2004 Thunderbird New Car Test Drive
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.
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.