The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Thunderbird claims it to be a “huge head turner.” That’s likely owed to its snazzy whitewall tires and what appears to be a matte vinyl wrap. Let’s see if its price can turn a few heads as well.
For those of you taken aback by the diesel engine in yesterday’s 2014 Porsche Cayenne, keep in mind that Porsche and diesel engines go way back. In fact, Ferdinand Porsche was designing both tractors and an unusual air-cooled diesel two-cylinder engine to power them at the same time he was creating the Volkswagen Type 1.
That diesel and Volkswagen connection came full circle in the Cayenne, as it was one of the models involved in the notorious emissions scandal of Porsche’s corporate parent. A negative history may not have had an effect on the Cayenne’s current desirability, but its $20,999 price did. That SUV fell in a 62 percent No Dice loss, with comments that weren’t much more welcoming.
You are no doubt familiar with the oft-quoted line from the movie Mean Girls in which the bossy girl demands that her hanger-on friend “stop trying to make fetch happen!” As those of us who have seen the movie know, fetch most certainly is not going to happen.
A similar situation afflicted the Ford Motor Company in the early 2000s when it attempted to “make the Thunderbird happen” with the reintroduction of the model following a five-year absence. Ford made a couple of tactical errors with the Thunderbird’s return, and the nameplate was dropped once again in 2005 after just four-years.
What did Ford get wrong with the retro-Bird? First, they made it a two-seater. That aped the original Thunderbird, introduced as a 1955 model, which was a two-seater. For 1958, however, Ford redesigned the model to make room for back seats. Do you know what happened? Sales quadrupled. The 21st century Thunderbird faced a similar demand limit by being only a two-seater.
The other mistake Ford made was to introduce a low-slung boulevard cruiser in a market more interested in the commanding seating position and extensive plastic body cladding that only an SUV or crossover could provide. In the end, Ford sold fewer than 70,000 of the 11th-generation Thunderbirds over the span of its entire run.
Amazingly, that run ended over a decade and a half ago. That makes this 2003 Ford Thunderbird officially an old car. As such, it’s no surprise that its owner, or owners, have made some modifications to it along the way.
Many of those are obvious from the pictures in the ad. The car has a matte black finish that appears to be a vinyl wrap of some sort. You can see the glossy black factory paint in the door jambs and under the hood. Along with that custom finish, the car gets wide whitewall tires and red-painted Thunderbird logos in the center caps of its chromed factory wheels. Those seem to be the major updates.
The clean-title car comes with a modest 72,000 miles showing, and there are photos with its black soft top in both the raised and lowered positions. A porthole-equipped hardtop was available for this model of ’Bird, but there is no mention in the ad of this car having one.
Ford offered only one drivetrain in this generation of Thunderbird, a 3.9-liter V8 with 252 horsepower and the 5R44E five-speed automatic. This setup, and in fact the whole platform underpinning the car, was shared with the contemporary Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type. Neither of those cars set the sales charts on fire, either.
Red and black upholstery fills the T-bird’s cabin, and that’s enlivened by some bright silver trim. There is some wear evident on the seats along with some fading of the knee pads on the center console. Other than that, it looks pretty good in there, and the dashboard features a design, shared with the Lincoln LS, that has aged pretty well.
The seller says the car is “in great condition inside and out” and further touts that it “runs like a champ and needs absolutely nothing.” A turn-key used car, especially one of a certain age, is always a plus. The issue here is whether the tables have turned on the T-bird’s desirability since it was new.
That will certainly affect the chances of this car selling at its $9,999 asking price. Let’s see if we can help it along. What do you think, is this retro-Bird worth that much cash as it sits, mods and all? Or, is this wrapped-up two-seater a ’Bird that’s not going to fly?
H/T to William H. for the hookup!
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