Ford Thunderbird

The Ford Thunderbird is a sporty two-seater car manufactured in the United States by the Ford Motor Company. It entered production for the 1955 model year, and unlike the similar Chevrolet Corvette, the Thunderbird was never sold as a full-blown sports car. Ford described it as a personal luxury car, which as a result then became a new market segment. In 1958, the Thunderbird gained a second row of seats which was the first of many times that it would be increased in size. Following generations became larger until the line was downsized in 1977 and again in 1980. Sales were good until the 1990s, when large 2-door coupes such as the Thunderbird became unpopular; production then ceased after 1997. In 2002, Ford took another stab at it and a revived 2-seat model was launched. It only survived three years and was discontinued at the end of the 2005 model year. Three men are generally credited with creating the original Thunderbird: Lewis D. Crusoe, a retired GM executive lured out of retirement by Henry Ford II; George Walker, chief designer and a Ford vice-president; and Frank Hershey, a Ford designer. The concept was for a two-passenger open car, with a target weight of 2525 lb (1145 kg), an Interceptor V8 engine and a top speed of over 100 mph (160 km/h). This of course was not that unrealistic for the time. Crusoe saw a painted clay model on May 18, 1953 that he thought aligned well with the vision. This clay model also corresponded closely to the final car. Thus, production was set in motion, and a few months later, the first models were rolling off the assembly lines. In reality, the Thunderbird had a great few decades but was not redesigned to stay current and fresh, thus causing it to fall off the radar screen with buyers.