2003 TBird: Seen It, Touched It, Sat In It !!!!

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Those fortunate enough to attend the ITC (International Thunderbird Club) annual convenrtion in Watkinds Glen, NY, July 23-28 got several nice treats, and a big surprise.

1) Gary Boost, the new Chief Engineer (this means he's in charge) of the Tbird program attended with his wife. HE DROVE A PRE-PRODUCTION 2003 BIRD !!!! We got to examine it very closely. He he was the guest speaker at our awards banquet, during which he brought us up to date on the '03 changes, as well as future plans. Now before I go further, and before someone asks, I have photos, but not digital photos. When my photos reurn from processing, I will scan and post them.

Visual changes include:
a) V8 emblem on the front fenders
b) Revised visor material. I think it looks tacky compared to the '02.
c) The new guage cluster. Instead of the guages flowing across like the '02, each is in it's own seperate chrome trimmed housing set on a black background. It looks more performance oriented. I tend to like the nostalgic look of the '02 better.
d) The car was equipped with the new, optional, select shift transmission. It is laid out similiar to the '02, but the channel to the right on the console is centered as compared to the quadrant on the left with + & - symbols to guide the manual shifting.
e) The controls for the heated seats are located on the curved blank section in the area where the dash meets the console, one for each seat.

Generally, the car looks the same. The new engine upgrades have resulted in a change in the engine compartment because of the shortened breather tube. There is also a new engine cover design as well.

The new colors will be the gray and blue as we all pretty much know about now. The car is scheduled to be launced in the 4th quarter of '02. No firm info on pricing, or production start date. The red exterior color is the same as the '02. There will be a saddle interior available. No change in the boot, carpets, etc, except that the black seat trim will be more of a darker gray than black. I could not really see any difference looking at the '03, which was supposed to have the change, but it was not close enough to an '02 to make a comparison.

As for the future, Gary, as typical for folks in his position, was rather non-committal. He implicated a long future for TBird, unlike the 4-5 year window that has been implicated. I assume thois will be predicated on sales. Things being looked at include a better boot arrangement, GPS, a w2ider interior color selection, performance and handling revisions, and possible SVT involvement. Some of the performance and handling upgrades will appear in '03, much as has been indicated in previous Ford releases.

2) Also in attendance was Miles Johnson, of Ford Marketing/SVT. He arranged for the Living Legends Tour to be availaqble for the show. This included the TBird Sports Roadster, a '02 Bird, the Mustang Pony, The Mustang Mach I, and, by special arrangement, the concept GT 40. This exhibit is certainly worth any effort to see it if ti comes to your area.

He also made a presentation to our group, which included:

a) A preview of several new advertising spots featuring Bill Ford, including one for TBird. It is well done, including a "cameo" with Frank Sinatra with a '57from the movie Pal Joey. They will start airing tomorrow.

b) The trailer for the new Bond movie. No TBird appears in it, only the Aston Martin Pirece Brosnan will drive. Miles did advise that there will be 700 produced for sale through normal channels (Ford dealers), not NiemannMarcus as was previously thought. No release date at this time.

I'll try to post photos as soon as possible. If someone else who attended has digital photos, please post them. More to come as I remember it.

Oh, by the way, all 4 2002 Birds entered in judging won first place (awards are made by points, not ranking). Yours truly had a full 200 point judging result ( which would seem logical for a new car, even one that is driven reguarly). We have a lot of room for 2002 owners in our ranks, with chapters in most areas of the country. Interested? Check our website: www.intl-tbirdclub.com

Red/Red/Red Premium #1678

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Yes-It is not there. Gary indicated that there are no plans to do this. There is concern as to what it will do to top positioning and the tightness of fit. I talked with the owners of the other '02's there, and most did not seem to be overly concerned about this. I think most are like us-the hardtop is not on that much.

Good job Skip. Nice report. You say that the visor material looks more tacky. Any idea why it was changed to something that doesn't look as nice?
I think they thought they were improving it by giving it a fabric looking cover. But it really doesn't blend well with the leather leather. And it still looks like a pretty basic item, ala Focus, rather than the lighted units that should have been in the cars. Then again, I seldom use them anyway. But my lovely wife would sure like them lighted.


Red/Red/Red Premium, #1678
Great job of reporting. I was there and
agree with everything Skip said. By the
way, Skip and I were fortunate enough to
"win" hats with the Living Legends Tour on
the front and blue oval Ford on the back.
It was a great event, and made better with
the 03 Thunderbird making an appearance.
Say hi to Lelia.

'87 TurboCoupe
'02 Blue#114987
'96 Bronco
'98 Windstar Van
'95 Miata M Edition
'95 Miata Red/Tan
On the post about seeing the 2003 at the T-Bird convention it was mentioned that the Bird may FLY BEYOUND 2005.
I thought I was buying a limited production 3 or 4 year run car.
I have heard that the 2004 1/2 Mustang will be on the LS / T-Bird platform.
Next we will see Mustangs, at half the price, being basically the same car! Probably they will have lighted mirrors in the visors!
Mustangs have always tagged along on another cars platform to keep down cost. This grouping of several cars on one platform will help by: making aftermarket parts available, keep the current T-Bird in production longer, etc...

How do you think the people who purchased the Jag on the same platform feel about the T-Bird? The last T-Bird only shared its platform with the Lincoln Mark VIII and it died off.

I hope Ford produces a version of this type of T-Bird forever, kinda like how Chevy has kept the Corvette alive.
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