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1994 FORD THUNDERBIRD LX COUPE

by: BILL RUSS

SEE ALSO:Ford Buyer's Guide

The revitalized 1994 Thunderbird LX is the sleekest in long line of T-Birds, Ford's luxury sports coupe that goes back to the mid-1950's. This year its front and rear styling has been smoothed over, the interior has been enhanced, and a new optional powertrain has been added.

Nearly forty years ago the original T-bird added a new dimension as an All-American sporty car. It stressed style and comfort over high performance, and quickly became a trend setter. The 1955 through 1957 two-seater convertibles quickly became very popular. They have become acknowledged modern classics and are still much sought after by car collectors. Even so, Ford decided that a new four-passenger coupe would have wider appeal to a larger market. With that decision the 1958 Thunderbird instantly grew into a larger personal luxury sports coupe. Through about a dozen generations of substantial design and powertrain changes it has evolved to the latest version, which just may be the best Thunderbird yet. It offers a combination of performance, luxury and class, plus a long list of included amenities that make it an excellent value.

Ford is using the 1994 LX Thunderbird to showcase its new 4.6 liter modular V8 engine. A full week of all-purpose driving in the latest model with its new powerplant left these impressions:

APPEARANCE: The 1994 T-Bird retains the basic contemporary styling that has been its trademark for the past five years. Subtle aerodynamic revisions to the front and rear fascias, as well as a new hood, headlights and bodyside moldings give it a refreshingly clean, bold, dynamic look. The familiar Thunderbird logo remains on its new front and in back on the wide smooth rear. A styling note: Ford has been using the T-bird body in NASCAR racing, and this newest version was developed with an eye towards streamlining and high-speed stability. A viable combination of good looks and practicality.

COMFORT: The interior of latest Thunderbird provides an excellent driving and riding environment. The driver sits in a leather-covered cockpit-type area with all instruments and controls within easy reach and an eight-way power seat for sustained driving comfort An upgrade premium push-button sound system delivers excellent all-around sound from high-fidelity AM or FM sources, or cassette tapes, or a remote CD six-disc changer. Additionally, a quiet climate control system keeps the large four-adult cabin area at an even temperature regardless of outside weather conditions. The LX is a very completely equipped luxury sports performance vehicle that is outfitted with almost every one of the convenience items that the Ford Motor Company currently produces.

SAFETY: To provide occupants with a feeling of security Ford has improved chassis strength and stiffness, and added driver and passenger side airbags, as well as three-point outboard seat belts. Additional safety features include side-impact door beams, as well as optional electronic traction control, and an anti-lock braking system which adds four-wheel disc brakes

ROADABILITY: Even though it has been extensively upgraded, the new Thunderbird is rather more a sporting coupe than a sports car. With its well-balanced combination of rear-wheel drive, speed- sensitive power steering, four wheel anti-lock disc braking, independent suspension and traction- control it emphasizes smooth comfort and precise handling over high-speed performance. Its updated aerodynamics, improved structural design and added insulation combine to keep wind, road and tire noise to a minimum.

PERFORMANCE: A new very smooth and quiet "modular" V8 engine is available for the LX version of the 1994 T-Bird. This computer-managed, port fuel injected, sixteen-valve, single overhead cam, 4.6 liter engine develops 200 horsepower, and offers slightly more power and better fuel economy over the venerable 5.0 liter V8 engine it replaces. An updated electronically controlled four-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the new engine. This combination provides more than adequate power to the rear wheels for most normal driving situations.

CONCLUSIONS: Balanced power and smooth refinement are the hallmarks of the current group of Thunderbirds. The 1994 LX with its enhanced exterior styling, its brand new interior and Ford's newest modular V8 engine delivers a competent package that combines good looks with quiet power at a very reasonable price.

SPECIFICATIONS:
1994 FORD THUNDERBIRD LX

	   
	   Base Price              $ 16,830
	   Price As Tested         $ 20,300
	   Engine Type             V-8, sohc - 16 v, epfi
	   Engine Size             4.6 liter/281 cid   
	   Horsepower              205 @ 4500
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         265 @ 3200
	   Wheelbase/Length        113 /200"
	   Transmission            four speed auto w/od
	   Curb Weight             3880
	   Pounds per Horsepower   19
	   Fuel Capacity           18
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (92 oct)
	   Tire                    Firestone FR680 P215/70R15 M+S
	   Brake                   anti-lock optional      disc/disc
	   Drive Train             front engine/rear drive
	   
			 PERFORMANCE    
	   
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      18/25/20.3     
	   0 to 60 mph                  8.6 sec           
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.5 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .31

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