autoevolution

FORD Thunderbird Series/Models Timeline, Specifications and Pictures

Generations: 16
First production year: 1955
Engines: Gasoline
Body style: Convertible (spider/spyder, cabrio/cabriolet, drop/open/soft top)
 

2001 - 2005

With its retro-design look and modern features, the 2001 Thunderbird should have been a blast from the past and revive the brand name, but it was a flop. Ford launched the eleventh generation of the Thunderbird in 1999 as a 2001 model-year. It was based on the same platform as the Jaguar XF or the Lincoln LS. When it unveiled it, the whole market was enthusiastic, but that enthusiasm didn...

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gasoline engines:

  FORD Thunderbird 4.0L 5AT V6 (256 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 4.0L V8 5AT (284 HP)

1989 - 1997

Designed to compete against the finest luxury German coupes on the market, the 1989 Ford Thunderbird was an underrated vehicle. After the car was born, there were huge controversies in the Ford Motor Company, which led to the retirement of Anthony Kuchta, the man behind the project. The car exceeded its target price and its weight. All of a sudden, the T-Bird was the black sheep of the family...

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gasoline engines:

  FORD Thunderbird 3.8L V6 4AT (142 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 3.8L V6 4AT (147 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 3.8L V6 4AT (233 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 4.6

  FORD Thunderbird 4.9

1983 - 1988

Ford built the ninth generation of the Thunderbird on the same Fox-body platform used for the Mercury Cougar, Ford LTD or Lincoln Continental. Ever since the beginning of the Thunderbird, Ford worried about overlapping it with the Mustang, and while the pony-car received more powerful engines, the T-Bird got more features making it a personal luxury coupe. Unfortunately, since it didn't ...

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gasoline engines:

  FORD Thunderbird 2.3L 5MT (190 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 3.8 (142 HP)

  FORD Thunderbird 3.8 (213 HP)

1980 - 1982

The Ford Thunderbird was already at its eighth generation when it was unveiled in 1980. It was a luxury personal coupe produced for 2 years, between 1980 and 1982. While the previous generations were framed into the full-size segment, the 1980 version was a mid-size segments, its dimensions being reduced by 10% and, depending on the powertrain, the Thunderbird was up to 635 kg lighter. The ...

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1977 - 1979

With the oil crisis over, car sales started to rise again, and Ford offered the Thunderbird as a personal luxury vehicle. And it was the most successful generation at that moment. Back in the '70s, after the muscle-car era ended, Ford tried to keep the coupe vehicles on the market and attract wealthier people with the Thunderbird. The car was designed to offer comfort, not sportiness. Bu...

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1972 - 1976

The seventh and largest Ford Thunderbird shook the American car industry in 1972 with its huge size and massive engines. But the 1973 oil crisis deeply cut into its sales. In 1972 the Muscle-Car era was coming to an end, but nobody knew it. The only thing that stood between the big blocks and the customers was the emissions control regulations. But the carmakers were ready for that and fitted...

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1966

It was the last year of manufacture for the fourth generation of the Thunderbird, but it was important for the novelties the car brought. Back in '66, the Mustang got most of the attention of the market. But the Thunderbird was something different. It was built more like a luxury convertible than a sports car. It was more expensive than the original pony-car and offered more comfort than...

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1965

Fighting with its nimble brother Mustang proved to be more challenging for the Thunderbird, and Ford tried to improve the lineup to keep its customers. Every now and then, a carmaker founds itself facing an intriguing problem with two vehicles from its own stable fighting against each other on the market. When Ford faced that dilemma with the Thunderbird and Mustang, it decided to adjust them...

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gasoline engines:

1964

The fourth generation of the T-Bird evolved into a personal luxury coupe, and it stepped away from its previous sporty image. That credit went to the newly launched Mustang. By the mid-'60s, the Thunderbird was already known and respected both on the streets and in car culture. It was the car that made Corvette looks foolish, and it did that while offering a higher level of comfort. Alth...

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gasoline engines:

1961

The third generation of the Thunderbird was a big revolution in the model's history since it came with a completely new design approach. It still remained a personal luxury vehicle, with either a hardtop or a soft top, but it was sleeker. Unlike the second generation, which featured a flat front area, the 1961 T-Bird was a work of art penned by Bill Boyer. The car was unveiled in 1960 as...

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1960

The second generation of the Thunderbird was born in the jet-age era, where the new fighter-jets heavily influenced car design. Also known as the Square-Bird, the second generation only lasted for three years between 1958 and 1960, and it was an absolute success. Ford tried and succeeded in placing the T-Bird in the personal luxury car segment. The car was big and comfortable, and it also had...

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1959

Ford tried to keep the T-Bird momentum and, even though it made some changes for the 1958 model year, it introduced new ones in 1959. The sales were high, and Ford's management was happy. Even though the car was not on the cheap side of the market, the Thunderbird remained on top of many people's wishlists. For the 1959 model, the blue-oval management decided that it had to turn its...

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1958

There was a time when cars were just cars. But by the end of the 50’s, things seemed to change. People were looking for more luxurious cars with distinctive exterior designs. The 1958 Thunderbird was one of them, Ford’s first 2-door personal luxury car. Robert McNamara, president of Ford Motor company, was the first automotive executive to study trends, having a great ability to anticipate...

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gasoline engines:

1957

The first generation of the Thunderbird was not that successful as Ford expected, and the design team was called into action for a final refresh. Ford was stunned. In 1955 it sold more T-Birds than in 1956, despite the fact that it didn't get a full-year sales calendar for its new, then introduced model. The marketing department already noticed that customers asked for a four-seat versio...

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1956

Designed and named by Ford as a "personal car," the two-seat Thunderbird was upgraded in 1956 and fixed some of the 1955 models. By today's standards, it might be called a mild facelift. Hence General Motors introduced the Corvette in 1953 and named-it a "sports car" Ford didn't want to use the same words and called it "personal car," but it was, in fac...

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1955 - 1977

Ford’s response to the Chevrolet Corvette, the Ford Thunderbird was unveiled to the public toward the end of 1954 at the Detroit Auto Show. Ford realised that the new Corvette was of a great importance in the car industry and had to provide a swift response. Henry Ford II got in touch with Lewis Crusoe, a former GM executive, and asked him to help them develop the new car. Crusoe worked al...

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gasoline engines: