Since the mid 1950s, the Ford Thunderbird has enjoyed a reputation for sporty class and American muscle. Affectionately known as the "T-Bird," the Thunderbird premiered as a two-seat coupe with a promising V8 engine. On top of that, it was affordable for a wide range of drivers, which helped make it a success as the decade came to a close. Shortly after its debut, the Thunderbird became available as a four-seat coupe and boxy convertible before taking on a more aerodynamic shape come the '60s. During the 1970s, the convertible body-style was dropped from the lineup, while the four-door version was outfitted with suicide doors. The model saw a lot of changed to the Ford Thunderbird parts and also also changed size, first becoming larger and then shrunk back down twice before being placed on the Fairmont platform come 1980. Eventually, the Ford Thunderbird was seen more as a sporty economy car that did not produce a whole lot of horsepower, which was certainly seen as an image change. However, by the middle of the decade, Ford got to work and upgraded the engines. Options carried over were a 3.8L V6 and a 4.9L Windsor V8, with the V8 receiving electronic fuel injection. The most impressive configuration in the Thunderbird lineup was the Turbo Coupe. Initially rated between 142 and 155 horsepower, the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe rode on a five-speed manual transmission. Several restyled Ford Thunderbird accessories were on tap come 1987, including a new front-fascia and new headlights. The Turbo Coupe's inline four-cylinder was bumped up to 190 horsepower, as well.
The Ford Thunderbird that premiered for 1989 was considered the tenth generation of the model and featured a new independent suspension for improved handling. Ford unveiled the Super Coupe, which took over for the Turbo Coupe. The Super Coupe featured a turbocharged 3.8L V6 that could produce up to 210 horsepower. In 1991, the V8 engine was brought back and offered between the standard and supercharged configurations. 1994 saw Ford make a bevy of changes to the Ford Thunderbird parts, starting with bringing in a 4.6L SOHC V8 to replace the Windsor 5.0 V8. The Super Coupe also received a boost in both horsepower and torque, and the previous AOD automatic transmission was replaced by an electronically-controlled four-speed automatic. However, following the 1996 model year, the Super Coupe was dropped from the roster and within a year, Ford discontinued production of the tenth generation Thunderbird altogether.
Although it took a break for a few years, the Ford Thunderbird was brought back for 2002. The model went back to its roots as a two-seater available as both a coupe and convertible with retro-styled body accessories and design that harkened back to the '50s when the model debuted. Considered the eleventh generation of the Thunderbird, the car was based off of the DEW98 platform along with the Jaguar S-Type and the Lincoln LS (in fact, most of the Thunderbird's interior closely resembled that of the LS). Only one engine configuration was offered – a 3.9L DOHC V8 designed by Jaguar showed off around 252 horsepower along with 267 pounds-per-foot of torque geared to a five-speed automatic transmission. Successful right off the bat and a hit with critics, the Ford Thunderbird was named Motor Trend magazine's 2002 Car of the Year and earned a nomination to Car and Driver's Ten Best List. In 2003, the engine was upgraded with variable-valve timing and Electronic Throttle Control, upping the horsepower to 280 while increasing the torque to 286 pounds-per-foot. The Thunderbird was credited with demonstrating a nice kick in performance that American drivers expected with the nameplate. But sales were not as strong as the automaker had hoped and in 2005, Ford halted production of the model.
It doesn't matter what kind of driver you are, when it comes to luxury and performance made in the good 'ole US of A, the Ford Thunderbird is often a name that comes to mind pretty quickly. After all, the vehicle is a superstar. Built for white-knuckle performance and silky-smooth style, the Ford Thunderbird is one of those rare vehicles that is not only a legend, but a presence that keeps growing stronger. It doesn't matter if you lust for fashion, security, or performance, when it comes to Ford Thunderbird parts, CARiD.com has you covered.
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