“I gotta get outta this town“!
This was the opening song for her 1967 television special “Movin’ with Nancy”, featuring rat pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. (with whom she shared a spontaneous on-air inter-racial kiss, predating the more famous one in an episode of Star Trek), dancer and choreographer David Winters (of West Side Story), and long time writer/collaborator Lee Hazelwood.
The video features a period Thunderbird, one of the last truly small ‘birds, customized in a dark red and non-factory racing wheels. Appropriate for Nancy, provocative and sporty, yet classy.
And be sure to look for the cameo in the video below with The Chairman Himself, aka “Daddy”. Always good to see, and hear, him!
There are 40 or 50 car blogs that we read on a regular basis. Some speak to brands that are of interest to us, and some speak to performance driving. Over the past few years we have also become interested in classic cars, and are looking to restore an interesting classic from years gone by.
One blog caught our attention last week with a posting about the 1967-1969 4-door Thunderbirds. We’ve never owned a Thunderbird, although we’ve driven a few late-model examples and have a collection of books in our library about the history of the car. What we didn’t remember is that the 4-door Thunderbird from those years featured suicide doors. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means the rear doors open forward… so if you happen to fall out you’d be run over by the rear wheels. Mid-60s Lincoln Continentals also featured these types of doors.
Amongst various blogs covering old cars is one named Car Lust. It’s a great read. A range of topics for car enthusiasts are covered here by several authors, although the recurring theme is old cars. Their posting last week about 4-door Thunderbirds was timely because we’d just looked at a 1968 2-door Thunderbird from the same years.
The 2-door Thunderbird is a large car, huge by modern standards. If you’ve owned a classic 60s-era Mustang and a classic Cougar (as we did), then you know how much larger the 69/70-era Cougar was. When we moved from our own ’67 Mustang coupe to our ’70 Cougar XR-7, we went from a 183.6″ long 2900 pound car to a 196.1″ ~3300 pound car. That’s a huge difference, and it was most noticeable when maneuvering thru parking lots (nevermind handling). The 2-door Thunderbird has a 209.4″ wheelbase and, thanks to a full frame design, has a weight of about 4600 pounds. It’s exponentially worse. Yikes!
We found the following example by the side of the road, for sale by its owner, in December 2010. It’s in agood shape and would make a great restoration project. We briefly thought about buying it, perhaps as a flip, although we frankly don’t have the room for it and it deserves an owner who will restore it to the state of originality it deserves.
We think this car must have been in the beginning of a restoration, because the body seems to have been primed with flat black paint. As you can see, everything is present and accounted for, from the landau bars on the vinyl roof to all 4 hubcaps and all the lights. Only the trim strips below the door are missing. This would make a great candidate for restoration. Better yet, after a quick check, the body appears to be free of any rust holes, along with the inner fenderwells. That would be very rare indeed.
The front has some Cougar DNA with the hidden headlights. They probably work: after days parked, they are not sagging or half-open. It’s an easy fix if they don’t, we remember fixing the headlamp doors on our ’70 Cougar XR-7.
Once-upon-a-time, Ford had a sophisticated lightweight aluminum-intensive rear wheel drive platform code-named DEW-98. It was the basis for the Jaguar S-Type, Lincoln LS, and Ford Thunderbird. It was also intended to be the basis for the S197 Mustang, although Ford was afraid that it would be too expensive for a lowly Mustang (instead, all we got was the wheelbase and floorpan). And then little Billy Ford, who thought he could run a corporation, went off on a jihad to kill off anything and everything that Jacques Nasser had put in place – such as this advanced platform, a smaller rear wheel drive platform for Lincoln (exactly what Cadillac is preparing to do now), a move to European Ford platforms for small cars, and lots more. We can only wonder where Ford would be now without the dark years that the ascendancy of little Billy Ford produced.
The DEW-98 platform beat Nissan’s similar FM platform (Infiniti G, M, and FX and Nissan Z) to market and the intention for it’s use was similarly flexible (where the luxury brands using it would keep costs down for the Mustang). With unequal-length control arms front and rear, great geometry, and heavy use of aluminum to keep weight down, the DEW-98 was planned to be the platform of the future.
If only Ford had stayed the course – we’d have an answer for the desperately needed new Mustang platform in 2014, a new Ford of Australia Falcon, and even (in the planned upsized form) a new Lincoln Continental and Mark X. Contrast this to the unsophisticated and heavy Volvo retreads underpinning the large Ford and Lincoln offerings today.
The Thunderbird was the sexiest use of this platform. When it was announced, all sorts of options were planned for driving enthusiasts – that is, more mature driving enthusiasts than most Ford buyers. Planned were a Brembo brakes and handling package (referred to in the Car and Driver launch article), a 6-speed manual behind the V-8, a V-6 option for entry level, and this car – a supercharged V-8 model.
Several prototypes were built… it’s thought that Mr. Nasser still has the one today that he took with him as his going-away gift to himself. The car below is a concept of the intended supercharged model. It probably wouldn’t have appeared until approximately 2006, when updates were planned including a new Thunderbird-exclusive dashboard (announced in an interview with Mr. Nasser). The concept was never road-tested or even driven by car magazines, so we don’t know it’s performance. You could compare it to the similarly-engineered although considerably heavier Jaguar S-Type R.
The V-8 engine was borrowed from Jaguar, with very slightly different specs (to preserve the image of Jaguar exclusivity). Imagine this engine with EcoBoost trimmings, or even replaced by the EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6. An off-the-OEM-shelf Getrag 7-speed automatic transmission would be the perfect pairing. We’d guess that the showcar hood and center-exit exhaust woiuld be dropped before production.
The concept is being auctioned off on August 12, 2010. We can only hope that it’s new owner will allow an instrumented test, or at least a driving impression. We’d volunteer to fly wherever needed with no notice…!
SUPERCHARGED FORD THUNDERBIRD CONCEPT: POWER MEETS PRESENCELOS ANGELES
Jan. 2, 2003 Ford Motor Company today introduced a Supercharged Thunderbird concept car as a possible future addition to its Living Legends line of automobiles. The 2003 Los Angeles Auto Show debut signals the influence of the newly established Ford Performance Group (FPG).
The supercharged Ford Thunderbird concept is powered by a 3.9-liter 390 horsepower supercharged V-8 engine. It was designed to gauge consumer interest in a performance-tuned version of Ford’s iconic two-seat sports roadster. The Supercharged Thunderbird concept was a joint development of Ford’s Living Legends Design Studio and the FPG as a potential addition to FPG’s future product portfolio.
The Supercharged Ford Thunderbird concept combines America’s ultimate dream car with an enthusiast’s ultimate dream engine under the hood, says Mike Zevalkink, Ford Motor Company executive director, Ford Performance Group. Thunderbird offered us an excellent basis to leverage product excitement even further with our performance expertise.
Ford’s supercharged Thunderbird concept is joined on the company’s 2003 LA Auto Show display by two other customized Thunderbird cars. The Thunderbird Chip Foose edition, first shown at the 2002 SEMA Show, features a cut-down speedster windscreen, custom interior and other major restyling modifications. The Thunderbird Roy Brizio edition, also shown at the 2002 SEMA Show, includes unique front, side and rear styling enhancements in a dark green metallic paint color.
With 390 horsepower on tap, the Ford Thunderbird 3.9-liter supercharged V-8 engine transforms the vehicle’s character from a grand touring car into a performance-minded sports roadster. The supercharger setup offers peak horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 390 foot pounds of peak torque at 3,500 rpm, giving the Thunderbird concept car impressive power and acceleration capabilities.
Ford’s powertrain engineers began the supercharged concept’s transformation with a stock 3.9-liter DOHC modular V-8 engine from the standard Thunderbird. Then, all-new aluminum headers were fitted along with a Roots type supercharger to provide the necessary thrust.
Achieving 390 horsepower from a relatively modest 3.9 liters is a testament to this engine’s efficient use of technology, says Dave Szczupak, Ford Motor Company vice president, Powertrain Operations. The raw power of this most powerful Thunderbird ever is intoxicating to sample, but our designers have made the Supercharged Ford Thunderbird just as exciting visually as it is to drive.
The design team, working in concert with the FPG, gave the supercharged Thunderbird concept an equally appealing underhood appearance to match its powerful exterior design. Details like a polished high-flow intake pipe and Gloss Red cam covers with carbon fiber coil covers accentuate the engine design. The â€˜Thunderbird’ script is inscribed across the cam covers.
A carbon fiber radiator cover housing integral supercharger air filters completes the display.
The production Thunderbirdis bold, confident and free, with classic design cues translated into a contemporary design language. The Supercharged Thunderbirdconcept design is more aggressive, refined and powerful, entirely in concert with the powerplant under its hood.
Designers at the Ford Living Legends design studio massaged nearly every body panel on the concept vehicle to provide just the right visual presence for Ford’s most powerful Thunderbird ever. The hood, front fenders and front and rear bumpers are unique, as are the seat and trim materials in the interior.
An all-new power dome hood provides visual differentiation and functional engine cooling for the supercharged engine. Chrome was liberally applied to the 16 forward-facing surfaces on the hood’s twin air extractors, with the engine’s Gloss Red cam covers visible through slots in the louvers.
A new, more prominent grille is finished in the same chrome as the hood’s twin air extractor louvers. Air intakes have been placed in the grille openings used for driving lights on the production Thunderbird. Chromed air intakes also grace each front fender, but are larger in size than the production vehicle, with all-new, cut-down rear view mirrors in color-keyed housings.
Reworked front and rear bumpers complement the one-inch lower suspension, while 18-inch tires on custom, 16-spoke aluminum wheels anchor the vehicle to the road, both visually and functionally. A lockable, two-piece hard tonneaucover conceals the soft, black convertible top underneath.
At the rear, twin exhaust ports exit on either side of the license plate surround, seamlessly integrated into the rear bumper. Rear backup lamps have been moved from the taillights and now reside directly above the exhausts, inset into the license plate housing.
The exterior, painted cool Machine Silver, complements the Supercharged Thunderbird concept’s all-leather, chamois-tinted interior. The Supercharged Thunderbirdconcept also features generous use of polished and brushed chrome on horizontal ribs surrounding the interior, while the center stack is adorned with Machine Silver inserts.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is the world’s second largest automaker, with approximately 335,000 employees in 200 markets on six continents. Its automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Credit, Hertz and Quality Care. The company’s world headquarters are in Dearborn, Mich. Ford Motor Company will officially observe its 100th anniversary on June 16, 2003. Additional information can be found on the company’s web site at ford.com.
This weekend’s 55th anniversary of the Thunderbird raises the inevitable question “what’s next?”. 2 years ago, a lowly salesman at a Ford dealer in Georgia started an unsubstantiated rumor by claiming to a potential customer that there would be a new Thunderbird produced for the 2012 model year. The rumor swept the Internet, but was quickly realized as bunk.
It’s obviously impossible for Ford to produce a new Thunderbird for 2012 – and it’s also undesirable at this point in time. Several things determine this, the first of which is the financial condition of Ford itself. Remember that while money is being made again, the debt of tens of billions of dollars remains to be paid. This prevents investment in a product that would inherently sell in low numbers. Or, does it?
The last Thunderbird was based on Ford’s DEW-98 platfrom, shared with the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type. The Thunderbird was essentially a 2-door Lincoln LS, sharing everything including it’s V-8 engine and driveline, dashboard, and console. As little Billy Ford jealously chipped away at the plans of Jacques Nasser, cutting nearly all his product plans to pieces (including an all-new rear wheel drive chassis to compete against the BMW 3-series standard), the Thunderbird lost it’s planned V-6, supercharged V-8, 6-speed manual transmission, and handling suspension with Brembo brakes. All of these were discussed in Ford interviews, and the handling/brake package was even discussed in the Thunderbird launch article in Car & Driver magazine.
Thunderbird Reference: DrivingEnthusiast: Ford Thunderbird section
A new Mustang was also intended to use the same DEW-98 platform. However, after several years of cost/benefit and market studies failed to justify use of the platform (studies which somehow missed Nissan’s successful leverage of it’s global rear wheel drive FM platform across several cars and crossovers), the new Mustang became simply a very dumbed-down Lincoln LS. So dumbed-down that after the development process nothing was left except the middle of the floor pan and the fuel system architecture. The short/long-arm front suspension was left behind for cost reasons, as was the IRS. An entirely different and much less expensive IRS was planned and developed for the Mustang, but was dropped suddenly by senior management for political and cost reasons. It is still on the shelf waiting as an option; in late 2005 AutoWeek reported that it could be offered since the solid axle car had an inherently rough ride and jumped over any and all rough pavement.
At the moment, lots of different things are happening inside Ford for driving enthusiasts. Some of the more interesting questions revolve around the future of the Mustang. The Mustang has finally received a revised modular V-8 engine (almost 20 years after the original design was introduced) and a class-leading standard V-6 (after a 36 year string of mediocre 4 cylinders and an ancient V-6 engine that dated back to the early ’60s) but suffers from the limitations of the dime-store chassis and the shear size and weight of the car (granted, much less than the Camaro and Challenger, although a far lighter and smaller replacement for the Camaro is in the planning stages).
So the question today is, could a more sophisticated Mustang platform form the basis for a new Thunderbird? Note the Thunderbird is not a Mustang – it wouldn’t be a “dressed up” Mustang GT, it would be designed for a much higher and more mature demographic. According to Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of Global Marketing, “Each generation of the Thunderbird had a unique personality that ushered in a new generation of breakthroughs in design or technology.” Therefore, a new Thunderbird would optimally require a sophisticated chassis and engine, combining the two into a class-standard driving experience. That leaves out the current Mustang chassis, with it’s stone-age suspension. But with the IRS waiting in the wings, and perhaps some improvement to the front strut suspension, Ford would have half the equation.
The other half could be the Ecoboost V-6, with over 400 horsepower on tap (front-wheel drive versions are currently 355 or 365, but an uprated version exceeding 365 is in the pipeline for the Taurus cop car, and a rear wheel drive version is imminent for the F-150) . The EcoBoost engine would be the optional engine, witha direct-injected 3.7 V-6 as standard. Couple both to an off-the-shelf Getrag 8-speed automatic (already designed for OEM use) and you have the makings of a nicely sophisticated drivetrain. The styling and interior should be left to J Mays again, and this time with a budget for a unique dashboard (in the plans for the last Thunderbird, but cancelled at the last moment). We’ll admit that it is frankly hard to see how he could top the ’50s-based last car, and post-50s Thunderbirds would hardly be a good model for a new car.
Added benefit: cost-sharing with the Mustang. And, perhaps, if it isn’t too late, with a new-generation Australian Falcon. But it may be too late for that. Ideas about a global rear wheel drive platform (previewed in the Interceptor showcar) seem to be yielding to higher priorities inside Ford, and that likely means the Mustang will remain an “orphan” platform, doomed to a limited budget. Adding perhaps 40k Thunderbirds to that equation doesn’t help the cost equation very much, and increases the likelihood that the Mustang will remain on a slightly reworked variant of it’s current platform (which could stand to loose 300 pounds and gain a hatchback). There may be a missing element in this equation in the Lincoln MKR showcar, built on a hodgepodge of Interceptor and Mustang parts. But adding that, with sales even less than the Thunderbird, may still not be enough to pay the bills. So in the meantime, there’s nothing to do but wait and watch Ford. If something is under development, it will inevitably be seen on the streets of Dearborn, or on the highways outside of Phoenix. We’ll probably see a Mustang first, and anything else based on it much later.
This weekend saw a 55th anniversary event, hosted by Ford at it’s world headquarters in Dearborn: http://www.tbird55.com/. Almost 300 cars attended.
Ford Press Release and images follows:
FORD THUNDERBIRD OWNERS HEAD TO DEARBORN TO CELEBRATE 55 YEARS OF HISTORY
- The Ford Thunderbird is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year, and owners from across the country are coming together to celebrate the classic car
- More than 300 Thunderbirds will be on display, with owners coming from 30 states and Canada, at Ford World Headquarters from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 26
- The Ford Thunderbird, an American classic, became available to customers on Oct. 22, 1954, and went on to sell more than 4.2 million
DEARBORN, Mich., June 25, 2010 – The Ford Thunderbird is known for its classic design cues and the character of a true American sports car. But it also has 55 years of history to go along with that, and owners across the country are coming together to celebrate.
Nearly 300 Ford Thunderbirds and their owners will be heading to Dearborn, Mich., to honor the 55th anniversary of the classic car with a car show at Ford World Headquarters on Saturday, June 26. Drivers will be coming from more than 30 states, with several coming from Canada.
“The Ford Thunderbird is one of the most iconic products in the history of the automobile,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president of Global Marketing. “Each generation of the Thunderbird had a unique personality that ushered in a new generation of breakthroughs in design or technology.”
The car show will kick off at noon and run until 4 p.m., with Thunderbirds from every year of production on display. The event is hosted by The Water Wonderland Thunderbird Club, The American Road Thunderbird Club and The Thunderbird Nest. “We appreciate the passion so many have for the iconic Thunderbird and the Ford brand. The emotional connection that our owners have with Ford has always differentiated us,” Farley added.
Making of a classic
The Ford Thunderbird went on sale Oct. 22, 1954 – starting a legend that would grow with each generation of Thunderbird cars. Since then, the Thunderbird has included classic two-seaters, roadsters, convertibles and four-door models, as well as hardtops and sedans – more than
4.2 million of them.
For restoration information
Visit the Ford restoration parts website at http://www.fordrestorationparts.com/ to find parts for classic Thunderbirds. Select the model in which you’re interested to load a list of suppliers with contact information.
We’ve been covering engine swaps because we admire the ingenuity and creativity of the builders, and because we want to save information about the swaps for posterity. Some swaps are straightforward (such as a DOHC B18 engine into an early Civic – a combination not offered in the US), some are more complex (a V-8 Ford powered Miata is probably the best example – and we’ve covered several on this site) and some are so ridiculous (V-12 swap into a Miata) that they just have to be done. In almost every case the technical expertise of the builder will be tested, although the quality of the end result varies widely.
Here’s an example of a complex swap. Not at all straightforward – considerable engineering and fabrication had to be performed to adapt an automotive engine for the unique requirements necessary for airplane use. Airplane? You read that right: it’s a home-built airplane with a 1990 Thunderbird Super Coupe (SC) engine.
That engine is Ford’s 90-degree pushrod iron-block aluminum-head V-6 (literally the 4.9 liter V-8 minus 2 cylinders), with fuel injection, an Eaton supercharger, an air-to-air intercooler, and improved internals (including a special head gasket since the resulting cylinder head bolt arrangement was poor at sealing). The EEC-IV computer was used. This engine was introduced in 1989 and made 215 HP/315 torque at 12 pounds of boost. In 1994, the engine received several changes to make 230 HP and 330 lb-ft of torque. 1995 was the last year of Super Coupe production, although the Thunderbird chassis live don thru 1997.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. EAA was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicoptors and contemporary manufactured aircraft. The writer of this blog posting is an EAA member, although for his warbird interests and not for airplane ownership.
Hand-built airplanes are classified by the US Government as “experimental” (mainly due to antiquated laws from the time when all planes were indeed experimental). Airplanes powered by automotive engines are rare and in the definite minority because car engines are engineered for automobile-type packaging, weight, horizontal (versus climbing) usage, and ground environment purposes. Very few can meet the demanding requirements of airplane usage.
But there are the exceptions to that rule and the Thunderbird-powered example here is definitely a one-off: http://www.eaa.org/experimenter/articles/2009-01_bd4.asp The article was written by the builder and owner of the plane. In reading the article, you’ll recognize him as a hobbyist in the same vein as automotive hobbyists – except that his life will very literally depends on his engineering expertise and flying skills. Home-built planes have to pass a long series of inspections and certifications by the FAA before they are allowed to fly – there is no analogy to that process in the automotive hobby.
The images that follow are from the article, and copyrighted by the EAA. You can see that while repackaging of the intake and intercooler assembly was necessary, by and large the engine is recognizable.
Thunderbird fans on the internet are all in a tizzy over a purported plan to introduce a new Thunderbird in 2012. The rumor started with a car salesman in Marietta, Georgia and has had zero substantiation beyond that. One person on the forums is even claiming to be on his way to the dealer to put down a deposit – 4 years early.
My take: as so often happens with the internet, take this one as nothing more than hopeful thinking (although recently we’ve heard form a certain politician how much mileage can be gotten from ”hope” – and we’ll no doubt see in his future that the actual delivery from such BS adds up to exactly zero).
I’m a Thunderbird fan as much as or more than most people, and the 2002 model below would certainly work well for me. I don’t see how Ford could top this one… or why they would want to. The Thunderbird ”DNA” should be very carefully maintained… cherished… protected. I’d like to see a new one happen someday… but only if the exact combination comes together and is treated seriously. And it’s got to be true to the original heritage. The last one was a great try – I saw the press intro in Detroit and was thrilled by it.
Can Ford top their last try? Should Ford even try to? And if they do attempt to, will they manage to keep it current this time? They sure blew it last time: the Sport Suspension (Brembos, firmer suspension) option detailed in the early press briefings was the first thing to be dropped from the plans, followed by the 6-speed manual and then the supercharged engine. And finally the entire car.
And then there is the financial condition of Ford… beyond lousy. Does Ford need a product that would never sell past 25k units a year (and lucky to do that), or does Ford need to invest in the powertrains that will take it to the end of the decade (the Ecoboost V-6 is for the first part of the decade)?
That’s why we won’t see a new Thunderbird in the next several years.
Come back in 4 years and we’ll see. Or more likely 6 or 8. By then the company will be healthy and able to do such a product, or hopelessly lost.
2007.02.28: We’ve written many times before about the unfortunate fate of the Lincoln LS, but of course with the end of production last year it is now too late. The car is gone, but enthusiast clubs remain. Following are two sites of interest:
- Lincoln Luxury Sport Owner’s Club: http://www.llsoc.com/
- Lincoln vs. Cadillac forum: Supercharged LS thread
Ford Motor Company blew it here. The LS had great potential – most of it unrealized. The engineers did a great job, technically state-of-the-art. All aluminum suspension and crossmembers, double A-arms all around. A very sophisticated and expensive build process. The platform was also used for the Thunderbird and Jag S-Type (where it is still in use, and being enhanced for the upcoming replacement) and was originally supposed to be used for the new Mustang – where it’s high volume would have brought costs down across the board. Instead, we got the dumbed-down S197 Mustang. The original design allowed for stretching the platform too.
But, as is usual in Ford Motor Company there wasn’t any serious follow-up (planned updates of a sport suspension and supercharged engine with manual transmission were cancelled) and the dealers blew it as well. The dealers didn’t understand what they, much less the benefits to driving enthusiasts of a well-balanced rear-wheel drive car with sporting suspension tuning. Lincoln product planners also failed by letting the car lanquish.
The LS (“DEW-98″” platform could have been Ford’s own ”FM” platform (the codename of the extremely successful Nissan/Infiniti “Front-Mid” platform that flexibly underpins the 350Z, G, and M products). How many years will have to go by before we again see a flexible and sophisticated rear wheel drive platform from Ford Motor Company?
- The upcoming Australian Falcon replacement might or might not count – it depends on North American production plans and not on North American import plans. It would have to be built here, in quantity, and used underneath at least three products to generate mainstream numbers and economy of scale.
- The S197 Mustang certainly doesn’t count - it’s dumbed-down stone-age suspension ruins any applicability for sophisticated products. Yes, the basic platform was used under the MKR and Interceptor concepts, but you’ll also notice that a double A-arm front suspension as well as an independent rear was added (a typical Ford after-the-fact band-aid approach). Both were inherently a part of DEW-98 platform – designed in from the very start.
We also have to wonder how the Lincoln dealers will explain the benefits to potential buyers of the upcoming twin-turbo V-6 AWD MKS. We’d hate to be in a position where we had to try to sell that against the STS or the newly reworked CTS. Cadillac has it’s act together, and their products get better and better thru constant refinement. Cadillac had lost their way for several years, but recovered and are better than ever. Can Lincoln do the same?
Surely Hau Thai-Tang had a hand in this!
Back in the good old days, when Ford was showing the promise of a truly complete and exciting line of automobiles (and Jacques Nasser was ensuring the Cobra would be an all-around performer, instead of just a straight-liner), Ford gave us the new Thunderbird. Plans were put in place to keep the Thunderbird current and attractive, including a handling package consisting of special tuning and Brembo brakes, and a supercharged engine. This last was an important point – both because of the heritage of the original car and because a halo version of the T-Bird would keep it interesting to potential buyers, as well as attract more people into the Ford showrooms.
Neither option made it into production. Mr. Nasser was let go at the same time as his plans were stomped into the ground by His Highness Billy Ford (these plans even included a 3-series sized RWD chassis for Lincoln!). Nonetheless, to keep interest alive and by a quirk of Ford marketing versus the executive offices, the Supercharged Thunderbird Concept was shown once in public. 390 HP and torque! We morn the loss of this version, as well as the entire Thunderbird line (and it’s stablemate the Lincoln LS).
New to my website, in the Ford Concepts, Prototypes, and Showcars section, the Supercharged Thunderbird Concept. Preview pics below.