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Ford To Retire T-Bird

April 23, 2003

According to the Detroit News, Ford is ready to retire the T-bird again.Ford Division president Steve Lyons said in an interview with the paper that the company plans to stop building the retro-styled Thunderbird convertible after the 2005 or 2006 model year, ending a four-year run."We have always planned to build it for four model years, and that's what we are going to do," Lyons told the Detroit News. "It would be wrong to keep building it and erode its value. It's a collectors' vehicle." The newspaper said demand for the Thunderbird was red hot when it was launched in 2001 but has declined significantly. In some cases, the cars are remaining on dealers' lots for months before they are bought, the Detroit News added. "We could bring it back," Lyons told the paper. "But there is no set timetable. We will have to have the right design."The newspaper noted that dealers could originally ask $10,000 over the $39,000 list price when the Thunderbird arrived in 2001 but demand soon faded and Ford never reached the planned 25,000 sales a year. Last year, Ford sold 19,085 in the United States and, to the end of March, had sold 4,065, down 21 percent from a year ago, the Detroit News added."The demand is nonexistent right now," Vernon Krause, president of Cherokee Ford in Woodstock, Georgia, told the paper. "It's such a small niche that it seems like everyone who wanted one got one."The Detroit News said Ford tried to stimulate sales through special edition versions of the vehicle, including a coral-colored James Bond edition like the one driven by Halle Berry in the latest 007 movie, "Die Another Day."And, last year, Ford launched a series of commercials using footage of the late singer Frank Sinatra bidding farewell to a vintage T-bird, the Detroit News said.
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