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2005 Ford Thunderbird

Do The A&W Waitresses Still Roller-Skate To Your Car?

     Ford was on to something when they introduced the T-bird concept back in 2000. Then they waited until 2002 to release it. Orders came quick and the early ‘Birds were gobbled up by graying Baby Boomers. Then the lust disappeared. All those who remembered the classic T-bird had theirs already and Ford just couldn’t bribe the young’uns into taking one. So this latest model has sailed along smoothly, the winds of time, unfortunately, not in the ‘Bird’s favor. The reign of the Thunderbird ends this year—again. The flight was to be a short one and lack of sales has not spurred a model year extension. So we found it necessary to take one last cruise before this bird joined the Dodo.
     Ford obliged by sending us a Cashmere Tri-coat metallic 50th anniversary edition. The unabashed retro styling remains unaltered from the T-bird’s inception. It is the styling that appealed to so many then and still does. Only problem is, they all have their 2002 and 2003 models pristinely placed inside the garage under the premium knit car cover loaded with mothballs; they don’t need an identical 2005 model upgrade. It is the styling that unapologetically draws upon the ’50s styled ‘Bird with the huge grille upfront, non-functional hood scoop, afterburner taillamps, rearward sloping beltline, and had Ford sent us the removable hardtop, port hole windows.
     Under those smooth, round fenders lay the underpinnings of the Lincoln LS, another car that Ford is, unfortunately, slowly loosing interest in keeping up to par. This foundation with the proper structuring is quite taught; unfortunately, the car literally feels as though someone took a cutting torch to the roof of a good coupe and left it as is. The Ford press kit accurately describes the Thunderbird’s ride as relaxed sportiness, and though no one really expected a sports car, the emphasis is definitely on the relaxed part of that statement. She’s as wiggly as a bowl full of Jell-O over Michigan roads. It’s rather difficult to see out the rearview mirror when the whole windshield cowl is going all willy nilly. A lazy transmission tops off the tranquil mood. To the credit of the powertrain, the 3.9-liter V8 powering the T-bird is potent, with 280hp on tap. Burying the accelerator in the floor mat yields a growl of exhaust noise and a whoosh of mechanical bits scurrying the ‘Bird along. Sadly, the tranny does not keep up with the potential of this engine. Yes, it had the manual-shifting mode, but clear my thoughts on this feature have graced these pages before.
     On the other hand, tooling around in a heritage inspired ragtop is all right. Typical T-bird owners are of the empty nest variety, but there is something to be said of being young in this car. All the old men pay attention. They like the car because it looks like those of their youth. Gas station stops soon become trips down memory lane. They all want a ride, they love the smoothness of the tranny, the isolation from the road irregularities and the overall style. Being in good graces with old men is never a bad thing.
     It is just a Thunderbird after all. But then again it is a sweet escape. You and the misses can get away without the trouble of the guys butting in were you to own, say, a Corvette. Oh darn, there are only two seats, your parents will have to meet us at the restaurant, Honey. When it comes right down to it, if it’s just you and the little lady, the top is down and the stars are out and you’re sitting at the local A & W, how can life get any better? Perhaps said Corvette (experience talking), but that usually gets the inner enthusiast fired up and draws attention away from the little lady part. Don’t plan on escaping for much more then a weekend either, because the trunk, though wide, is very shallow, capable of holding maybe a pair of duffle bags and a change of shoes. The upside to that means travel light, travel often!
     The Thunderbird plays its part well, it appeals to those who remember the styling of the original and to those who yearn for stories of the cars of the good ol’ days. It is a golden oldie built with the reliability of modern technology. By the time you’re reading this, production will have ceased and the 2005’s will slip into the hands of collectors and the pages of history books. For those models left on dealer lots, a Thunderbird like ours can be had for $44,430 including delivery charges. A bit steep to most, but to the certain someone, a real deal. In retrospect, our flight with this last ‘Bird was a smooth one.


The Good:
Smooth ride, timeless styling, tickets for two please!
The Bad:
Lots of cowl shake, lots of cowl shake, lots of cowl shake.
The Verdict:
Retro done right!

Photos by Jason Muxlow

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