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2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

2dr Convertible Deluxe

Starting at | Starting at 17 MPG City - 23 MPG Highway

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  • $37,435 original MSRP
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2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Printable Version

2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

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2004 Ford Thunderbird

Source: New Car Test Drive

Introduction

Driving a Ford Thunderbird on a summer night takes you back to a simpler era. The V8 engine burbles as you cruise comfortably back in time. With two seats, a convertible top, and rear-wheel drive, it sometime feels like driving a vintage car, only it's brand new.

Ford introduced Thunderbird as a 2002 model, but has revised it each year since. Electronic throttle control and variable cam timing improved performance, power, and fuel economy for 2003. Thunderbird's 3.9-liter V8 now produces 280 horsepower and 286 pound-feet of torque, giving it stronger acceleration than the 2002 model. Traction control is standard on all models, and the instrument pod was redesigned. A Select-Shift automatic transmission was added that allows semi-manual shifting. Heated seats were added to keep driver and passenger toasty-warm, even with the top down in chilly weather. For 2004, Ford has restyled the seats, and added three new wheel designs, new appearance packages, and new interior appointments.

Model Lineup

Thunderbird comes in Deluxe and Premium trim. Deluxe ($36,925) is very well equipped, with anti-lock brakes; all-speed traction control; Homelink three-button garage-door opener; leather-wrapped, power tilt steering wheel; power mirrors and windows; AM/FM stereo with in-dash six-disc CD player and clock; center console with storage; cup holders; keyless entry; six-way power driver's seat; two-way power passenger seat; SecuriLock security system; speed control; dual vanity mirrors; dual driver and passenger automatic temperature control; leather bucket seats; second-generation front and side air bags for driver and passenger; and P235/50R17 tires on 16-spoke painted aluminum wheels.

Premium ($37,970) adds heated seats and seven-spoke, 17-inch chromed aluminum wheels; 16-spoke bright machined aluminum wheels are available as a no-cost option.

A removable hardtop ($2500) is available for the Premium model with porthole windows that were a trademark on the 1956-57 Thunderbirds. However, the 83-pound hardtop is not easy to remove or install even with two people, so you might consider skipping the expense and the storage issues.

An assortment of color-coordinated appearance packages is available. The Black Accent Package ($295) features high-gloss black accents on the steering wheel and shifter. A Partial Color Accent Package ($595) is available that places red, yellow, or blue inserts in the seats, steering wheel, and shifter to match the exterior color on selected models. Similarly, the Full Color Accent Package ($800) extends the color accents to the lower instrument panel, center console and door trim panels.

New for 2004 is a Light Sand appearance package ($1000) for Premium models that includes a sand-colored convertible top, seats, steering wheel, shift knob, and optional soft boot, plus cream-colored gauges. This package also features bronze metallic appliques on the instrument panel, door trim, center stack, shifter bezel, and scuff plates. A new Pacific Coast Roadster ($43,995) includes the Light Sand appearance package plus additional features.


Walkaround

The Thunderbird combines design features from early Thunderbirds, including the original 1955-57 two-seater and the 1961-63 Rocket Bird. A V8 badge has been added to the front fenders of 2004 models to further the retro theme. Yet Ford doesn't describe the 2004 Thunderbird as a replica, or retro, because it has so much modern equipment in it, on it and underneath it.

The exterior design is extremely smooth to the eye, although the wind tunnel says it has a drag coefficient of 0.38, high when a Mercedes-Benz sedan cheats the wind with a rating of 0.28.

Thunderbird's 6.9-cubic-foot trunk is big enough to carry two golf bags, but that's about it. This car is made for what Ford calls relaxed sportiness, a term we translate into cruising. It's sporty looking, it's rear-wheel drive, but it is not a sports car by any stretch of the imagination.

2004 Ford Thunderbird
Interior Features

Two reasonably comfortable bucket seats are independently adjustable with power switches located on the side of the seat. But their range of adjustment is limited by the configuration of the cockpit, whose rear bulkhead is close behind the seats themselves. If you are very tall or very long in the torso, the Thunderbird will not fit you well with either the soft convertible top or the removable hard top in place.

The brawny, thick steering wheel, with cruise control buttons built into the spokes, feels terrific in your hands, even after an all-day white-knuckle high-speed cruise; and there is a standard power tilt and telescope feature to help you feel at one with the car.

Instruments are beautifully rendered in the T-Bird. Long, Sea Foam Green needles point the way instead of red, white or black indicators. The shape of the instrument binnacle reflects the gentle dome shape of the '55-56 original. The door panels feature the spread-wing Thunderbird emblem.

The center stack, that portion of the instrument panel at the center of the dash that carries the vents, the sound-system controls and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) controls, is taken almost directly from the Lincoln LS. It's made up of five different small panels, though it appears that one nicely done cover panel for all five elements would have sufficed. The stereo is well designed, and the HVAC controls use big buttons that are easy to operate.

In such a small interior, everything falls readily to hand. You don't have to stretch to reach anything. For couples, especially, the interior is intimate and romantic.


2004 Ford Thunderbird
Driving Impressions

Driving the new Thunderbird an exercise in being seen. It's a beautiful car that attracts attention wherever it goes. But how it goes is just as important, and it does pretty well in this category. There's plenty of power to drive the rear wheels and the traction control ensures a steady grip during acceleration.

The engine is lifted directly from the Lincoln LS, with only a few modifications to make it fit in the car. It's a small V8, only 3.9 liters, less than 240 cubic inches. In fact, it's smaller than the standard V8 in 1955, but it produces more power and meets all the modern criteria for emissions and fuel economy. The 2004 Thunderbird's V8 is rated 280 horsepower, more than one horsepower per cubic inch. The 1955 edition coaxed only 198 horsepower from 292 cubic inches, and that's gross horsepower, with all accessories removed; modern automotive engineers quote only the net horsepower you can actually use on the road.

Just as importantly, the modern engine is smooth, mechanically quiet, and ready to go whenever you need passing power. The engineers have given it an interesting combination of air-intake rush and exhaust thunder. It burbles at idle like an old big-block V8, and that's part of the car's charm.

Ford's five-speed overdrive transmission is responsive. Expect 0-60mph performance in the range of 7 seconds flat, which ain't bad. But then, you're supposed to be relaxing in this car, not racing around from place to place. If it weighed 500 pounds less, the Thunderbird would be quicker; but even with its mostly plastic body panels, the new T-Bird weighs almost 3800 pounds, and it feels like it.

This is a comfortable cruiser on the interstate. A crossbeam behind the seats ties the structure together, and three steel X-braces are bolted to the underbody in the front, middle, and rear. The result is a body structure with the strength and stiffness that helps provide good ride quality and handling. The Thunderbird isn't a sports car, however, and the suspension bobs when working out. Also, there is some cowl shake when driving over bumpy pavement. But for the most part, the all-independent suspension, derived from the Jaguar S-Type, is slick and smooth; and the Thunderbird is enjoyable to drive.

The big, thick steering wheel is comfortable to use and the rack-and-pinion steering is quite nicely weighted, giving you a pretty good idea of what the Michelin P235/50R17 quiet-ride luxury tires are doing at any given time. The car wants to understeer, of course, but there's nothing objectionable in the way it handles. In a couple of mountain passes, where we drove way too fast for the blind corners and tricky turns, the car behaved very well in correction and recovery. Yes, there is body roll, but not much. Traction control is standard, but yaw control or electronic stability control are not available.

Slam on the binders and the four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) work very well, with nice, progressive pedal feel and lots of stopping power in emergencies.

Summary

The Ford Thunderbird is eye candy, a beautifully detailed car in almost every respect. Cruising along in this car can be a joyous experience.

Now that the newness has worn off and there is more competition on the market, Thunderbirds can be had for much more reasonable prices than in the crazy, gotta-have-it-now first year of higher-than-sticker sale prices.

Yet, compared to even the 2002 model, the latest Thunderbird offers much-improved acceleration and passing power, progressive and positive braking, and good, solid handling. It's well short of a real sports car, but it will cruise with anything out there.


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Ford Thunderbird Deluxe convertible ($36,925); Premium convertible ($38,575); Pacific Coast Roadster ($43,995)
Engines: 280-hp 3.9-liter dohc 32-valve V8
Transmissions: 5-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): standard: ABS, front and side airbags, LATCH system child-seat anchors, all-speed traction control
Safety equipment (optional): none
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Wixom, Michigan

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Ford Thunderbird Premium ($37,970)
Standard equipment: traction control, leather seating surfaces, automatic air conditioning with dual controls, perimeter anti-theft system with Securilock, cruise control, power steering, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power decklid release, digital clock, electric rear-window defroster, remote keyless illuminated entry system, automatic on/off headlamps with variable delay, carpeted floor mats, dual covered visor vanity mirrors, AM/FM/6-disc CD, retained accessory power, reclining front bucket seats with 6-way power driver's seat and 2-way power passenger seat, power tilt/telescope steering column, leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, storage shelf behind seats; chromed aluminum wheels
Options as tested (MSRP): none
Destination charge: ($605)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $ 38,575
Layout: rear-wheel drive
Engine: 3.9-liter dohc 32-valve V8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 280 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 286 @ 4000
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 17/23 mpg
Wheelbase: 107.2 in.
Length/width/height: 186.3/72.0/52.1 in.
Track, f/r: 60.5/60.2 in.
Turning circle: 35.9 ft.
Seating capacity: 2
Head/hip/leg room, f: 37.2/53.7/42.7 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: N/A
Cargo volume: 6.9 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 1000 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent, upper and lower control arms, coil-over shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Suspension, r: independent, upper and lower control arms, coil-over shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Ground clearance: 6 in.
Curb weight: 3780 lbs.
Tires: P235/50R17
Brakes, f/r: 11.8-in vented disc/11.3-in vented disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 18 gal.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of July 25, 2003.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges.
N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-392-FORD - www.fordvehicles.com

 

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Passenger On/Off Std
Side Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Ford Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Manufacturer's 7 years / 100,000 miles Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Limited Warranty. See dealer for details.. See dealer for details. Rental Reimbursement $30/day.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 model years or newer / less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 172
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2004 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

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