When the Thunbderbird name is spoken, four cars distinctly come to mind: the first generation 1955-1957s, the1961-1963s, the much-loved TurboCoupe of the 1980s, and the final straw for the historic nameplate, the 2002 to 2005 cars. Of course, the generation I left out was the 1977 to 1979 cars. Not because I don't like them, but hoards of other car enthusiasts don't care for them.
The generation that's been made subject of today's post is the M12 generation; introduced in 1988 to replace the "aerobird" that from 1983 to 1988, the 1989 car introduced was a much roomier, much sleeker (and often called bland), and pricier model than its predecessor. The 3.8 V6 was carried over, and the aging 5.0 was replaced with a 4.6 Modular V8 in this model run; to offset the loss of the enthusiast-favorite TurboCoupe, a SuperCoupe made its debut in 1989 and lasted until the 1995 model year; like the "aerobird"'s facelift in the 1987 mode year, the MN12 received a subtle facelift in 1994. The front bumper added two air intakes on either side of the front license plate mount, to freshen up the look (and to coincide with Ford's rounded styling theme that debuted on the 1994 Mustang). Aside from new wheels in for the Supercoupe and new wheels and colors across the board, nothing else was new.
Unfortunately, a slightly altered fascia did nothing to improve slagging sales, and Ford's personal luxury coupe were dropped after the 1997 model year. Did Ford ultimately clip this Bird's wings? No. Not quite. In 2002, the Thunderbird would fly once again, this time spearheading the retro movement which took the automotive industry by storm in 2000, with such marketing gimmicks as the Chrysler PT Cruiser and, ultimately, the final iteration of the Thunderbird.
Being a twenty year car in the rustbelt is no easy task, especially for a vehicle whose residual value was fairly low from the time to rolled off the dealer lot. One one hand, you have owners who preserve their Birds and modify them with a plethora of performance mods culminating in fast-ass boats; the other hand deals with the multitudes of Ford's best luxury coupe that have fallen into the hands of people who view them merely as "transportation". As such, a large portion of these cars have been neglected and are now fairly scarce in unmodified condition.
This example was chosen, not for its supreme condition, but because it represents the typical color and wheel combination that I remember from my childhood. As I remember, this shade of green, called Light Evergreen Frost, adorned practically every single new Ford Thunderbird at Laird Noller. Well, okay, the Supercoupes weren't this color, but still. I've always liked this color, too, which is sort of odd considering it wasn't anything fancy, even in 1994.
Inside, the typical Ford interior hasn't shown its age very well; the seat bolsters were incredibly torn and the dash was cracked in all the usual spaces; but rest assured this has no bearing on vehicle comfort; I didn't get to talk to the owner, but he was surprised that I acknowledged his vehicle, and thanked me for shooting it; I think I made his day!
As always, I did have fun shooting this; pity about the surface rust though; at least it isn't in worse condition. Once the rust starts, it never sleeps; I have a feeling this car might develop severe frame rot soon. Shame, really.