Monday, 23 May 2011

Road Test - 1996 Ford Thunderbird LX

This picture on the right isn't a Thunderbird.  It's a 1996 Saab 900S.  I'm a Saab guy.  I don't mind admitting it.  I own two of them, but not for much longer.  One of them is off to Saab heaven, which is located somewhere between "GM doesn't own us anymore" and "people are buying our cars faster than we can make them."  Sadly, this heaven doesn't exist.

When I took the Mighty Saab off life support (I cut off access to my credit card and my mechanic had to take a night job as a bartender), finding it's replacement was destined to be a challenge.  It had to be cool, it had to be versatile, it had to be fun to drive, and if possible, upscale but not ostentatious.

The 1996 Ford Thunderbird is all of that except the versatile part (my Saab's glove box was wider that the T-Bird's trunk).  It's built to drive, and to drive hard.  It's fun.  I'm glad I bought it.  Here's why:

GREAT:  This car has power!  I haven't felt the surge of 8 cylinders and rear wheel drive in so long I had forgotten what it was like.  I felt like a guy again; I actually felt 'em growing back after 32 years of front wheel drive.  I had so much testosterone flowing after the first time I opened it up on the highway I had to shave twice that day.  It's nickname?  THUNDERBEAST!

GOOD:  Suprisingly not bad gas mileage on the highway.  18 mpg (hey, it could be a lot worse).  Comfortable, well laid out, very masculine cockpit.

Room for GROWTH:  (as if Ford's designers are headed back to the design board after they read this).  That trunk is not very deep.  Seriously, the cargo room in my hatchback Saab with the seats down was enough to bring home from Ikea an entire living room set, to whit:  one couch, one love seat, two armchairs, one coffee table and two side tables; mind you that's what both Ikea and Saab were designed for.  If I go to Ikea with the T-Bird I will be bringing home in the trunk, at most, a catalogue, a Boomjaga cutlery tray and Flimsgaard magazine rack.

Overall recommendation:  If you can find a 1996 Thunderbird with only 200,000 kilometres in mint condition, buy it.  I'm glad I did.

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