The Ford Thunderbird is an automobile that was manufactured by Ford in the United States over eleven model generations from 1955 through 2005. When introduced, it created the market niche eventually known as the personal luxury car.
It was not built between 1997 and 2002. In 2002, production resumed until 2005 when production ceased permanently. Over the years it grew from the original 2 dooor-2 seater up to a full size before downsizing again. The last (11th) generation returned to the original 2 door-2 seater before ceasing production.
Beginning in 1977 Thunderbird bodied racecars started running in NASCAR, starting a trend of luxury coupe type bodystyles being used as a sheet metal source on the race track. Bobby Allison won 13 races with this car driving for owner Bud Moore in the 1977 through 1980 seasons even though the cars looked boxy and unaerodynamic. During the period 1981–1997, the downsized and aerodynamically clean Thunderbirds were quite successful in NASCAR stock car racing before they were replaced by Taurus-based bodies in 1998. The 1983-1988 bodied cars routinely broke the 200 mph barrier, in one case attaining 212 mph at a Talladega Superspeedway qualifying session. Bill Elliott and Davey Allison, in particular, were very successful with the cars, with the crowning moment when Elliott won the 1988 championship.
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