- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

At about $1.60 per pound, the 4,893-pound Ford Thunderbird was a lot of car for the money.

That's what 42,685 buyers must have thought in 1975 when the heaviest of all Thunderbirds was new. James and Blanche Trout of Derwood, Md., were so taken by the beauty of the 18-foot-9-inch-long car that on Aug. 25, 1975, they purchased one from the Henry Woodfield Ford dealership in Gaithersburg.

Records indicate they paid $7,722 for their Thunderbird while the base price suggested on the window sticker was $7,701.

The luxurious features that were desirable to the Trouts were equally appealing to the second owner in March 1998. That owner never really used the big Thunderbird and, realizing that the chances were remote of him ever using the car, he decided to sell it after owning it only four years.

At that time, along came Bob Anselmo, a retired automobile sales manager. Several years earlier he concluded that he needed an antique automobile. Once that decision was made, he reckoned that a mid-1960s Cadillac convertible was the car for him.

Cadillacs of that era were big, comfortable and powerful.

So, in the autumn of 2000, the search began for his dream car of the mid-1960s. He looked at several disappointments but optimistically continued the search.

By February 2001, after running out of local Cadillacs to inspect, he widened his horizons.

Although he wasn't particularly interested in a 1975 Thunderbird advertised for sale, he, nevertheless thought he'd follow up on the ad.

As he drove up the driveway, he saw the immaculate chocolate-colored brown Thunderbird glistening in the sunlight with about 7,000 miles recorded on the odometer in the last quarter century.

While it wasn't a convertible or a Cadillac, Mr. Anselmo said, "I saw the condition of the car, and I couldn't leave it there."

Firing up the barely used 460-cubic-inch V-8 engine resulted in a smooth outpouring of 194 horsepower. Mr. Anselmo was sold and purchased the car in March 2001.

After returning the next day with the cash, he wheeled his remarkable Thunderbird out onto the highway on its 120.4-inch wheelbase for the 50-mile drive home. "It ran like a new one," Mr. Anselmo reports.

Once he had his treasure home, he went over the car carefully to see what exactly he had actually purchased.

He was thrilled to see the eight taillights were working, four on each side of the two backup lights flanking the license plate.

The 120 mph speedometer is visible through the two-spoke steering wheel. The steering wheel is equipped with the tilt option.

With a toggle, the right side mirror can be remotely adjusted.

The doors are so long that each one has two ashtrays, the rear one for back-seat passengers.

Ford equipped this big Thunderbird with:

• Power seat.

• Power brakes.

• Power antenna.

• Power windows.

• Power steering.

• Cruise control.

• Cornering lights.

• Rear window defogger.

• Air conditioning with climate control thermostat.

The remote control trunk release is hidden inside the glove compartment.

A stylized Thunderbird emblem adorns a linear "porthole" on each "C" pillar.

Whenever Mr. Anselmo takes his unique low-mileage Thunderbird out for some exercise, the car comfortably rolls along on 15-inch Michelin tires. Each wheel is dressed up with Thunderbird multivaned wheel covers.

Mr. Anselmo remains confident of his stopping ability thanks to the four-wheel disc brakes. They always bring this, the heaviest Thunderbird, to a safe and sure halt with authority.

Attached to the rear brakes is the "Sure Track" anti-skid system that was pretty high-tech in 1975.

Even though the 20th Anniversary Edition of the Thunderbird remains a far cry from a Cadillac convertible, Mr. Anselmo is very pleased with his luxurious low-mileage coupe. His all-original Thunderbird is an eye-catching one of a kind wherever it goes.

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