Aerodynamic T-bird is gliding on brisk sales breeze
''I think it's the greastest thing that's happened to the Thunderbird in a long time,'' exults motorist No. 1. Another counters: ''I don't like the car at all.''
Thus, the lines are drawn on Ford's brand-new aero T-bird. The car, in fact, has shed its longtime boxy look for ''the rounded look'' in automotive design, a shape Ford Motor Company is touting as ''the look of tomorrow'' in motorcars.
''You either love it or you hate it,'' remarks a Ford Motor Company official. Even so, between March 1 and May 31, Thunderbird sales, at 33,032, were up 185 percent over the same three-month period a year ago. Cougar sales - 20,122 - are up 370 percent. Both cars went on sale Feb. 17.
The soft, curvy look of the T-Bird is somewhat reminiscent of the BMW 633CSi. Coefficient of drag is 0.35, lowest of any domestic competitor in its class. Drip moldings are concealed, the door tops fold into the roof, the windshield is sharply raked, the hood is sloped, and fenders and quarter panels tapered.
Its Mercury counterpart, the Cougar, mainly differs from the Thunderbird in the shape of its backlite - or rear window. To some, the shape is distinctive and a real plus for the car. Auto design is a very personal item, and what pleases one motorist may do little for someone else.
Ford Motor Company says that this is the styling route it plans to take in the 1980s. The brand-new Tempo-Topaz shapes are a further declaration of this purpose. So is the somewhat controversial Sierra being sold in Europe, one model of which is slated for the United States in 1985.
It may take a while for this kind of styling to take hold, considering all the slab-side car shapes that have been around for some time.
The base-model T-bird includes a V-6 engine with three-speed automatic and carries a sticker price of $9,629. The up-scale Heritage edition starts at $12, 660, while the base price of the turbocharged 2.3-liter coupe is $12,222. With options, a $15,000 Thunderbird isn't hard to find. All base prices include transportation costs.
Standard suspension is new, with gas-pressurized shocks and struts. However, for a surer, albeit firmer, ride, a stiffer suspension is worth the cost.
The electronic fuel-injected, 5-liter V-8 with automatic overdrive transmission gives the zip that a T-Bird owner may want instead of the tamer V-6 . There isn't too much difference in fuel consumption between the two. Mileage runs somewhat under 20 m.p.g. with both engines in the city and in the mid-to-upper 20s on the highway, depending on the variables of car and road conditions, weather, traffic, and so forth.
Space is quite adequate in the car for most people with the exception of the super tall. So is the headroom, both fore and aft. Wheelbase is 108.4 inches. Length is a shade over 200 inches.