2002 - 2005 Retro Bird Differences

I plan on purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Thunderbird to go along with the 1955 Thunderbird I currently own. Looking at the different years, they all look the same. Can someone tell me the changes that were made in the different years, so I can tell them apart?

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
 
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The 02 does not have the V8 badge on the side of the car and I believe it has a little less horsepower than the 03 through 05 versions. There maybe more differences but those are the ones of which I am aware. Good luck and happy motoring.
 
I have a 2005 anniversary model, the badge on the front fenders read 50th anniversary 1955-2005. I think mine is number 374 of 1500 made. I'm thinking about selling it.
 
I plan on purchasing a 2002 - 2005 Thunderbird to go along with the 1955 Thunderbird I currently own. Looking at the different years, they all look the same. Can someone tell me the changes that were made in the different years, so I can tell them apart?

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
The 02 engine is slightly different, (throttle body location) 03 through 05 are pretty much the same. The 05 has the 50th emblem on the front fenders, after 03 the center wheel caps are different. I feel that 03 and up are the better choice. The first new model year usually comes with problems that are taken car of with the later years, but all these Birds with the computers and electronics can be troublesome.
 

biddle

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Beginning with the 2003 model year, output was boosted to 280 horsepower by reprogramming the on-board computer and adding variable valve timing. It also featured a redesigned engine compartment with a different style engine cover and air filter configuration. In addition, there were changes to the design and configuration of the exhaust pipes.
The K&N Cold Air Intake will not fit the 2002, and the 2002 Borla Exhausts are often out of stock.
 

Bark624

Well-Known Member
My 02 does have the V8 emblem on the side. The instrument cluster is also different than the other years. Beginning with 03 they added the option of heated seats. My own personal feeling is that the 02 engine is less problematic though I don't have facts to back that up. The recalls for COP problems only included 03-05 models.
 
My 02 does have the V8 emblem on the side. The instrument cluster is also different than the other years. Beginning with 03 they added the option of heated seats. My own personal feeling is that the 02 engine is less problematic though I don't have facts to back that up. The recalls for COP problems only included 03-05 models.
Are you the original owner of your '02? The V8 emblem was not standard until '03. It sounds like this was an aftermarket add. The '02 dash cluster was a one year feature, changing in '03 for the remainder of the run.
 

Bark624

Well-Known Member
Are you the original owner of your '02? The V8 emblem was not standard until '03. It sounds like this was an aftermarket add. The '02 dash cluster was a one year feature, changing in '03 for the remainder of the run.
No, I am the third owner. I figured it was added aftermarket.
 
what @biddle said in post #5 is basically the main difference after that its just a couple of options that were available. I am not positive if standard on all or any ,seat heaters and SST(select shift transmission).then the "bling" being the v-8 symbol only on 2004 and the 50th anniversary on the 2005 fender, both of which have been placed on other years by owners.finally certain colors were produced only certain years.
 

Waltbird

Walt & Conny Birdsong
what @biddle said in post #5 is basically the main difference after that its just a couple of options that were available. I am not positive if standard on all or any ,seat heaters and SST(select shift transmission).then the "bling" being the v-8 symbol only on 2004 and the 50th anniversary on the 2005 fender, both of which have been placed on other years by owners.finally certain colors were produced only certain years.
Buy any one you want, you'll love them all regardless of the differences. I have an 02, and would buy another regardless which year 02-05. Love mine, you'll love your too. Best of luck with you search.
 

Mach5

2004 Merlot
I believe that problems found in the first "run" (of any vehicle) are worked out and fixed as each model year progresses - working out the kinks. In addition to the comments above, I believe the troublesome hydraulic cooling fan was replaced with a better electrical fan in later years; unwieldy top boot was replaced with better design. In addition to adding the seat heaters, I think the Homelink transmitter was not added until later years.
 
So if I understand correctly, other than the instrument cluster being different in the 2002 and some badge and wheel cap changes in the remaining years, there is really not much difference in the external appearance of the Retro Birds. That explains when I see a Retro Bird at a car cruise; most of the time there is some sort of sign indicating what year it is.

Because I have the first year Thunderbird (made on December 20, 1954), I’m not sure if I will get the first year or the last year Retro Bird. Whichever year I get, it will be blue to match my 1955.

I want to thank everyone for their help.

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
 

Bubblehog

Well-Known Member
If you want a Thunderbird Blue car, it will have to be a 2002 model, unless you want to repaint a later one. They only came in that color in 2002.
 
Besides our recent purchase of the 1964 Thunderbird, we also own the 2005 Anniversary Edition in Platinum color. Purchased new.This was the 50th anniversary and the last. These were limited edition with numbered plaque inside the glove box door. It also has the 50th anniversary badge on the front fenders. This edition is highly optioned. Only problem ever was needing A/C compressor replacement. Besides routine maintenance, this has been one of the best cars we have ever owned and still drives and looks like the day we bought it with 43 k miles on her. I think from a collectors view, this is the most desirable of 2002-2005 Thunderbirds. Whatever you decide on, you will love your Thunderbird.
 
Which every year you want, you will find plenty, recently did a search on Autotrader and got over
540 retro T Birds for sale. Pick your favorite color, and miles, I would not worry about the year,
even though 2002 was first year, the suspension, engine, etc, were all used in earlier years of the
Jaguar S, and Lincoln LS.

I have noticed more for sale recently, than in the past. Believe many owners have owned them for
a long time, and are now deciding to part with them for various reasons.
 
Detroit Larry
Only the 2005 special cashmere were given a build number with a numbered tag attached to the inside of the glove box door.
However it has recently come to light that NOT ALL cashmeres received a number tag, some went through the assembly line & did not get tagged.
 

Bark624

Well-Known Member
I just bought my '02 three years ago after lusting after one since they came out. It was my retirement gift to myself. I'm absolutely in love with it, warts and all. 114,000 miles and still runs like a top, and looks beautiful. Find a well maintained one regardless of mileage that fits your needs. You won't regret it! My only caveat to add is know that going into it you should budget $500-1,000 annually for maintenance and repairs. Not out of line for a 16 to 20 year old car. And we'll worth it for such a beautiful machine!
 
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