This site containsfacts and rumors about the upcoming 2001 Ford Thunderbird
Last Revised: Sunday, May 21, 2000
Semi-Facts (Sources denoted by color):
Car and Driver reprint brochure from Ford of Lincoln LS, 9/14/98,March 1999 Issue of Motor Trend, Road & Track Guide to the All-New Lincoln LS, Popular Mechanics Website
Wheelbase (in):107 (LS is 114.5)
Length (in):186 (LS is 193.9)
Weight distribution, F/R:51%/49%
Powertrain:3.9 liter, 32 valve V-8, 252 bhp at 6100 rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm (maybe 290 hp) 10.5:1 compression ratio with 5 speed automatic transmission (gear ratios of 3.58:1, 3.25:1, 2.44:1, 1.55:1, and 1.00:1), possible future milder option of 3.0 liter 210 hp Duratec V-6 with Getrag manual 5 speed or automatic transmission
Suspension:Four wheel independent short- and long-arm with coil springs and anti-roll bar, anti-dive geometry, yaw and traction control
Steering:Rack-and-pinion, variable rate power assist
Brakes:Fade resistant four-wheel abetted disc ABS
Standard Amenities:Cruise control, tilt wheel, keyless entry, air conditioning, battery protection, power (soft) top, power windows, power mirrors, power leather bucket seats
Safety Cage:Uni-body crash structure similar to Lincoln LS (may not undergo crash testing due to such close similarities)
Performance Estimates: 0-60 mph =mid to high 6 sec, Top speed = ~145 mph
Estimated Production Run: 20,000 to 40,000 units
Estimated Retail Price: $30,000 to $45,000
Availability: May 2001 (was Nov 2000)
Available colors: Yellow, Red, Black, White, Silver and Retro Turquoise
(from TheCarConnection.com, and probably other sources)
Sun Mist Yellow Prototype Factoids
Built by Special Projects, Inc of Plymouth, Michigan
Prototype design time: 19 months
Prototype build time: 4 months
Links Every Enthusiast Should See
Thunderbird Forum at Blue Oval News
Ford's Thunderbird Heritage Site
The Detroit News
Classic Thunderbird Club International
Thunderbird & Cougar Club
Dot's Ford Concept Models
The Facts, Rumors, and other Tidbits
Twenty lashes with a wet noodle. Very little to report in the last month, so I haven't done a single update. Just now replied to emails almost a month old. Sorry! I do have one little link of interest here. This guy has done some modifications to the concept car picture. It's worth a look. You need to scroll down past the PT Cruiser. I can guarantee no updates for the next two weeks as I'll be gone on vacation. Feel free to email me any info you get! Finally, I've moved all information prior to the first of the year to the Birdnest. (Source: Marshall F., 5/21/00)
Minor correction: Dot's newsletter I mentioned yesterday DOES include the concept car. Sorry Dot! (Source: Dot L., 4/30/00)
Okay, on with the update! Like I said Thursday, there isn't anything earth shattering about the Thunderbird lately.
Marty G. was talking to his dealer, who said that the Thunderbird would be priced between $30k and $35k. I'm certain everybody would look at that as good news. I would not be able to afford one if it was above $35k. But, I've yet to see anything official, so I'm still holding my breath.
Dot L. sent me the link to the model web page. Dot's got a newsletter on the classic Thunderbird models, but not the new one. Be sure to check it out!
Paula B. sent in that the Thunderbird Concept car was a question on Jeopardy on 4/24! It was a picture question, and they were asked from what classic car was this derived. One guessed Mustang, and the other two didn't respond. SACRILIGE! Wish they would have all lost! Ha ha!
Lin S. sent me a bunch of good info on a recent event (well, 4/9). Rather than paraphrase, here's the letter:
The red concept was at the Fabulous Fords Forever Show at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA on April 9th. It was displayed under a canopy with George Watts #1 production 1955 T-Bird. The canopy above had a logo celebrating the 45th anniversary of Thunderbird and said "2000 Thunderbird Concept" (non-committal date) No Ford representatives were present, so we received a lot of questions at our Classic Thunderbird Club booth right next to the canopy. Of course we told them about your website for the latest news!
Approximately 1600 Fords were at the show. A special Thunderbird row displaying every year of T-Bird from 1955 to 1997 was next to the concept car. After the show, when the area was clearing out, I spoke to someone of Special Projects, Inc. from Plymouth, MI, who came over to drive the concept back to the transport truck. He said that they built only 3 concept cars: the yellow one was begun in late November and was completed in a frantic rush schedule on Dec. 24, 1998; Ford then decided they needed a second one to fill the demand of shows, so they built the red one in 28 days. Ford then ordered a third one, this time they had about a month and a half to complete it. Last summer, Ford had plans to paint the sun-mist yellow one an "aqua" color, but decided instead to paint it a deeper "chrome yellow", as it is being shown now. Ford also ordered a brushed aluminum top made for the black car, but it is still on the shelf at SPI "gathering dust". (Ooooh, I'd like to see the public reaction to that--sounds gorgeous!)
Each of the concept cars have a fiberglass body on a modified LS drivetrain. The yellow car is the only one that has an opening hood and trunk. The others have to have the body lifted off to service the engine! The engine in the red concept is a 4.6 liter Lincoln engine, but he would not say what the final engine configuration will be.
The grill on the red car is chromed and he said that the production car will have this style grill. He also said that it will have a soft top that will fold under the tonneau (back window shelf) rather than behind the seat. He does not know the release date, but said the steel bodies are stamped and being held ready for production at the Ford pilot plant in Dearborn. He was not aware of any problem with the hardtop, but said that Ford does all the testing; they only build the prototype models.
News flash! A friend just told me that Ford bought 5 white 1955 and 5 white 1956 near show quality T-Birds in the Los Angeles area this past week supposedly to use for promotional displays with the new Thunderbird.
Lin also sent me some pics, and thought I'd post this one of the concept car next to #001!
Finally, Shane R. asked if the Thunderbird will be marketed in Canada. I don't know the answer, so could someone grab a Ford rep and ask? Thanks! (Source: Marty G., Dot L., Paula B., Lin S., and Shane R. 4/29/00)
April has been a bad month for updates. Been busy all month. However, this weekend I will get through the backlog of news I've been sent. It's nothing earth shattering, which is why I didn't jump on it. (4/27/00)
Sorry for not updating, but I had a balsa wood contest to finish. How'd I do? Let's say I'm really glad that I beat at least ONE person! But now that it's over, I have time to update! First off, tidbit from inside the Wixom plant. The production prototypes are coming off the line! Okay, so we knew that. But it was also stated that they are being delivered without camoflauge, so we should get some really good spy shots soon.
Now, for those of you in the Waco, TX area, the concept car is headed your way! It's a safe bet that it will be the red one. It will be at the Vintage Thunderbird Club International's South Central Regional meet at the Courtyard by Marriot, 101 Washington Avenue in Waco on April 13 to 16. This information comes from VTCI's publication, Thunderbird scoop. It goes on to say that a guest speaker from the design team will be present. This may be a members only event, I'm not sure. If it is open to the public, I'm sure the local paper will have information on it.
Next, from Autoweek comes a list of the ten best selling 1:18 scale models. The Thunderbird concept from Maisto comes in at number 5! In the same issue (4/10/00) they list the Thunderbird as a 2002 model year vehicle. So, maybe late next year now?
Well, it isn't if you trust the "Product Specialist" at the Dallas Auto Show. It's been reported to me that the Thunderbird will be available at this time next year. This falls more in line with recent news than the late next year. He also went on to say that there are now five cars: Yellow with Yellow/Black interior, Red with Red/Black, Black with Red/Black, White with (maybe) Black, and Turquoise with Off-White and a soft top! If anybody gets a picture of the White or Turquoise ones, send them to me! I'll put them up for people to see. Some more changes for the cars will be new wheels and tires (I think they've received lots of negative views on this) and that the front silver grill will be changed to chrome. The soft top is still up in the air if it will be manual or power. There's a power switch for the top right now, but because of weight added it may have to be switched to manual. Finally, it was reported to me that there is no key for the trunk. It's all just a power release. Don't know if that will make it into the final vehicle. (Source: Anonymous, Pete M., & Edward W. 4/10/00)
Lots of news today! First, the most important! Spyshot! Read the CarConnection article here with a picture! I had lots of trouble loading the page for some reason. It helped to turn off auto-load images in my browser, then go to www.thecarconnection.com, then click on "Caught in the Web". After several tries going back and forth I got the article loaded and then clicked on the picture to see it. Don't know why it doesn't work, but this finally worked for me. It may just be me, but it looks like they've taken out some of the roundness of it for production. This may just be the color and angle, so don't trust me on it. What's also a little silly on their part (and maybe it's supposed to be a gag) is that the Thunderbird emblem on the front is covered with a strip of black tape. That's akin to how you hide an elephant in a strawberry patch: you paint its toenails red. Also, this means that the rumor that the Thunderbird is being canceled is just that. And I'm not referring to my article on 4/1. I'd actually heard this as an actual rumor.
Next comes a rumor from the Dallas Auto Show. Someone there said that a continental spare tire kit would be an option made available. This is probably pure speculation at this point, but that's what this page is about!
And finally, for those modelers out there, check out Richard's model of the Thunderbird using the snap together kit. It's more of the "Bonneville" pictures similar to the one I added on 3/27. (Source: bd, Lauren, Brian G., Jerry B., & Richard B. 4/3/00)
Some Thunderbird competition gets the ax. AutoExpress.com reports that Mercedes is dropping production plans for their SLA two-seat roadster. Instead, they'll have their MCC produce the "Smart". One of the reasons for the ax was lukewarm attention from potential customers, and the 28,000 pound price tag (or roughly $44,000 in Yankee dollars). The Smart will have a price tag of around 12,000 pound ($19,000). It's being dubbed the new "Midget", but I don't think I'd want one. I'd link to the story, but you'd need my password. You can always register with them by clicking the link. (Source: AutoExpress.co.uk, 4/1/00)
I tried not to believe it, but just got confirmation from Ford's media center today. There is yet ANOTHER delay in the Thunderbird production line. Some of the test vehicles have a handling problem, that's known and been reported. But now they've found some problems in the welding of the frame on the LS, and have temporarily halted production of it while they come up with a fix. This will probably force a recall of every LS out there, and will undoubtedly delay the Thunderbird even more, maybe to a 2002 model. You can read the full article from the Detroit News and Ford's email here. (Source: Brian G. 4/1/00)
We've got confirmation that the red concept car is at the Dallas Auto Show. (Source: Jerry B. 3/29/00)
Nobody had any input to my questions, so suffer if you didn't let yourself be heard. Sorry! Anyway, Mike D. sent in something I'd missed when pricing what a top of the line Thunderbird would go for: the removable hardtop. Right he is! I can see Ford charging $1000 to $3000 for this option. Here's a new shot of the red concept out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Take a close look at the chrome around the rear license plate. Do you notice something? No? Okay, I confess. I made that up to build up space. The picture is actually of Richard B.'s snap-together model. I think he did a very good job. Anybody else who may have done it in a different color besides the red, yellow, or black that is out there now? I'd love to post 'em!
Next up, from an anonymous source comes confirmation that there are three concept vehicles out there. The yellow was first, then the red one, and then the black. Also, the black concept's interior may get a makeover to try something different. Maybe an all-black scheme? Don't know, we'll have to wait and see.
For those of you in the Dallas area, Michael M. reports that one of the concept cars is scheduled for the Dallas Auto Show March 29 to April 2 at the convention center. Couldn't find a decent website to link to it. Sorry!
And I've saved the best for last! Rodrigo P. alerted me to this article at the Blue Oval News published today. The pre-production run for the Thunderbird is scheduled for May of this year! These will be evaluations models, so expect some really good spy shots soon! I'll be sure to post or link to them when they become available! (Source: Mike D., Richard B., Michael M., and Rodrigo P. 3/27/00)
More model information for you all! Richard B. reports that he has seen two models available at your local discount stores. One is a 1/24th scale die-cast metal. He bought the other one from Revell; $8.99 Snap-Tite (snap together) 1/25th scale molded in red plastic with dark gray or black for the interior pieces. It doesn't have an engine, probably since it is a beginners model. But, from my modeling days, I could make a snap together look pretty sharp. He's going to send me some pictures when he finishes.
Now another bit I want to discuss. I'm seriously considering moving this website (and all mine actually) to homestead.com. I've got a couple reasons to do this.
First, it saves me the trouble of changing everything if I ever have to move. Moving it to a non-local site means that I can move willy-nilly and you'll never know the difference except for brief periods of non-news. This means that the site will stay up more or less forever since I'm lazy and wouldn't the effort to remove the site.
Second, this will also allow me to jump onto a DSL line. I don't know how websites work with DSL, can someone enlighten me? I can't find much information, and think that I'd have to host the site on my personal computer. That gets back into the effort thing again if I ever buy a new computer, plus I'd have to keep the connection open. The prices around here are $39.95 a month, plus a $200 fee, but a free DSL modem if you sign up for a year. That's very tempting.
Third, and probably most important, homestead.com appears to be a great place. They say that they don't add advertising to the website. I've always been against advertising on my sites because of the loading time, so this is a major plus. They do have a little tiny bar across the bottom, but it's website related and not advertising anyone except themselves. No popups. And they also don't limit the number of sites I can have, and at 16 megs a pop, I can't imagine ever exceeding that. Okay, I can, but that's with a different subject. My own local ISP limits me to 5 megs. Finally, they've got chat rooms and guest books, which might be of interest to some of you.
So here's what I'd like, assuming of course you're not lazy like me and will actually respond to my questions. Is DSL worth the price, and for those of you on their service, is homestead.com any good? Let me know! I'd really like to hear from you! Oh, and sorry if you got your hopes up for big Thunderbird news. (Source: Richard B. 3/17/00)
Gee, have I ever told you how big an idiot I am? Turns out there HAS been a spy shot published, and it DID get sent to me! Boy, is my face red. It's not much of one, but here it is from page 38 of Feb 2000 issue of Popular Mechanics. Got camouflage all over it. Sorry Dave! Let the public whipping begin! Dave gets to go first! Also, I've updated the length (186 in) and wheel base (107 in) of the Thunderbird from information on Popular Mechanics website. (Source: Dave L., Popular Mechanics 3/14/00)
Okay, my mistake! Both Jeffrey S. and Jerry B. wrote to remind me that the red prototype had a black interior, and sure enough when I go to the Wieck website (see 3/6/00 entry) there's the picture of the red prototype with black interior. I should say it "has" not "had", since Ernie A. saw it at the Cincinnati Auto show a few weeks ago. Okay, one mystery solved, so here's another one for you. Jeffrey recalls seeing a video at Ford World where they showed a white Thunderbird. Now, I have seen a picture of a "white" one, but I was told later that it was a black and white photo of the yellow car. Now, can someone remember if this video was black and white at that part? Or for that matter, has anyone seen IN PERSON a white prototype?
You know, another question pops into my head. Where are the spy shots?! Supposedly, if they've found that the production version is having handling problems due to the shorter wheel base, there is at least one test vehicle. I would think that Ford would have made several test cars. Are you telling me no one has taken a spy shot yet? If anybody knows of any, let me know! (Source: Jeffrey S., Jerry B., Ernie A. 3/14/00)
I've got one vote for, and two against the black prototype's paint job. Greg H. says that he agrees. Didn't see any red paint under the black, but did notice lots of scratches. Diane C. disagrees, and says it looked fine. She also said that she'd heard that the first color off the line would be turquoise. I may not be familiar enough with the production process, but don't most lines have the capability to run several colors at once? Maybe this is just with larger lines, and since the Thunderbird is a smallish production run, they will only use one paint setup at a time. (Source: Greg H., Diane C. 3/12/00)
It appears that there is more than one model kit out there (and I'm not including the pre-made Maisto model) There was somebody at one time that had a website dedicated to Thunderbird models. If anybody has the link, I'll add it to the list up above. Some prototype sightings. Jim L. states that he saw the yellow prototype at the Columbus International Auto Show in Ohio the weekend of March 4-5. The black prototype was at Atlanta this week. Kristin M. states that the paint job looked really poor, and now I'm almost for sure that it is the red prototype that they painted black. Unless of course someone has seen the red one lately? When somebody sees the black one next, if you can, check to see if you can see any red underneath the black paint somewhere. Probably not on a show car, but can't help to look! Or ask the guy there! (Note to Kristin: I can't respond to your email, they just bounce back! Sorry! And thanks for the info!)
Kristin also says that the Ford rep there, and he said that there would be a $35,000 base version, with the top of the line going for $40,000. Huh? From what news we've seen, there's only one engine and no known performance packages. How can there be a "top of the line" model on a single configuration car? So, using the LS as a guide for what extras can be added and their price, let's add up what can be added. I'm ignoring the LS's sport package, as I can't imagine them leaving a sports package as optional equipment on a sports car! Okay, I take that back, I CAN imagine Ford doing that, but I'll ignore it anyway.
There's the convenience package for $850 (memory seats, moisture sensitive wipers), an Alpine stereo system for $565, $595 for either the dash mounted or glove box mounted 6 disc CD player, Advance Trac for $725, cel phone with RESCU for $960, engine block heater for $60, and heated front seats for $290. There won't be (in my opinion) any tri-coat paints (extra on LS) nor can you stick a moonroof on a convertible. That's a total of $4045. Okay, so maybe you can push this car up close to $40,000. Still, I don't consider adding all the options as "top of the line", just fully optimized. But that may just be me. (Source: Pete M., Jim L., Paula B., Kristin M. 3/11/00)
For those of you who can't get enough pictures, Angelo R. suggests www.wieck.com. If you search for "Thunderbird", you'll find almost 100. They seem to go from latest to earliest, and you can even find pictures of the older model 'Birds as you go deeper. Just curious, but has anyone seen the yellow prototype lately? I think they painted it. And a source who wishes to remain anonymous says that no news has been posted on Ford's media website either. And finally, for those of you in the Atlanta area, you can see the prototype at the Atlanta Journal Constitution International Auto Show being held March 8 to 12 at the Georgia World Congress Center. Click on the link for more information, although it's a bit hard to find, and doesn't say what prototype T-Bird will show. (Source: Angelo R. and tbs, 3/6/00)
Minor correction from Marc P! The model kit mentioned yesterday is metal, not plastic like I'd assumed. He also said that it's pre-painted yellow, snap together, and does not come with the hard top. Next, Angelo R. says that Road & Track has put out an entire guide on Ford, and that it's got a feature and pictures of the Red prototype. (Source: Marc P. & Angelo R. 3/2/00)
Has it really been nearly two weeks since an update? Sorry about that! But so little news seems to be coming now. But, I've got some info for you. Pete M says that he saw a plastic model kit of the new Thunderbird at Wal-Mart. I'll have to check that one out, but maybe somebody already has it and can send a brief review? Pete said it didn't look like it would be too revealing, but you never know. Might be a good way to see what it would look like in different colors. I'm curious about white, which would be the color I'd pick. (Source: Pete M. 3/1/00)
And the LS media machine continues. Got a "Road & Track Guide to the All-New Lincoln LS". I doubt that they'll be doing the same for the Thunderbird, since Lincoln's trying to get a new generation enthused about their vehicles. Anyway, the brochure has a picture of the LS on the front in red, and I must say it looks nice. Inside are a couple sketches of concepts that were done. Of interest to Thunderbird fans is the cutaway drawing of the V-8 engine, which should be the same that's going into the Bird. I've added some information in the "Semi-Facts" section above in red. But what's going to get me into the showroom is the offer that came with the brochure. It's not much, just a free "Cirque du Soleil Dralion" CD, but hey, ITS FREE! What can I same, I'm easily bought. Course, you have to have the certificate in order to get the CD, so don't bother rushing out to the Lincoln dealer expecting one. (3/1/00)
For those of you in the Chicago area, the Chicago Auto Show has the black T-bird prototype on display. John C reports that it's corded off rather severely, and it's almost lost in the crowd. (Source: John C. 2/17/00)
Now we have some news, albeit not too good. But nothing we weren't already accepting. Anyway, the six month slip in the production line of the new Thunderbird now has some reasons behind it. First, the T-Bird has a shorter wheel base than the Lincoln LS that it is based off of. This is causing problems with rigidity, leading to vibration and handling issues. Second, the LS has seen a huge demand for the same V-8 engine that the Thunderbird will use. So, even if they did start the line today, there would be a shortage of engines. Well, okay, there's already a shortage, but another line would make it worse. So it looks like the slip is here to stay, and if they can't fix the problems soon, maybe we'll all have to wait a little longer. (Source: Kenneth A. 2/13/00)
Well, I hope you didn't get your hopes up too much. I don't have any news to report. So, that in of itself I guess is news. Yeah, yeah, lame I know, but I can't have you all thinking I got hit by a bus or took a long walk off a short pier. Just a quick, "Yes, it's not your imagination, there is no news" sort of thing. Sorry! (2/10/00)
Got some news for ya! From an anonymous source, the Job 1 date has changed to May 2001. The colors available at first will be black, white, red, yellow and silver. Nieman Marcus editions will come out in Dec 2001 in black and silver. The source also said that there would be more powerful engine in July 2001, but I think they meant 2002. Then, Michael H. informs me that he was at a dealer who said that Ford plans on producing brochures on the Thunderbird this June. So, little bit of bad news, and a little bit of good news. (Source: Anonymous, Michael H., 1/31/00)
At the LA Auto Show, Gary N. had the chance to talk to the Ford reps about the Thunderbird. He reports that they told him that the production has slipped to be available Spring of 2001, making it a 2002 model year vehicle with a production run of 30,000 and a price tag of $40,000. Looks like we may be waiting a bit longer for the car! (Source: Gary N., 1/22/00)
I was going to put the spy shot of the production version but decided not to since it really doesn't show anything. It's covered in cloth with material to break up the outline. Of note is that the turn signal lights in the front fender appear round (it could be camouflaged) and that it has the pull type door handles like the LS. Mike P. sent me some pictures of the red prototype that was shown at the LA Auto Show this week. The pictures don't show a lot that hasn't been seen before, but this picture shows the latch for the removable hard top. Of note, I didn't see any sun visors in the picture, so things will probably change a little on the production version. (Source: Dave L., Mike P., 1/15/00)
Dave L. reports that the February 2000 issue of Popular Mechanics has a picture of the production version undergoing testing on page 38. I have the picture, but have company for the week. So, I'll put it up when I get the time next week. Feel free to continue sending information! (Source: Dave L., 1/9/00)
Here's a link for some more pictures of the yellow prototype, along with the letter from Jim O'Conner of Ford to the dealers regarding the production Thunderbird and how they're not to accept deposits that was sent out in September 99. (Source: Richard D., 1/4/00)
The Blue Oval News has set up a Thunderbird Forum in response to many requests. It's currently down at the bottom, so you'll have to scroll down a ways. Enjoy! (Source: BON, 1/2/00)
GREAT news! I've been sent the address where you can see ACTUAL production pictures! Check it out here! (Source: Will H., 1/1/00)
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