- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

Forty-five years ago Ford offered an exterior color called Coral Sand on its 1957 two-seater Thunderbird. The factory sales brochure points out that this color was one of "34 sparkling two-tone combinations" available in 1957, the third year of production for the new two-seater. The 1956 T-Bird offered Sunset Coral, a color a little closer to the limited 2003 offering.

Forty years ago Ian Fleming's James Bond movies debuted with "Dr. No." These movies became known for the specially prepared, sometimes over-the-top, cars available only to the superspy 007. Now, 20 James Bond movies later, the Thunderbird is a two-seater again and a special-edition version is seen in the latest movie, "Die Another Day."

Co-star Halle Berry's character, Jinx, drives this special T-Bird, which you have to look closely for as it is only on the screen for a matter of seconds.

Ford is offering this 2003 Thunderbird in a limited number, only 700, in the reintroduced color, Coral, to match the bikini worn by the female lead.

The removable top is in Performance White with an exclusive all-white interior, special for this edition.

The "007" Bond Thunderbird has a notable 007, (including the gun design) logo on the right side of the machine-turned dash inserts that sweep from door panel to door panel.

Since the return of the two-seater T-Bird in 2002, there have been many enhancements evident in all 2003 models.

The vehicle performance changes include new variable-intake-camshaft timing for the 3.9-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft V-8, which helps boost horsepower from 252 to 280 while simultaneously improving fuel economy.

A refinement in the electronic throttle improves powertrain response control.

Another new addition is the optional SelectShift five-speed automatic transmission that can be shiftedmuch the same as a manual transmission.

The Bond Thunderbird features include chrome 21-spoke, 17-inch wheels, the aforementioned white leather seat with white trimmed lower door panels and speaker covers.

Each vehicle also will feature a numbered, commemorative plaque mounted on the inside of the glove box. The steering wheel and shift knob are trimmed in Black Ink leather to complete the interior appointments.

Of course, Coral is the only color available on this Bond edition.

Standard equipment featured on this vehicle include traction control, AM/FM in-dash six-CD player with clock as well as air conditioning, dual vanity mirrors and power tilt/telescoping steering column. Power windows and door locks are included with a rear-window defroster and a perimeter anti-theft system.

Add remote keyless entry and speed control along with the trademarked BeltMinder safety-belt pretensioners and you have a high-content machine any enthusiast will appreciate.

An extended test drive in the "007" Bond Thunderbird quickly reveals the statistical differences from last year to this, as quite obvious.

The first and easiest enhancement to notice is the improved steering. Ford changed suppliers for 2003 and as a result the steering has a more sporty feel with a decidedly more distinct turn-in and overall more precise response.

The power variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering turns lock-to-lock in 2.7 turns of the steering wheel, which results in a turning circle curb-to-curb of 35.9 feet. The independent rear suspension with anti-lift, coil-over-shock absorber design with a stabilizer bar adds to the much-improved handling of the new T-Bird.

Immediately one discovers the difference in acceleration with 28 more horsepower and increased torque to 286 foot-pounds.

The brakes are power four-wheel disc with a four-channel anti-lock system.

The front vented disc brakes measure 11.8 by 1.1 inches, and the rear brakes are not that much smaller with the vented disc rotor diameter at 11.3 inches, and width at .07 inch.

The base curb weight of 3,775 pounds still allows this very well-equipped trendsetter to perform as well as it looks.

If Coral is your color, or special-edition, low-production models are your thing, this 2003 "007" Bond Thunderbird may be just what you wanted.

Approximate price for this thriller is $43,000. The "007" is scheduled to be in Ford showrooms next spring.

The improvements on the new T-Bird for its second year in production are noticeable and add a level of performance to an already popular car in the marketplace.

This car makes you want to "drive it again another day" and every day for that matter.

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