Ford Authority

2002 Ford Thunderbird With 4K Miles Is Literally And Figuratively Mint

In the early 2000s, American automakers leaned heavily into their past by introducing explicitly retro-themed vehicles. The 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser and 2005 Ford Mustang were probably the most famous examples of the trend, but they weren’t the only ones. Several years before Ford hit a home run with its overhauled pony car, it decided to revive another famous nameplate in the form of the 2002 Ford Thunderbird.

Although the Thunderbird sold in limited quantities between 2002-2005, the vehicle is still highly sought after today. Our featured example recently showed up on Bring a Trailer, and given its near-new condition, we fully expect it to fetch well over $20,000 once bidding ends.

With only 4K miles on the odometer, this particular 2002 Ford Thunderbird likely has few peers, as it has traveled an average of 222 miles per year, an incredibly low figure for any car. Clearly, its original owner, who had it until 2019, wanted to preserve it as much as possible. And they certainly succeeded, as the entire car appears to look factory fresh on the outside.

There are some not-so-subtle hints that the owner loved the 2002 Ford Thunderbird beyond the low mileage and overall excellent condition of the paint. For starters, an identically colored diecast model resides in the trunk. The window sticker and removable hard top have also been incredibly well-preserved. In fact, it’s entirely possible the original owner never installed the removable top during their ownership.

Another notable aspect of this particular 2002 Ford Thunderbird is its eye-catching color. On the outside, Thunderbird Blue is bound to turn heads. But on the inside, it will blow minds. Ford charged customers an additional $800 for the optional interior accent package, and in this case, it looks like money well spent.

The color is definitely in line with the retro-themed exterior of the two-passenger roadster. And the minty blue hue instantly brings to mind a satisfying rinse of mouthwash or the refreshing experience of a Tic Tac. Everything appears to be in perfect condition too, aside from some normal wear on the leather seats.

With such low mileage, the 2002 Ford Thunderbird doesn’t appear to suffering from long term storage issues. The seller performed a battery replacement, but other than that, the engine looks extremely clean. Under the hood resides a 3.9L V8 good for 252 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. This particular powertrain probably has a lot of life left in it.

As of this writing, seven bids have gotten the price to $15,250. But the combination of a desirable exterior color and the optional interior accent package will probably inspire at least one motivated bidder to reach deep into their pockets. The car originally stickered for $40,245, and given its extremely low mileage and excellent condition, it wouldn’t be absurd if it fetched about at least half its original value once bidding ends on November 27th 2020.

We’ll have more cool cars like this to share soon, so subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Thunderbird news and continuous Ford news coverage.

Ed owns a 1986 Ford Taurus LX, and he routinely daydreams about buying another one, a fantasy that may someday become a reality.

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  1. R Mark

    I bought a mint green 04 with 2412 miles from my neighbor last year.
    314 made with black/white leather. I didn’t even know he owned one. It has 11k on it now, which is still only 650 miles per year.

    1. Mike

      What did you pay for it Mark? I’m looking at one now with 45k miles on it? Same car


  2. Jack

    Sorry but I absolutely hated this Thunderbird. Kill it with fire 🔥
    The only Thunderbirds that I truly love and miss were the ones dating from 1983 to 1986, 1987 to 1988, 1993, 1994 to 1996.
    Basically I absolutely loved the aero Thunderbirds of the 80s and adored the MN12 Thunderbirds of the 90s.
    This redesign of a Thunderbird using a Jaguar subframe just really irked me and made me absolutely hate the Ford Corporation for how they killed the Thunderbird by succumbing to this ridiculous retro modern design phase like Chrysler has done so I ended up buying a 99 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, and now a Hyundai Genesis Coupe which brings back a lot of the old happy feelings of what I used to have when I used to own my 96 Thunderbird. I still miss that car greatly but the Genesis Coupe does fill that hole in my heart.

    This 2002 Thunderbird deserves to burn in flames in history along with more crappy cars like the Chevy citation.

    1. R Mark

      Sorry, Jack, you sold out to imports, makes your comments about ‘Birds IRRELEVANT.

      1. Jack

        My comment is not irrelevant. I wouldn’t have sold out if Ford didn’t kill the the Thunderbird with this monstrosity and then kill the Thunderbird all over again, never to be resurrected ever again now since they decided to kill all cars except trucks, suv’s, and the mustang.

        Let me ask you Mr. ‘buy american only” Mark. What was I supposed to replace my bird with? A mustang😝?? Lol or a F-150? 🤣😝.

        Sorry man Ford had every opportunity to keep a customer like me coming back but they royally screwed the pooch on their blundered decisions. Not every former die hard Thunderbird owner will be ok settling with the mustang, Escape or F-150 😝 when other import companies actually listen to customers like me and build cars that people actually want to buy.

        Also just to twist the fork in the “buy american car only” fanboys, yes I have attended focus groups with Ford and Hyundai. It turns out that Hyundai actually listened to my grievance with Ford and the killing of the Thunderbird, along with other former Thunderbird and other various RWD Coupe owners wanting something to fill that hole in our hearts, hence the Genesis Coupe which had a lot of the dynamics of the MN12 Thunderbird but in a more lightweight package that handles twists and turns better.

        Ford stopped listening to customers who were not fanboys of the mustang and F-150 plain and simple.

    2. Roy Chile’s

      I would burn the Eclipse which is a SUV today and the Genesis coupe that sold no better than the Beautiful Bird of 2002. Buy what you wish that don’t make the Thunderbird no less of a classic no matter the year model

      1. Jack

        I will agree with you on the Eclipse. I bought that car out of total frustration for not finding something to replace my Thunderbird. Although it handled very nicely it was more of a little boy’s car, not a proper adults car. I tried the G35 and was left feeling very disappointed and that the thrill wasn’t there.

        I was actually very happy that Hyundai actually listened to people like me wanting a car to fill that hole in our hearts from the missing Thunderbird of prior years. Granted that the Genesis Coupe was a total new beast in the playground and did not have a cult following like the Thunderbird, it still did pretty well in sales.

        Even though the Genesis Coupe is currently discontinued they are currently working on a proper replacement under the Genesis name and having it more solidly built with better technology and suspension handling (especially with their new found experience making the N-Series of cars). Genesis want to make their next Coupe (whatever it will be called) designed in a way so that it will also strike a little fear in the current Mustang and others in the same playground instead of aiming for boring lifeless (soulless) cars such as the G37.

        Yes all Thunderbirds regardless of blundered sales or not will all remain classics. Like many things in life it’s a matter of preference who likes what better.

  3. Sean P Hanlin

    Wow, you seriously claim the hideously and horribly made early 90s Thunderbirds are better than this thing of beauty?!?!?!? You are entitled to your opinion but your claim is laughably silly. These were far better cars. There is a reason they still sell for thousands of dollars. The 90s Thunderbirds were a joke that killed the entire Thunderbird line.

    1. Jack

      If they were far better, how come they had such a short life span? If this gen Thunderbird was such a great beauty and hit they would still be making them along with the mustang. Even the designer had admitted failure to attract and have the same sales numbers like the previous gen as he predicted. (referenced old C&D magazine article) he admitted that not a lot of people had the same interest and were even dismayed by this designed resurrection.

      You and a few may love the design and think all past Thunderbirds were jokes, however, not everyone likes the “I ran out of styling ideas. Let’s go back to 50s and 60s” design. Not all of us were kids in the 50s and 60s.
      Believe it or not, there are many people like me that enjoy the 2 door 5 seater RWD coupe with that eye catching swoopy aerodynamic look. Also not all of us like the 70s muscle car look or retro chromed up fish-finny look.
      This retro bring-back was more of a joke, especially using expensive Jaguar underpinnings and powertrain, raise the price $20,000 more than the previous gen Thunderbirds, pricing it more than what a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII costs new. It’s basically a reskinned Jaguar at the peak when Ford also owned Jaguar, Volvo, Mazda, and Land Rover. Badge engineering at its best.

      Personally I would still love a mint condition unmodified well maintained 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with the 2.3L turbo 4 or Elan model with its original 5.0L V8 in jet black or cherry red with the original Thunderbird aluminum alloy wheels with the Thunderbird logo on the wheel caps. I came very close to getting one a year ago but the owner had cold feet at the last minute and couldn’t let it go 😞. I get it and understand. I feel the same way about my Genesis Coupe if that time for me to sell was to come.

  4. Chuck Steele

    I’m happy you loved the Thunderbirds that you did Jack, but 15 years and 112,000 miles later, my wife still looks over her shoulder and smiles every time she walks away from her 2005.
    I get to drive when it needs service and a few more times per year. If I go to a store, there are frequently people walking up to me, asking questions and complementing the car.

  5. Rod will

    Must be a liberal, I love my 03.

  6. Robert A.

    The 2002 – 2005 T’Bird was hit with a triple whammy of poor timing, being introduced just as coupes, convertibles and retro-styled vehicles had passed their peak, and were quickly falling out of favor with the driving public. It never appealed to younger drivers, who, likely thought of the ‘Bird as a “Grandpa’s Car.”

  7. Gerard Wright

    Got one as well, 19,000 miles on the Clock- Original Owner. This was likely the Best Color & Interior match ever produced by Ford.

  8. Mark L Bedel

    Yes, this revival just never seemed to take off as I think Ford would have hoped it would. I’m not sure that I could put my finger on it. Could have been too much of a departure from the styling of the original, but not enough for it to be a fresh styling exercise? Maybe the fun to drive quotient wasn’t at the level it should have been? Whatever it was, I do remember when it launched and initially thinking that something was missing…just could never quite figure out what it was?

    1. Jack

      You’re not wrong in your comment. A lot was missing. It wasn’t as sporty in its handling as it’s predecessors. The Jaguar suspension was replaced with softened Ford made suspension and weakened sway bars along with a few other detunes to bring down the cost of development, otherwise it would have been a $55k vehicle.
      If they were to name this car something different like when they came out with the 49 concept during the 2004 Auto Show then it would have probably been a better hit.

      Also if they would have learned from GM’s past mistakes, you can’t take a car model they made several Generations of, kill it for a few years, and then bring it back as something completely non related to the previous generations without alienating the fanbase that was waiting with baited breath for a proper revival.

      Thunderbird fanboyism aside, this model just did not capture the hearts of many former owners. As one person commented in the editorial emails on C&D magazine, I believe it was called “backfires”, one commenter was so angry and even stated that this car should have been labeled as a Buick because it was geared towards retirees and people who are not automobile enthusiast. Another commenter said that the Revival of the Mercury Cougar in 1999, which was a rebadged European Ford Mondeo Coup “Puma” in some countries, was a better success than this Thunderbird Revival and had better sporty handling even though it was a front wheel drive car.

      I can’t remember the C & D Magazine number but there were a lot of upset fanbase when Ford released this Thunderbird, about 2 pages worth of negative comments. “Ford never listens to its customers”, “is Ford trading places with Buick now? Is this what the future of Ford cars are going to look like?”, “I think I’m finally ready to buy a Honda Civic SI for myself and an Accord for the wife”… Etc some comments were laughable while others were plain mean and truthful.

      Ford should have just renamed this car as something different and let the Thunderbird name just die.

    2. Roy Chile’s

      What hurt the sales of the Thunderbird was the Top, you need 2 people to put it on and remove it. In 1955 and again in 02 the Thunderbird was supposed to get a Retractable hardtop like the Fairlane but didn’t History repeat itself to keep cost down and the process alittle unuser friendly other than that the car was a lot of fun to drive top up or down

      1. Jack

        Actually if you read R&T and C&D the top was the very least of problems for this gen Thunderbird sales.

        The handling of this car was the biggest complaint amongst all the negative feedback from many owners and fanboys. If you honestly think this car is fun to drive you would have been better off owning the Jaguar S-Type (the car model that this gen Thunderbird is based from) which has all of its original Jaguar suspension and tuning. No Ford branded detuned parts were added to the Jaguar S-Type to save cost. It will be a difference between night and day, not to mention it just looks cooler and you can fit more than 2 people in the car.

  9. James Marsh

    I havd had 2 of the 02-5 birds and one Jag S. Two of them went over 150k miles with no serious issues. Fine autos. Loved the heck out of them. Still have an 02 bird.

  10. Barry V. Graver

    I have an 03, black on black with 3k miles. 2nd owner and I adore the car. I’ve had a lifetime of T-birds ( 58, 60, 63 and now my 03.
    Life’s better in a T-Bird


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