Ford's Thunderbirds are go at Design Museum

Story by Jack Foley

ONE of the most talked-about cars of the year, according to motoring enthusiasts, is the 2002 Thunderbird, Ford's reincarnation of the original late 1950s T-Birds, which are still seen not only as classic cars but as cultural icons of that era.

When the 2002 Thunderbird went on sale in the US, Ford had already received orders for all 25,000 models scheduled to be made in its first year of production.

It also entered a heated debate about the role of retro-styling in automotive design. The Design Museum in SE1 is now offering Thunderbird enthusiasts the chance to take a look at the sought-after vehicle, as well as one of the 1950s classics that inspired its design.

As part of the exhibition, J Mays, global design director of Ford, will be speaking at the Design Museum in an evening Talk on August 22, which should be a must for all Ford fans.

So why is the Thunderbird such a highly-regarded classic?

According to (a website which charts the history of the motor car, accessed via the link below), the Ford Thunderbird has earned its place in US history as an 'icon of automotive technology'.

Introduced in 1955, it was intended to compete with the Chevrolet Corvette and was a two-seat car with clean styling, creature comforts, and V8 refinements. In 1955, the Thunderbird was available with a 193-212 horsepower 292 cubic-inch V8, while in 1956 and 1957 the Thunderbird was available with a 215-340 horsepower 312 cubic-inch V8 or the original 292 cubic-inch engine.

Since then, a new Thunderbird has been put on the market every three years or so, and has continued to attract acclaim from motoring enthusiasts across the US and the world.

The all new 2002 Thunderbird features modernized design elements from the '55-'57 and '61-'62 Thunderbirds. These elements include port-hole windows, a hood scoop, rounded headlamps, tail lamps and fog lamps, and the Thunderbird's trademarked badging.

The concept car, which was originally deemed the '2001 Thunderbird Concept', is now in production and it has everyone talking. So much so, that Motor Trend Magazine has named the 2002 Thunderbird the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2002.

Thunderbird fans can judge for themselves by visiting the Design Museum until September 8.

The Design Museum is located at 28 Shad Thames, London, SE1 (opposite Tower Bridge). Tel: 020 7940 8790.

RELATED LINKS: Click here for the official Ford Heritage Thunderbird site...
Click here for a comprehensive history of the Thunderbird...

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