The “Inspirational Yellow” Concept Thunderbird was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show

Sunday 3rd January 1999

The “Inspirational Yellow” Concept Thunderbird was introduced at the Detroit Auto Show. Ford had discontinued the Thunderbird model in 1997 after more than 40 years. Not only was it’s styling a direct homage to the original Thunderbird, it was a return to the basic two-seater concept. This car was such a sensation that Ford immediately contracted to have two more cars built for the show circuit – one in red and one in black. Both were ready by March 1999 for the show circuit in Europe. Hoods and trunks were kept closed during shows. Ford did not yet have an engine ready to show with these cars. These three show cars were shown at various shows around the US, Canada, and Europe. After a hiatus of several years, Ford introduced a new Thunderbird for 2002. The eleventh generation Thunderbird was built at Ford’s Wixom Assembly Plant and was based on the company’s DEW98 platform, which was shared with the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type. Though the Thunderbird’s exterior styling was unique relative to its platform mates, the interior, particularly the appearance of the dash area, instrument panel, and steering wheel, was very similar to that of the Lincoln LS. The sole engine of the Thunderbird was a Jaguar-designed AJ-30 3.9 L DOHC V8, a short-stroke (85mm) variant of the Jaguar AJ-26 4.0 L V8, making 252 horsepower (188 kW) and 267 lb·ft (362 N·m) of torque. The engine was mated to Ford’s 5R55N 5-speed automatic transmission. With sales dropping off significantly after its first model year, Ford decided to make the 2005 model year the Thunderbird’s last with no scheduled successor. The last one rolled off the assembly line on July 1, 2005.

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