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The Reason Why Ford Discontinued The Thunderbird
By ALEX HEVESY
For decades, the Thunderbird was a staple in Ford's lineup; in fact, the Thunderbird of the mid-1950s is a quintessentially American piece of car-design history, and is recognized all over the world as an example of good design. The vehicle lasted five decades before ending its run in 2005, but how did such a classic car meet its demise?
By the 1970s, the Thunderbird design had become stale. Gone were the fins and miles of chrome, replaced with straight, boxy cars with hoods long enough to land a helicopter. The Thunderbird ended production for the first time in 1997, by which time it looked a lot like a squished two-door Crown Victoria, which many believed was an egregious transformation.
In 2001, Ford resurrected the Thunderbird nameplate; the 11th and final-generation Thunderbird sported a retro-inspired design, which was either a fun callback to a classic Ford design or a garish monstrosity, depending on who you asked. However, a sad interior, combined with divisive styling, meant the iconic car's best days were behind it.
The Thunderbird’s last iteration shared a platform with the Jaguar S-Type sedan, and although Ford had several good engines to put in it — the legendary 5.0L from the Mustang, and the reliable 4.6L Modular — it instead used a Jaguar V8. Sales dropped, with fewer than 15,000 Thunderbirds leaving lots in 2003, and its last model year was 2005.