Ford’s plan to sell a BMW-influenced touring coupe at 1989 Taurus GL prices likely failed for three reasons: the resulting car was big, went over budget, and insert unoriginal statement about SUVs killing coupes. Not that Thunderbird owners knew this sad situation, but karma was unkind to both the MN-12 platform and the career of its creator, Tony Kuchta. Which is a shame, since this clean-sheet redesign sported premium car performance without the luxury of a global platform parts bin.
The low-slung, fastback’d, and high-tailed Thunderbird looked distinctly American, likely designed with
NASCAR CAFE in mind: Remember that the range-topping Super Coupe’s staggeringly tall 2.73:1 axle ratio kept it from flying miles above its global competition. Cruiser gears aside, the sheetmetal was shockingly minimalist in the details.
Let’s see how little there was to the 1990 Ford Thunderbird, in 35th Anniversary guise.
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Neat to see the close-ups of the Thunderbird SC's design. I remember a guy who owned an Aerobird and ordered an SC when it was announced, but apparently there were delays with producing the supercharger, so he got a Acura Legend coupe instead. Then another Legend coupe after the first was stolen...
This is the Thunderbird the 2000s reboot should have done. Tidy this up to modern standards without the modern gimmicks (i.e., toss bumps and more grill on everything) and keep the back seat usable with headroom --and sell it at a price that not just retired professionals can afford. ---aka be to BMW, Mercedes and such what Corvette has always been to GTs and supercars: the democratized option for the masses.
I had a 1990 T-Bird SC, white on black fully loaded with 5spd trans. My wife had a 1990 Mercury Cougar XR-7 same supercharged 3.8 but with the AOD in bright red over grey. These were fantastic cars! I couldn't care less about the gaps or exposed screws, yada yada. Both cars proved very reliable (306,000km's on the Bird) with no major repairs. The trick to these cars was to fix Ford's very poor, very restrictive exhaust system. Once you opened up the bottle neck these cars became completely different animals and with the 3:55 gears in the Bird they walked away from more than a few surprised people.
Our neighbor across the street bought a brand new red Thunderbird SC with every option - sunroof, spoiler, tinted windows, CD player, and a grey leather interior with power adjustable bolsters - it was the coolest car on our street, and 180 degrees opposite from his previous car - a brown early 80's Oldsmobile 4 door. It was also the car that made me want to own a Ford.