Ford Thunderbird (seventh generation)
|Seventh generation Ford Thunderbird|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Also called||Guri Conquistador|
Pico Rivera, California
Mahwah, New Jersey
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe|
|Related||Ford LTD II
|Engine||302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) 351W V8
351 cu in (5.8 L) 351M V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) Cleveland V8
|Wheelbase||114.0 in (2,896 mm)|
|Length||217.7 in (5,530 mm)|
|Width||78.5 in (1,994 mm)|
|Height||52.6 in (1,336 mm)|
|Predecessor||Ford Thunderbird (sixth generation)|
|Successor||Ford Thunderbird (eighth generation)|
The seventh generation of the Ford Thunderbird is a personal luxury car built by Ford Motor Company from the 1977 to the 1979 model years. In a key marketing shift for Ford, the Thunderbird changed market segments for 1977, shifting from a full-size car to the larger end of the intermediate segment. Based upon the Ford LTD II, this generation is the first of four generations of the Thunderbird to share its basic design with the Mercury Cougar.
The squarer, sharper styling was popular, as this generation became the most popular in the history of the Ford Thunderbird. Helped by a $2,700 drop in price from 1976, over 318,000 sold in 1977 and 352,000 in 1978 (the best single sales year in Thunderbird history), followed by 295,000 in 1979. The popularity of the styling would carry over in a smaller version as the company designed the rooflines of the 1978-1983 Ford Fairmont Futura and the Mercury Zephyr Z-7 coupes.
Since Lincoln reintroduced the Mark series in 1969, it had shared common engineering and underpinnings with the Thunderbird. During the 1970s, this led to the latter car becoming heavy and expensive in comparison to competition from Chrysler and General Motors. For 1977, as both cars were redesigned, the Thunderbird was split from the Lincoln Mark V. As the Ford LTD II quietly replaced the Torino, the Thunderbird replaced the Elite. Instead of serving as an introductory model below Lincoln, the Thunderbird was repositioned into a new segment of the personal luxury market. Alongside the Mercury Cougar XR7, the Thunderbird now competed against the Chrysler Cordoba and the General Motors quartet of the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and Pontiac Grand Prix.
Although not as deliberate a downsizing as what was to come to future Ford cars, the 1977 Thunderbird was far smaller than its predecessor, shedding nearly 10 inches (254 mm) of length and 900 lb (408 kg) of weight; height and width remained essentially unchanged. Instead of remaining a badge-engineered Lincoln powered only by a 460 V8 engine, the Thunderbird drew many of its underpinnings from the intermediate Ford range; as such, a wide range of powertrains were now available. The base engine was the 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8, while the larger 351 cu in (5.8 L) 351M and 400 cu in (6.6 L) and T-tops were available as options along with the 351W. In California, the 351 was the only engine available. Although the smaller engines had lower output than the 460 V8, the lighter weight did compensate towards overall performance; the 400 was dropped in 1979 with the introduction of CAFE requirements.
1978 Diamond Jubilee Edition
In 1978, Ford offered the "Diamond Jubilee Edition" Thunderbird to commemorate the company's 75th year as an auto manufacturer. This option package escalated the price of the car to almost US$12,000, virtually doubling the base price; it included every option except a moonroof and an engine block heater. It was originally available in only two colors- Diamond Jubilee exclusive "diamond blue" metallic, or "standard issue" ember metallic; both with matching velour cloth seats with a "biscuit" design. Later in production, Ford offered leather as an option, and offered white as an exterior color with blue or white trim and interior. This option was available on the Lincoln Continental Mark V as well for the much more substantial cost of US$23,000.
In 1979, a similar option package was available named "Heritage". It included basically the same optional equipment, still with only two color options available: Heritage Maroon or Heritage Baby Blue. The "Heritage" option remained available into the next generation of the car.
- "1979 Ford Thunderbird 5.8L V-8 (Modified) specifications & performance data review". Retrieved 29 May 2014.
- Tast, Alan H. and David Newhardt. THUNDERBIRD FIFTY YEARS. Motorbooks. October 15, 2004.
- "1977 Ford Thunderbird Production Numbers/Specifications". Retrieved 21 September 2014.
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