2004 Ford Thunderbird 3.9L V-8 from North America
An old dream finally realized
Faults with my 10 year old car. The digital odometer and radio display “wash out” in the sunlight. It could use a cubby for holding spare change - for tolls.
After the trip it developed a misfire due to two failed Coil on Plugs (COPs). This is, unfortunately, a known issue with this engine, but the local Ford dealer replaced them free of charge. Ford has a 10 year extended warranty on these, and my car just made it in under the wire.
Another known issue is the wheels are not the greatest, and tires tend leak air. I have this problem. The tire shop put sealant on the worst offenders. One still loses a couple #s every week or so. I just keep a small compressor in the trunk, and check the tire pressures before I use the car.
As with most American men of a certain age (I started grade school in 1959) I grew up lusting after a two-seater 55-57 Thunderbird, however they were always more dear than I could afford. When Ford brought back the two-seater in 2002, they were still much too expensive for my pocketbook.
But thank goodness for depreciation. A little more than a decade later, these newer T-Birds have dropped in price to a level when I could play. I know a lot of these cars’ first owners are rather bitterly disappointed that they haven’t got up in value as they had anticipated. But for us second owners it is a good thing. Most of them are now over 10 years old and have less than 25,000 miles, and some can found with less than 10,000.
The 2004 I bought this past summer is a high mileage car (for a T-Bird) at 47,000 miles. I got it for $17,500, a good price, but the car didn’t come with the hardtop. I really don’t miss this, as I don’t expect to drive the car very often during the winter.
The car was in good condition, and even had the original Michelin Pilots. The tires still had plenty of tread, but after 10 years they were very hard and beginning to dry rot. A new set of Michelin Energy A/S were the first thing I bought after getting the car. I know these are not the ideal tire for this car, but the Tire Rack had them on sale for $100 each, half the price of the Pilots, and at my age I doubt I will be stressing these tires very often.
As with most used cars, I don’t have a very detailed past history, other than the Car-Fax, which shows it as a one-owner vehicle, which started out in CA and moved to CO. As a matter of routine maintenance, I change all the fluids (except the rear diff), all filters, and put in new plugs.
Like R&T’s Peter Egan, I had a trip in mind when I bought the car. I wanted to go back to visit Louisiana, where I had grown up. So my 80 something year old father and I drove the car back to Shreveport, a 2000 mile trip.
On the trip the car performed flawlessly. All the electrics still work fine, with the exception of the top motor, which needs a little push to lower the top; going up it works fine. I averaged just over 24 MPG on the trip, cruising along at 80mph on the interstates. The speedometer and odometer are accurate as measured by the mile markers and a stopwatch - 45 seconds per mile.
As noted earlier, I averaged 24 MPG for the trip, but on the last leg of my journey, from Amarillo to Denver, it jumped up to 27 MPG. This in spite of the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that the car received an “Italian tune-up”.
In Oklahoma and SE Colorado, US 287 is mostly a two lane highway with infrequent passing lanes. The trucks that travel this road tend to herd up, and several times I had to pass two or three of them at once. I am happy to report the 3.9L V-8 and its 5-speed automatic accelerates effortlessly and quite quickly from 65 to 100 mph.
This car wasn’t designed to be a daily driver and I’ve only ever seen one advertised for sale with over 100k miles. Most of the people who bought them originally, I believe, bought them for investments, and sadly for them it has not paid off. But for those of us who want one to drive and could care less if it appreciates in value - it is a fine car. Despite what those clowns on “Top Gear” said in their “Worst Car Ever” episode.
I expect to put between 3 to 4 thousand miles a year on this car, at most. And it will only see bad weather if I am careless enough to be caught out when I should be driving my daily driver. I hope to keep this car for many years and then pass it on to my son.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd November, 2013
23rd Nov 2014, 03:20
Nice review. Thanks for all the detail and insight.
I drove one of these cars for a day. I agree with your analysis, they excel at their intended purpose - stylish, luxurious transportation with a hint of sportiness and nostalgia.
I agree with your comments on the "Top Gear" show. They were completely off base with this car, because:
1. They do not understand the intended market at all.
2. They relentlessly and unreasonably hate American cars. They even make stuff up to ridicule them.
I welcome justified criticism. But it's unwelcome when it is used simply for comedic effect.