So you say a limited-production factory Thunderbird is just too ordinary for you? You want more tradition with your retro-styled convertible? Or maybe you’re just not attracting enough attention at the local cruise night. Well, this 2002 Ford Thunderbird neatly solves all those problems. It’s one of 12 customized by Galpin Auto Sports in vintage Desert Dusk Rose paint, so it has all the pastel nostalgia of a traditional T-Bird with all the modern conveniences.
Yeah, it’s pink, but it totally works here. Even if it’s not your thing, you can see that Ford’s latest Thunderbird can still pull it off. The car was repainted before it was delivered to its first customer, so it’s safe to call it original paint, and yes, it’s pretty close to the 1957 hue of the same name. The sheetmetal is factory Thunderbird and the paint is worlds better than a production line could muster, so it’s just dazzling in person. With only 24,142 original miles, it still looks fresh and as I said, it definitely attracts attention, particularly with the ladies. In truth, every one of the twelve Galpin cars were unique in some way, making this officially a 1-of-1, and I’m sure you’ll have people asking you what color it is when you’re stopped at red lights or picking up some groceries on a warm summer evening. Trust me, it’ll grow on you, I promise.
The interior got a light makeover with some matching Dusk Rose highlights, done in leather, of course. Most of the upholstery is factory-issue Ford black leather, but with custom seat inserts, door panels, and a leather-wrapped wheel and matching shifter knob, the whole theme fits together quite well. Nothing was altered beyond the colors, so all of Ford’s engineering and technology, not to mention reliability, remains intact, making this a car that you can still comfortably drive every day without a second thought. Everything was standard, from power windows and locks to automatic climate control and a powerful AM/FM/CD stereo system that more than fills the cockpit with sound. White-faced retro instruments and Thunderbird logos with turquoise inlays are more connections to the past, and if you glance at the door jambs, you’ll see just how thorough the color change really was. The trunk is untouched and ultra-clean, while the black canvas convertible top stows in seconds with just the touch of a button. There’s also a white porthole hardtop, which, to my eye, completes the look even better than the canvas one.
The same 4.0-liter DOHC V8 that lives in all the Thunderbirds lives in this one, too, and it’s reliable and smooth, exactly what you want from a grand-touring machine. Capable of eating up hundreds of miles without complaint, but entertaining to drive around town with a great V8 bark out back, it’s the right engine for this car. It is, of course, 100% stock right down to the air filter and exhaust system, which insures reliability and comfort because this car is all about being seen. A 5-speed automatic transmission is unobtrusive and the all-independent suspension soaks up bumps without losing its agility. The only real change are the big chrome alloys with flashy wide whitewall radials for a vintage look.