Ford Authority

Aston Martin Used This Ford Thunderbird To Develop The V8 Vantage

When most people think of the Ford Thunderbird, they envision the beautiful, timeless design of the first-generation model of the mid-1950s. But as most also know, the Thunderbird went on to live for eleven total generations in a variety of forms. And while the tenth-generation model of the late 1990s may not get a lot of love from enthusiasts, it was apparently good enough for Aston Martin to use as a benchmark.

We know this because the owner of this particular Thunderbird recently discovered that his car was used by Aston Martin during the development process for its V8 Vantage model at the time. He received an actual letter back from the luxury performance automaker confirming this fact, which was recently posted, along with a few pictures of the Thunderbird, in the RADwood Facebook group.

Granted, it wasn’t like Aston was looking to mimic the Thunderbird’s design or drivetrain, but rather its engine management control software. The new-at-the-time V8 Vantage was slated to use the same level of Ford’s engine management control, and like the Aston, was also supercharged. Thus, the automaker became the first official owner of the Thunderbird back in 1989 and even used it as a “pool car” for various staff members at the time.

As the automaker points out in the letter, it is very unusual for an engineering development vehicle to make it this far in life unscathed. The Thunderbird obviously isn’t perfect, but it does appear to be in very solid condition. The owner now plans on restoring the car, after which Aston hopes that it can once again make an appearance at the automaker’s historic Newport Pagnell plant in England. Talk about coming full circle!

We’ll have more cool stories like this to share soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for more Ford Thunderbird news and ongoing Ford news coverage.

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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  1. Jorge Esquinca

    From the time when Ford produced real cars and was not a boring SUV & Crossover company…

    1. Dwayne Desisto

      Boring? Gt500,Raptor,Super Duty Tremor, The GT, Bronco, Mach1 ect.

      1. Roy Chile’s

        I drove one of the Thunderbird SC new it was anything but boring the V6 SC with 5spd transmission was all business

        1. Perry Anthony

          As the buyer of the 1st 1989 Super Coupe to hit Broward County/Ft. Lauderdale, you are correct. But, I Lemon Lawed the car back to Ford Motor Company a year later for DEFECTIVE front brakes, as they never UPGRADED the brakes on the car with the upgraded supercharged V-6 power. After getting a FULL-REFUND of all the money I originally paid for the car when new, I ended up buying it back from the local wholesale auction thru my brother-in-law who was a licensed used car dealer for only 62% of the original purchase price and had BREMBO brakes installed on it afterwards and it was fine afterwards.

      2. Jack

        Pretty much boring.
        Super Duty = 😩seriously?? (unless you live in Texas and will get disowned by your family if you buy a car instead)
        Bronco = too little too late in an already competitive market
        Raptor = 😴😩 (yet another damn truck 🚚)
        Gt500 = absolutely not a mustang fanboy😒
        Mach1 = damn another mustang model?😒😴
        Please also don’t start mentioning police interceptors as another supposed interesting thing coming out of Ford like most fanboys do😩 it’s like desperately gasping for straws.

        Out of all that you listed, the GT is the only thing interesting coming from Ford that is not tired and consistently shoved down people’s throats when the brand Ford is brought up.
        Boring? When compared to other companies, including imports, hell yeah Ford is boring.

        1. Perry Anthony

          Sounds like your a Mopar guy.

    2. David

      Ford will be out of business if and when fuel prices rise to the level they are here in Canada. My wish would be no SUV’s or pickup trucks within the left lane on all public highways.

  2. Perry Anthony

    The 1989 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe was a great car, except for one major drawback, they failed to upgrade the front brake rotors. All you had to do was slam the brakes hard at 80mph and the front rotors WARPED!!! Otherwise it was an awesome car, way ahead of it’s time for Ford Motor Company, as the car was very similar to a BMW 635. It even had an air-ride suspension which gave the big car great cornering and ride ability. Ford even replaced the rotors ( same one’s) and all 4 tires trying to get me to go away, but I proceeded with the LEMON LAW anyway and received a FULL REFUND for the car, even all my aftermarket add-ons like tinted windows. They NEVER fixed the brake problem on the supercharged Super Coupe model, and it eventually went off into the sunset forever. This car was TWICE the car the final Thunderbird produced was, as I feel that car was a total POS. But I understand they made aftermarket brake upgrades for this car that easily solved the problem. I’ve been looking for one for awhile now, but still haven’t found the color and options of my original 1989 SC.

  3. James E

    Fantastic news for the historians that this car survived and kudos to Aston Martin for providing the corroborating information. Very cool car with a great connection to Newport Pagnell!

  4. James E

    What a fantastic vehicle and a real win for the historians of the marque. Kudos also to Aston Martin for acknowledging the provenance of this car! Congratulations to the new owner.

  5. Stephen Goldberger

    “Unloved?” Back in the day I was close friends of a couple with a penchant for destroying every car they owned in short order (and not by crashing them). Their 10 generation T-bird was the exception. Not a “Super Coupe” to be sure, but unbreakable.

  6. David Mangum

    I own a 1995 Thunderbird V8, The seats are very comfortable, it’s got plenty of leg room, has pretty good zip and a trunk for 4 bodies, what more could you ask for.

  7. Tim

    I still have the 1989 Super Coupe that I ordered new. It now has 76K miles. Yes Ford recalled it to put new brake rotors on at about 10K miles and they remained in service until I replaced them recently and didn’t have any problems. But then I never slammed on the brakes at 80 mph either. One braking system portion that wasn’t “a better idea” was the use of a high pressure pump/accumulator system to provide hydraulic pressure to the ABS but then this was one of the early American cars to have ABS. The Super Couple did not have “air-ride suspension” but rather 4 wheel independent suspension with variable valving on the front struts.

  8. Graham Slaven

    hi there, thanks for doing this article. It is my car and now on the road, needs painting but all the hard work is done.
    I dragged it out of ahedge in June and done a lot of work since,
    New rockers
    New screen and scuttle repair
    Brakes all New
    Re built the gear box due to broken stator tube
    Replaced vacuum lines and super charger gasket
    Serviced and changed belts along with various sensors
    4 x tyres
    Its drives very well love it, thanks for the comments

  9. martyn wilson

    I now own the car having bought it from Graham. I have now had it painted , had windows tinted and multiple other cosmetic things. As Graham said the car drives impeccably and is a credit to his mechanical work he undertook…Car will be for sale from spring 2023 and can be shipped from UK to USA east or west coast at very cheap price..


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