2003 Ford Thunderbird Reviews

2003 Thunderbird New Car Test Drive


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

Introduced as a 2002 model, the Thunderbird has enjoyed solid sales, but there are important changes to this big-image car for 2003. The Thunderbird has a great powertrain and this year there's more on tap: Horsepower from the 3.9-liter V8 has been increased to 280 and torque to 286 foot-pounds, 28 more horsepower and 25 more foot-pounds of torque than before. That means much stronger acceleration performance. Electronic throttle control and variable cam timing borrowed from the Jaguar engine improve engine performance, power and fuel economy all at once. 

Also new for 2003 is an optional Select Shift transmission, which allows gear changes similar to a conventional manual transmission without a clutch pedal. All-speed traction control is now standard on all models, where last year it was only on the Premium version. A heated driver and passenger seat option has been added for 2003 so you can drive with the top down and still be toasty warm on cold mornings, a pleasant pastime in the Thunderbird. 

Inside, there's a new analog instrument cluster design. Two-speed, variable-interval wipers with a heated wiper parking area are also standard for 2003. A new Saddle interior package includes full leather saddle seats, saddle leather steering wheel insert and a saddle leather shift knob. New exterior colors, Mountain Shadow Gray and Desert Sky Blue join two new interior colors: Black Ink and Whisper White. 


Thunderbird comes in two trim levels: Deluxe convertible ($35,390) and Premium convertible ($36,390). 

A hardtop is available with the trademark porthole. However, the hardtop must be ordered when ordering the car. The hardtop is not easy to remove or install even with two people, so you might consider skipping the expense ($2500) and the storage issues. 

Three options are available for the Thunderbird: a Black Accent Package ($295) featuring high-gloss black accents on the steering wheel and shifter); the Partial Color Accent Package ($595) with color inserts in the seats, steering wheel, and shifter; and the Full Color Accent Package ($800), which adds color accents to the lower instrument panel, center console and door trim panels. 

For spring 2003, Ford Motor Company will be selling 700 Limited Edition 007 Ford Thunderbirds its appearance in the new James Bond film. The 007 edition will have a unique white leather interior and a distinctive Coral paint scheme to match the Thunderbird driven in the Bond film 'Die Another Day' by actress Halle Berry. The Coral paint, similar to the Sunset Coral hue offered on the 1956 Thunderbird, matches the bikini Berry wears in her role as Jinx. The 007 Thunderbird will have a manufacturer?s suggested retail price of approximately $43,000. 

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