Ford introduced a Supercharged Thunderbird concept car as a possible future addition to its Living Legends line of automobiles at the 2003 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The supercharged Ford Thunderbird concept is powered by a 3.9-liter 390 horsepower supercharged V-8 engine. It was designed to gauge consumer interest in a performance-tuned version of Ford's iconic two-seat sports roadster. The Supercharged Thunderbird concept was a joint development of Ford's Living Legends Design Studio and the FPG as a potential addition to FPG's future product portfolio.
"The Supercharged Ford Thunderbird concept combines America's ultimate dream car with an enthusiast's ultimate dream engine under the hood," says Mike Zevalkink, Ford Motor Company executive director, Ford Performance Group. "Thunderbird offered us an excellent basis to leverage product excitement even further with our performance expertise."
Ford's supercharged Thunderbird concept is joined on the company's 2003 LA Auto Show display by two other customized Thunderbird cars. The Thunderbird Chip Foose edition, first shown at the 2002 SEMA Show, features a "cut-down" speedster windscreen, custom interior and other major restyling modifications. The Thunderbird Roy Brizio edition, also shown at the 2002 SEMA Show, includes unique front, side and rear styling enhancements in a dark green metallic paint color.
With 390 horsepower on tap, the Ford Thunderbird 3.9-liter supercharged V-8 engine transforms the vehicle's character from a grand touring car into a performance-minded sports roadster. The supercharger setup offers peak horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 390 foot pounds of peak torque at 3,500 rpm, giving the Thunderbird concept car impressive power and acceleration capabilities.
Ford's powertrain engineers began the supercharged concept's transformation with a stock 3.9-liter DOHC modular V-8 engine from the standard Thunderbird. Then, all-new aluminum headers were fitted along with a Roots type supercharger to provide the necessary thrust. "Achieving 390 horsepower from a relatively modest 3.9 liters is a testament to this engine's efficient use of technology," says Dave Szczupak, Ford Motor Company vice president, Powertrain Operations. "The raw power of this most powerful Thunderbird ever is intoxicating to sample, but our designers have made the Supercharged Ford Thunderbird just as exciting visually as it is to drive."
The design team, working in concert with the FPG, gave the supercharged Thunderbird concept an equally appealing underhood appearance to match its powerful exterior design. Details like a polished high-flow intake pipe and Gloss Red cam covers with carbon fiber coil covers accentuate the engine design. The "Thunderbird" script is inscribed across the cam covers. A carbon fiber radiator cover housing integral supercharger air filters completes the display.
The production Thunderbird is bold, confident and free, with classic design cues translated into a contemporary design language. The Supercharged Thunderbird concept design is more aggressive, refined and powerful, entirely in concert with the powerplant under its hood.
Designers at the Ford Living Legends design studio massaged nearly every body panel on the concept vehicle to provide just the right visual presence for Ford's most powerful Thunderbird ever. The hood, front fenders and front and rear bumpers are unique, as are the seat and trim materials in the interior.
An all-new power dome hood provides visual differentiation and functional engine cooling for the supercharged engine. Chrome was liberally applied to the 16 forward-facing surfaces on the hood's twin air extractors, with the engine's Gloss Red cam covers visible through slots in the louvers.
A new, more prominent grille is finished in the same chrome as the hood's twin air extractor louvers. Air intakes have been placed in the grille openings used for driving lights on the production Thunderbird. Chromed air intakes also grace each front fender, but are larger in size than the production vehicle, with all-new, cut-down rear view mirrors in color-keyed housings.
Reworked front and rear bumpers complement the one-inch lower suspension, while 18-inch tires on custom, 16-spoke aluminum wheels anchor the vehicle to the road, both visually and functionally. A lockable, two-piece hard tonneau cover conceals the soft, black convertible top underneath.
At the rear, twin exhaust ports exit on either side of the license plate surround, seamlessly integrated into the rear bumper. Rear backup lamps have been moved from the taillights and now reside directly above the exhausts, inset into the license plate housing.
The exterior, painted cool Machine Silver, complements the Supercharged Thunderbird concept's all-leather, chamois-tinted interior. The Supercharged Thunderbird concept also features generous use of polished and brushed chrome on horizontal ribs surrounding the interior, while the center stack is adorned with Machine Silver inserts.