by Rick Smith
Today, Ford Motor Company announced that the Thunderbird is returning as a concept car at the North American International Auto Show. Since its introduction nearly 50 years ago, the Thunderbird has become an icon in the popular culture with its inclusion in songs and movies. This new concept car will draw from this long and distinctive heritage. Many design elements from the early models will be included such as the hood scoop and the trademark Thunderbird badge.
The windshield is set at a rakish 64-degree angle and is surrounded by a wide band of chrome, as are the characteristic, round, porthole windows. This round theme continues throughout the vehicle with its round head lamps , fog lamps and tail lamps. But the huge 18-inch, aluminum wheels and P245R50-18 tires make this truly a modern car of the new millennium.
Even the car's interior imparts a nostalgic theme by combining modern materials with the two-tone interiors of the past. Interior door panels are covered in black leather with yellow leather inserts and brushed aluminum accents. The dashboard displays white gauges with turquoise pointers, reminiscent of the Southwest, where, according to Native American legend, the Thunderbird ruled the sky and was a divine helper of man. This theme continues with the aluminum-finished Thunderbird badge also featuring a turquoise insert across the wings and is placed prominently on the vehicle's nose, rear and across the front seat backs. This sounds like a wonderful car and I hope this classic reincarnation also has one of the other features of the original Thunderbird - speed and performance. I remember my father telling me about a co-worker driving him home from work and punching the accelerator ahead of an underpass. To this day, my Dad can't remember if they went through this underpass or over it. It's that slam you back in the seat acceleration I hope this new model has.
Dated: January 4, 1999