to the question: Does the Thunderbird Press Kit come with the die cast model? The answer is no. The person I talked to (and am buying my press kit from) says that when he picked it up in the pressroom of Cobo Hall, they were handing out the press materials but no models. Then he goes on to say that the models may have been handed out at a subsequent press conference as a promotional item. Hope that answers your questions! (4/9/99)
Run goes up; run goes down (apologies to Homer Simpson). Yet another production run number has been mentioned. This time at 20,000 units mentioned here in the Detroit News. This now sets the new low end, beating the old low of 25,000 units from Blue Oval News. The high remains at 50,000 units from Autoweek. Place your bets everyone! Also, I've gotten several questions on if the Thunderbird Press Kit that was handed out at the Auto Show has the die cast model in it. Blue Oval News states that it does, while every single person on E-Bay does not include it. Could they be stripping the model out of the kit, or is Blue Oval News just confused? Dunno. I'm going to be receiving my kit soon (which may or may not have the model) and I'll send out some questions myself. (Source: J. Smith, 4/8/99)
Several updates today. First, I was finally the successful bidder on a Thunderbird Press Kit. It should arrive in a couple of weeks. I hope to be able to provide the Thunderbird screen saver that is included, but I'll need to check the legal statements. Second, M. Foxworthy reports that the Thunderbird model is available through Exoticar (1-800-EXOTICAR) for $24.95, Item number C 31866. They don't have a picture, so I can't tell if it's the same model Ford is selling, or a knock-off. I've saved the bigger news for last. Got an email from Ford (as did a number of you I suppose) thanking me for doing the survey listed on the Thunderbird Heritage website. The vote was for chrome wheels on the next 'Bird, which the majority said they wanted. They've set up a new survey too, this time asking if you'd order an optional hard top. So get out there and vote! This time they've set it up so you can see the results too. Must have received several complaints. :) They only show the percentages, but not the total number of votes. Well, they'll change that I imagine. It's a bit interesting, but on the page that leads to the survey, they have a picture of a white Concept Thunderbird. Don't know if they just doctored the picture like I've done for the other colors or if this is another vehicle or repaint. I think they doctored the pic. (Source: M. Foxworthy & Ford email, 3/29/99)
The latest issue of AutoWeek (March 22, 1999) on page 2 in The News section has some interesting information. Since the Thunderbird has received such a glowing response from the public, Ford has told suppliers to gear up for a production run of 50,000 units, at least for the first year. That's the good news. The bad news is that there are reports (Ford declined to confirm) that the Thunderbird will be a 2002 model instead of a 2001 model. Looks like we may have to wait another year to start cruising around. (Source: J. Congdon 3/20/99)
The Blue Oval News is now up and running again on a regular basis. They've posted a good set of descriptions on the Thunderbird Press Kit. (3/15/99)
The Blue Oval News says that they're going to be putting some Thunderbird info up on their website. They have just the picture of the model car right now. Hopefully, they'll have the screensaver available for downloading. I'll keep ya posted. It appears that they were offline due to funding problems. Also, I've added a links section right above here. It's mostly the bookmarks that I personally use, and I figured it might be nice to have them here for everybody. (3/14/99)
It appears that the Blue Oval News is slowly clawing its way back into existence. They were supposed to be back up this week. This week, I noticed that a couple people on EBay were selling the press kits handed out to the media when the concept car was unveiled. It was a yellow folder with a big circle on it with the typical media stuff: articles, pictures, and slides. But it also contained a CD-ROM with a screensaver on it! So there IS a screensaver for the Thunderbird that Ford has passed out, it just hasn't reached the masses yet. I unsuccessfully bid for the press kit, being beat out during the last minute. The kit I was bidding on went for $95. There aren't any more for sale, but I'll keep my eyes open. (3/13/99)
No sooner had I updated this site, when more info on the die-cast model appears from L. Somsak, editor of Earlybird Magazine, part of the Classic Thunderbird Club International. The models can be found in the Ford Motor Company World Catalog:
RETURN OF AN AMERICAN ICON
THE 1:18 SCALE THUNDERBIRD DIE CAST
The Ford World Catalogue is pleased to be one of the first to offer a modern interpretation of a legend. Recreating the enthusiasm of the original, this two seat roadster has turn-of-the-millennium styling. Its negative wedge design and 18 inch, eight spoke wheels give the T'Bird a sporting stance. Oval grille and hood design, wrap around windshield and removable hard-top with porthole windows take their cue from the original. Circular headlamps, foglamps and taillamps round-out the look. Detailed interior from door and instrument panels to black leather-wrapped seats. By Maisto. S9548, Retail $29. Available from the Ford Motor Company World Catalogue. To order call (800) 444-4503.
You can buy through Ford's Online Store, or you might be able to buy them through your local dealer (after March 1st) and possibly avoid shipping costs. However, they may be backordered because of the demand (which fits with the info from E. Howell that his dealer had some on order). For those of you who can't wait, or want to try for a better price, you might check out Ebay or other such online sites. (Source: L. Somsak, 3/6/99)
Received some information from E. Howell. His dealer reports from the Orlando dealer meeting that Job1 is slated for the first quarter of 2001. The dealer also had brought back a Thunderbird model (the one the Ford people didn't know anything about on Wednesday) and has more on order. (Source: E. Howell, 3/6/99)
Time to clear up an error. I received a letter from Blue Oval News yesterday that they will be back online in a weeks time. And it cleared up an email from Larry. He called Ford about the die cast models I talked about on 2/11/99. Ford had no idea what he was talking about. Well, turns out it's the Blue Oval News that has the die cast models, along with other promotional materials from the January 3rd introduction. Sorry for the confusion.
Next up, it appears that you can place a deposit on your new Thunderbird sometime in August of this year, after the production plans have been made official. Randy has asked some of his local dealers, and that is the date he was told.
Finally, Dave has test driven the new Jaguar S-Type, the third in Ford's triplet of this sister frames, which is on sale in his area. He says, "if the Tbird drives anything like the S-Type, it will be a BEAUTIFUL experience." Let's all hope he's right, and it's not that old superstition of three on a match being bad luck. And on a side note, the Jaguar S-Type website has a screensaver. This makes both cars out that the Thunderbird will be based upon having their own screensaver. Can't wait for the T-Bird's! (Sources: Larry, Randy, and Dave, 3/3/99)
Worried that I may not be able to afford the insurance on a new Thunderbird, I called up my local insurance agent today. Of course, they don't have real information on the Thunderbird yet, so he had to guess based solely on the price of the car compared with my current costs. I currently pay $652 for a year's worth on my 1991 Thunderbird (est $16,500), and he estimated it'd cost me $1402 a year for a $35,000 car. If that holds, I'll be able to afford it no problem. Plus, I'll be 27 or 28 when they come out, so that should help decrease my rates a bit too. If there are any insurance agents reading this, could you work up what the rates on similar cars are going for? I was thinking along the lines of a Ford Cobra convertible, that BMW (or is it Mercedes?) convertible, and other convertibles in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. That way we can sort of see what the differences are between the cars (if they exist, I 'm guessing). (3/1/99)
Only miscellaneous updates today. Lincoln has sent me another oddity. It's a thin aluminum plate talking about how the LS using aluminum in the engine, suspension, hood, front fenders and rear decklid. I also recall reading that the LS has the battery in the trunk to improve the weight distribution. Don't know if it'll be the same on the T-Bird, but I imagine it will to keep commonality. Somehow, I don't think the Thunderbird will get near the nifty little mailings the LS people have done. Also, in the April issue of Motor Trend, they rehash the Detroit and LA Auto Shows. The Thunderbird is shown on page 26. It's a slightly different angle, so is worth looking at. Finally, just a quick note: Today here in So. Cal would have been a wonderful Saturday to go cruising with the top down. Can't wait! (2/27/99)
Just added a counter to see how many people visit. It's located at the bottom if you're curious as well. (2/21/99)
There is a decent article on the LS from Automotive Industries that's posted on the Lincoln website. Or, for the spiffy Lincoln graphics before you get to the article, go here first, then click "News" and then "Automotive Industries". (Source: T. Firmand, 2/20/99)
The Blue Oval News is still offline while they update their site. No idea when they'll be back online. However, there are always other sources of information. Such as this article talking about how Ford hopes to sell the entire year's production of Thunderbirds (estimated at 25,000) even before they reach the showroom. For those of you who miss your chance, I guess they have a backup plan. They're going to start selling toy models of the concept car from their website March 1. Gee thanks. How 'bout a larger production run instead? (Source: J. Smith, 2/11/99)
The Blue Oval News has an article today on the Lincoln LS engines. The V-8 will probably be the Thunderbird's offered engine to start out production, with the V-6 as a possible option later on. (2/1/99)
The new Thunderbird is the cover story of the March 1999 issue of Motor Trend, and so it's definitely worth a look. Big spread from pages 38 to 42. Most of the pictures are almost stock, seen from the various sources mentioned earlier. The last picture on page 42 was taken from nearly road level, and the shadows show off the car nicely when compared to the well illuminated shots we've seen so far. Things of note: insiders say that the volume will be between 20,000 and 30,000 with a sticker between $32,000 and $35,000; read the funny interior story at the top of page 40; Jac Nasser calling the Thunderbird more of a corporate brand than the Mustang (hopefully this will lead to better performance); possible bench seat instead of the buckets. Buy your copy today! (Source: M. Snyder and M. Fax, 1/28/99)
Moved older articles to an archive (see link at bottom). (1/28/99)
Wondering what's under the hard top? Wonder no further. In an interview with Jac Nasser in the Chicago Tribune, he states that there is in fact a soft top hiding under the hard top. Somebody had asked that question of me, but I didn't know the answer until now. (Source: J. Smith 1/21/99)
For those of you wondering, the Blue Oval News will be down for about 8 days for an overhaul. They are going to be putting up an interview with someone on the design team and some development pictures they are trying to get a release to publish. They also mention in their email that they've been asked (and done) to retract the introduction date of the Thunderbird due to contract negotiations. I don't see what that has to do with it, but who can tell? (1/15/99)
The Detroit News has an interesting article talking about the cars unveiled. It mentions that the initial colors for the Thunderbird will be salmon, turquoise, and Super 8 yellow. I have no idea what color Super 8 yellow is, but I'd assume that it's the same as the concept car (the photo at the top of this page). (1/13/99)
Ford sent out an email thanking people for voting on the colors for the new Thunderbird and inviting them to the auto show. The winning color was Flame Red (Flaming Red in the email). (1/7/99)
Just to prove it to myself that the car just looked funny in that yellow, I altered the color of the picture I had to those colors that Ford had posted on their Thunderbird site at one time. I'm pretty proud of the results (287k gif), although Thunderbird Green is a hard color to work. (1/7/99)
Okay, so I made a mistake, but it's not my fault! I mention below that I thought I saw the manual/automatic transmission like the LS has. However, at FutureWatch, they have a picture from the other side which shows that they slot which I mistook for the m/a one is actually a "Z" shape slot. The shaft was just blocking my view from the other angle. (1/6/99, Site submission from J. Smith)
I've found a lot of websites that have information and pictures on the new Thunderbird. I'm going to list them here:
Blue Oval News has some good pictures here and here.
The Detroit News has some good shots here under Concept Cars, including a video, slide show, and wallpaper (where you can find the picture I have at the top of this page).
Auto.com has most of the same pictures as the above two sites.
I'd have something from USA Today, but they want to charge me a buck just to read the article. Bite me.
Course, CNN was kind enough NOT to charge for their article, complete with pictures.
MSNBC has some interesting things, and I wish that they surround video was a bit better, but I guess you get what you can take.
One interesting thing to note on the pictures is the gearshift. If you look closely in a couple, you can make out that they have the same manual/automatic shifter that the LS has, although CNN reports that it will only have the automatic. I guess they might be the same, but who do you believe? Plus, they throw out yet another price, $40,000. Ain't no way I could pay that price. In the USA Today article (bought the Monday paper, check out your local library) they talk about how the designers went out and washed the old Thunderbirds to get a hands on feel of the car and pick out the minute details. I was really worried (still am I suppose) that they wouldn't have a hardtop, so I'm glad that was in there.
PS: Thanks to everybody who wrote with info! There are too many to give proper credit to, but special thanks to B. Kimball for the masthead graphic. (1/5/99)
The new Thunderbird prototype has been unveiled! I just got back from vacation and spotting the picture on Monday's edition of USA Today. I had over 40 emails from all you T-Bird nuts waiting for me too. J So bear with me while I sort through my snail mail and email and I hope to have some pictures here tomorrow! (1/4/99)
Great news T-Bird fans! I've been sent a scanned copy of a Ford All Employees Bulletin inviting them to sign up for tickets for a meeting with the new CEO and the unveiling of the Thunderbird concept car! The unveiling will be at 1pm on Sunday, January 3rd, along with the other product that will be shown to the media that week. I was invited to come and see, but cannot make it unfortunately. So there is a set date for the unveiling now, so production cannot be that far behind! (Source: Anonymous Ford Employee, 12/6/98) Also to note, Ford's T-Bird Heritage site has a new survey on whether or not the new Bird should have chrome wheels.
Well, it's been slow lately, but something finally popped up worth reporting. In the December issue of Motor Trend (the article is online, assuming it's in the hard copy), Michelle Krebs interviewed Ford Chairman Alex Trotman. You can read the interview here. On the second page, she asks him about the Thunderbird. Nothing earth shattering, but at least it's something. (Source: Pointed out by T. Jones, 11/30/98)
Blue Oval News has an entire day of news on the new Thunderbird. However, if you've kept up with this page, it's nothing new. In fact, it's nothing new for them either, just rehashing all their old pages. Still, it is worth reading in case you think you may have missed something. (11/8/98)
Guess what Chevrolet is coming out with in 2000? I'll give you a hint: it looks like the Thunderbirds of the 90s. Read about it here in the Detroit News. (11/4/98)
There is an article in the Detroit News from October 28 that mentions that Jaguar has received the blessing of Ford management to produce a two-seater that is seen by some as Jaguar's answer to the new Thunderbird. That's a bit confusing. I thought Ford's competition would be other car companies, so why is Jaguar answering the Thunderbird? That's like saying that Mercury will be building a car to compete with the Mustang. Then again, when you only compete with yourself, you're bound to win. Unfortunately, you're also always going to lose. I'm a bit concerned over the entire Ford car line; count every car with a Ford badge (not Mercury or Lincoln) with your fingers and you'll wind up with lots of spare fingers. I see this as a bad sign in general, especially with the possibility that the Contour will be discontinued soon (see the article in the Blue Oval News). Ford seems to have its head in the sand when it comes to cars and is forcing a decision on my part. I've always been a strong Ford guy, but I'm starting to think that to get what I want, I will have to buy a non-Ford product (believe me, this is ground shaking news if you knew me). Look at what Dodge has done with their car line, which I feel only shows that there is a car market out there. Someone needs to wake up upper management and force them to look ahead to a soon to be time in my opinion when SUVs will start to lose popularity. I think that when it comes to replace these vehicles, people may choose a car instead. And Ford will be left behind. Anyway, enough of my ranting. (11/3/98)
I'm losing faith in the Blue Oval News. They are now reporting in this little article that the Thunderbird is ready for production and is waiting on tooling. Under the little blurb on the Crown Victoria, they mention that it takes 24 months to get sheet metal dies made. So, if we assume that the outer mold line has been fixed since May (around the time they confirmed that it would be back), then that means production could start in May of 2000. I suppose that this would put it in as a 2001 model right on time, but doesn't leave much room for errors and schedule slips. I guess we can hope! (10/22/98)
Now the Blue Oval News is retracting its report from the 13th that the Thunderbird might be seen in this January's Detroit Auto Show. I wish that they'd publish their source, course it's probably just an anonymous like a number of mine. But they offer no justification one way or the other so it's really frustrating trying to make sense of it all. I say it won't debut so Ford can promote other vehicles. I'd wager it'll show up at the 2000 Auto Show however. (10/18/98)
As I reported on the 8th of this month, the LS sedan (which the new Thunderbird will be base off of) will be pushed back until May for production, says The Detroit News here. I'm sure that this will possibly delay the production of the Thunderbird since it'll be built at Wixom as well. (Source: The Detroit News, 10/14/98)
Now that's just a bit odd. Blue Oval News reports that the Thunderbird prototype is behind closed doors in one of their design studios, and that "YOU" might see it in this January's Detroit Auto Show. I noted this nearly a month ago (9/25). But that's not what seems odd. What does is....well, read the news blurb for today (10/13) and judge for yourself. I thought it was odd. (Source: My own wild suspicions, 10/13/98)
Well, from my sources inside the Wixom plant if you care to take an anonymous email as fact (but aren't all emails nearly?), there is a prototype Bird on the floor. Not much info really, but one interesting tidbit was that the rear tail light is a single piece item. I suppose that's a bit like the newer models have had. Also, another source states that there have been quality control problems on the LS6/8, such that the production has been pushed into May of next year. It was supposed to have started already. What impact this will have in the Thunderbird run has yet to be seen, but the Mark VIII equipment that will be reworked is currently sitting idle. (Several anonymous Ford and contract employees, 10/08/98)
Here's an interesting little tidbit from Blue Oval News (formerly Ford World News) under their "Product Disposition", then under the Thunderbird stories. They report that the production run is expected to be 35,000 units and be priced just above the Cobra Convertible. The Cobra Convertible from Ford's own web site has a base price of $28,510, and added another $2000 when I included all the bells and whistles I could check off to be added before their server crashed on me. That means that the $35,000 figure pops up yet again. (9/29/98)
Paul Lienert of The Detroit News reports that the 2001 Thunderbird will be on display at the 1999 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next year. The article is here if you care to read it. The Thunderbird blurb is in the very last paragraph. I'm a bit disappointed that it's reported as a 2001 model year. If true, that would mean that the earliest it could be sold to the public would be January 2000 (if I understand these things correctly). (Sources: Pointed out to me by K. Jones, 9/25/98)
The October 1998 issue of Motor Trend has another picture (23k) of their version of the Thunderbird. They don't really point out anything that hasn't already been listed on this site, but they do contradict the next bullet about Road and Track's stand that it would be the 1960-62 Birds instead. But not entirely, as it is pointed out on page 10 of MT that mmonthly magazines have an eight week lead time, so who knows how old both sets of info are. One thing that is notable is that they quote J. Mays, vice-president of design. Not that they quoted him, but that he was chief designer on the Volkswagen Concept 1, aka the New Beetle. Given that car's recent public enthusiasm, one can hope that the same excitement builds for the Thunderbird. (Sources: First reported to me by D. Di Stefano, 9/14/98)
The September 1998 issue of Road and Track on page 41 has a little blurb about the new Mustang. In that little article, they report that contrary to popular belief, the new Thunderbird will not be reminiscent of the 1950's T-Birds. Instead, it will be more like the 1960-62 Thunderbirds that had four seats and won't have the trademark round portals. (Source: Pointed out to me by D. Smith, 8/23/98)
In the Consumer Review 1999 Car Preview, they have a sketch of their take on what the new Thunderbird might look like. I was a bit disappointed that it looked somewhat similar to the new Cougar, but that may just be my impression. Of note is that they mention that the base price will be approaching $30,000, so we have yet another number thrown out to the masses. (Source: Scanned from Consumer Review by K.W. Miller, 7/15/98)
You know, I've been thinking. And that could be dangerous. Several stories have appeared that the new Thunderbird is going to start at around $35,000. The original 'Birds were brought out to be competitors to the Chevrolet Corvette. So, why not compare the current Corvette price with the reported number for the new Thunderbird? Well, it went the wrong way I had intended. I thought that I'd read that the Vettes had a starting price of $30,000, but I've just checked the web site. Coupes start at $38,560 while the convertibles start at $44,990. That's in the same range that has been reported before. So, using the Vette's numbers, the new Bird should be able to run at 175 mph, run a 0-60 in around 4.7s, and generate 345 h.p. Anything less would be embarrassing, but given Ford's reluctance to power up the Mustang I wouldn't put it past them to make it less than the Vette at the same price. Shame really. (6/12/98)
I've found a site that claims to have the first official image of the new Thunderbird. However, it's part of Ford's C3P computer system, which I guess includes some sort of CAD program. Anyway, the picture shown is that of a future engine bay of the future T-Bird. Now, you can't get a whole lot of info out of this picture (at least I can't, but my knowledge of engines isn't that great), but you can see the right front fender. It appears to be very close to that of the possible car shown on the June issue of Car and Driver. Anyway, it's something to ponder. (6/12/98)
The Ford web site that's offering people to vote on colors is now working. Vote for your favorite color here. To get an idea of what the colors may look like on the car, read the next item and click the picture (261k). (6/5/98)
I've redone the site a bit (mostly so all the items are in order, oldest at bottom). But the big thing I've done is take the colors from the Ford web site (see next item) and apply them to the Car and Driver cover of the new Thunderbird. I think I did an adequate job on the picture (261k), so you can judge for yourself. It's a bit crude, but I'll save the really detailed work for the next picture of my favorite of the colors (Starmist Blue if you ask). (5/23/98)
For all you 'Bird watchers out there, check out Ford's Own Thunderbird Page. Of note is that under the "Future Bird" link, you can vote for your favorite color. Perhaps some cheap market research? We'd like to think so. Vote early and often. However, the voting portion doesn't seem to work from where I sit (5/19/98). I'll update when it's working. (Source: Submitted by B. Hinners, 5/19/98)
This in from the FCN Newscenter BB (I assume that to be the Ford Corporate News) that a nice Ford employee sent me:
They're the six words that Ford fans have been waiting to hear -- "The Ford Thunderbird will be back," and it promises to be a modern classic. FAO President Jac Nasser confirmed Friday that the company will build a new generation Thunderbird that blends leading edge technology and world-class driving dynamics and features with design cues true to the heritage of the original T-Bird of the mid-1950s. Nasser confirmed that the new Thunderbird will be a rear-wheel drive specialty sports coupe to be built at Ford's Wixom Assembly Plant in Michigan. The car will share the same world-class DEW platform with the 2000 model-year Lincoln LS, also to be built at the Wixom facility (see drawings in the new Motor Trend or C&D)
So take it for what it's worth. One, I guess it's "official" that the T-Bird will be coming back. Two, it seems they threw in a lot of corporate marketing buzz-words in there, and nothing truly substantial (discounting the rear wheel drive). (Source: anonymous Ford employee, 5/14/98)
It's getting closer and closer. Car and Driver Magazine has a picture (94k) of the possible new Thunderbird in their June issue. I have yet to find this magazine on the newsstands, but I'll buy it as soon as I do. (Source: First reported to me by J. Ruff, picture from Sandbag1, 5/7/98) Also, Paul Lienert's Car Talk in the Detroit News talks about how Ford has locked in the design, and should be producing prototypes soon. Hope to have spy photos when they appear. One interesting thing in Paul's column is that the price he's saying will start is $25,000. That is much better than the $35k to $40k I'd been reporting. Means I can go for more options when I buy mine.
I've received word from inside the Wixom plant (that's where the Town Car, the Continental, the Mark VIII, and the LS prototypes have been built) that the Thunderbird might be built there since the Mark VIII trim and chassis areas will be empty. Whether this means that the Bird will be built there or not is still debatable, since they'd have to retool that area (unless of course they borrow the Mark's basic layout). (Source: Anonymous employee, 4/27/98)
I was sent this picture of a possible new Bird from Automobile Magazine, but I don't know what issue. I thought it came from Car and Driver magazine, but I was corrected by SC Smith of C&D. Not that bad looking of a car. (Source: G. Hansen, 4/27/98)
In the April 8, 1998 issue of the Detroit News, (Note: Click on the link for the full story and pictures.) they show the front, interior, and back of the new Lincoln LS, which is possibly the platform the new Thunderbird will be based off of. I was a bit perplexed at just how much the interior looks like the current T-Bird interior. Coincidence? Maybe. However, the LS is on a DEW98 platform (new design) and I was under the assumption that the new bird would be a M205 platform. Who knows. But, this platform will be used on the new Jaguar X200, so maybe it will be the new bird. I'm a bit dismayed that they seem to be decreasing the size of the engines slowly, but I guess that may be part of emissions requirements or just a cheaper product.
From the February 23, 1998 issue of Autoweek:
There's a T-Bird in your future and it looks a lot like the 50's. Ford has shown a customer clinic a two-seat T-Bird roadster that capitalizes on the retro-look craze like the Boxster, SLK, and Z3. But it is considerably larger than any of those cars - more like a two-seat Sebring convertible.
The clinic car appeared to be rear-wheel drive, said a spy. He added that the car looks better wearing its removable hard top (which has 1956-57 T-Bird-style porthole windows) than it does with it top off, because the rear deck and rear overhang are very long.
The front has a hood scoop, apparently fake, like the original, and a protruding grill. It has no dominant bumper, but it has nicely designed round projector beam headlights. The interior is very conservative, with white on black gauges, and the exterior is bereft of New Edge styling, with high door sills (like the original two-seat 'Bird) giving the car a slab-sided appearance.
Ford reportedly has set a target price of $32,000 for the car.
(Source: Posting on BirdCats BBS (replaces the SCCoA BBS) by Don Mullins 3/1/98) My personal take on this is that the one of the original reasons I thought Ford discontinued the T-Bird was that it just wasn't selling like they had hoped. And with a price tag of $32k, do they really expect sales to increase over the old style? Me thinks not, so that high price may in fact be the top of the line SVT version (or at least the performance to match the tag). But, we can only guess at this point.
From the April (maybe March) 1998 issue of Car and Driver:
The symbolism was not lost on anyone who received Ford honcho Jacques Nasser's Christmas card, which featured a picture of a 1955 Ford Thunderbird. More information has leaked about the return of the Thunderbird, expected as a 2001 model and borrowing several styling cues from that original. The comparatively large two-seater will be built on the same platform as the upcoming Lincoln LS8 (as will the Jaguar X200), meaning it should be V-8 powered and have rearwheel drive. Price is expected to be from $35,000 to $40,000, and volume will be about 15,000 a year. And now that the Lincoln Mark VIII is being retired as of June, rumors are rampant that the name will be revived for a Lincoln version of the new Thunderbird. And even more esoteric: The company toyed with the idea of building the next generation Ford Mustang on that LS8 platform but decided it would be too pricey. Now the idea is to look into developing a platform for the Mustang that could be shared with the Ford Falcon of Australia.
(Source: Paul C's post on 3/4/98 in the BirdCat's BS BBS.) I'm going to try to find the particular issue soon to verify this. What worries me is the mention of the price, which seems to agree with the Feb 23 issue of Autoweek. This is not good as it is WAY out of my price range. And yet they even admit that having the Mustang based off this platform would be "too pricey". What do they think it'll be on the T-Bird? Less pricey? BTW, down below in the Rumors section is a picture I found of this Mustang based on the larger frame. (Correction: The above actually came from S.C. Smith's section in Car and Driver not Motor Trend. Or so some guy claiming to be SC says. Don't worry that's a joke, I believe ya. 3/16/98)
Here is a picture of a Lincoln concept car that just by strange coincidence is a convertible. Hmmm.... (Source: Kenneth W. Miller, Jr. 3/10/98)
Here is a picture (8k) I found on Motor Trend's web site from the March 1997 issue. It is not for the Thunderbird, but the Taurus. However, reshape the nose, replace the oval with a bird, flatten the trunk a bit to provide for the convertible, and viola: The possible 2001 T-Bird. (Source: Picture from Motor Trend website, and conjecture my own. 3/6/98, corrections by K.W. Miller, Jr. and Don Mullins 3/10/98)
Two new Lincoln models will be debuting in 1999, the LS6 and LS8. Rumor has it that these will be the basis for the new Bird. Also, the engine will be a 3.9L 4V DOHC V8 which will be shared with a new Jaguar and be around 240 HP. Other rumor info is that it'll have 17" rims and have a 5R55N transmission. (Source: BirdCats posting from Dave (who I believe works for Ford) 3/10/98).
The 2001 Thunderbird will be a "retro" style similar in appearance to the first T-Birds, much like how the new Mustang style is similar to the original Mustang. Hopefully they'll also "retro" in higher performance and a convertible. (Source: Miscellaneous 2/16/98)
The new Thunderbird will not have the Cougar as a sister frame. The new Cougar is already released, and it is based off of the Contour platform. (Source: Auto Show 2/16/98)
The new Thunderbird will be two-seat hard top convertible roadster with rear wheel drive and a vestigial back seat. (Source: SCCoA BBS posting from Dave, a Ford engineer who claims to have seen one of several prototypes 2/16/98)
The new Thunderbird will NOT be as fast as the Mustang because of the "No building shall be taller than the tallest building" mentality Ford seems to have. (Source: Paraphrased from a SCCoA BBS posting 2/16/98)
The earliest the new Thunderbird could be sold as a 2001 model year car is January 1, 2000. So, go back six months before for a possible show car date: June 1999. However, if it is released as normal (i.e. in August 2000) then the possible show date would be February 2000. (Source: My own estimation 2/16/98)
The new Thunderbird will be based off of a frame that is shared with a new Jaguar and Lincoln vehicle. (Source: Posting on SCCoA BBS 2/16/98)
Some possible prototype pictures: 2001bird.jpg (46k), T-bird21.jpg (115k) (Source: Scans by Kenneth W. Miller, Jr. The first is from a 1994 book and the second is from a magazine from the Fall of 97 2/16/98)
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