Some of you have been waiting for my driving impresssions
of the new Thunderbird. Many of you know that we have several convertibles
already, including a 57
thunderbird, 2 '89 Chrysler TC's
by Maserati, and a 1989 Chrysler LeBaron GTC (all the Chryslers
are 4 cylinders & have turbos) - hardly comparable engine wise
until you stick that turbo on them. Since this will have to
happen over time as I get used to the new car, I'll give you a running
impression. First one will be my impressions over the first few days
I've highlighted what I feel should be improved
in the "con" section otherwise it's just items that I will have to get
used to because it's a different car. Remember that the LeBaron has
been my daily driver for 12 years and is a fun car to drive even though
it's been outpowered by many cars today - it still has plenty of scoot
on the freeway and on the street.
|observations of new 'bird (June 9)
after putting on 100 miles:
difference betw 1989 ChryslerGTC LeBaron 2.5L turbo and
2002 Thunderbird 3.9L non-turbo - - both automatics.
you can slip Chrysler's TC by Maserati into the LeBaron's spot and
still get similar results.
Update on the "cons" a week later (June 17)
The power is not there at the start on the 'bird
- think that may be my problem.
Seats are not as comfortable - I'm not young anymore
& I'm getting foot cramps when I get out of car after driiving.
lumbar support doesn't seem to be working but will check that out more
- its probably just my unfamiliarity withh how to work the lumbar support.
Trunk, hood and doors don't close easily. It's
an effort to close - have to almost slam the doors, trunk & hood.
My 77 Ford LTD had better closing doors, etc... as do the LeBaron and the
TC. My 57 T'bird has better closing doors. I don't like
to slam doors, nor trunk or hood.
Tranny is touchier than the LeBaron - this may also
pass as I get used to the car.
Not as much leg room on passenger side which is ok
for me but not for George - at least that's what he says.
Road feel is less but eventually I will learn how
to feel the road with this car - every car I ever driven, I've been able
to feel the road so I don't buy that when journalists call it a fault -
they need to get in tune with the car.
Too much thought has to go into remembering to keep
your fingers out of the latch handles on tops (but I like the looks of
the handles so there is a dilemma there for the designers.
Rear view mirror smaller than LeBaron - doesn't show
as much, making more of a blind spot in back of you but then it doesn't
hide as much that is behind the mirror in front of you.
Premium wheels show dirt quickly
Thought the LeBaron had a lot of plastic but this
'bird has even more. Will have to watch to see what starts breaking
first - it was the seat belt sheafs that went first in the LeBaron.
TC had a very plush full leather interior with
much less plastic showing than in the new T-bird. GTC was in a much
lower price bracket but leather interior compares equally with the t-bird
Still getting used to the differences in the positions
of the parking/emergency brake which I make a habit of using all the time.
Now that gets embarrassing as I keep popping the hood open! - Don't
like the position of the center parking brake handle - too far away to
use comfortably - takes 2 hands to use. Like the floor brake on the
Rear view mirror glued to window - I hate this
and I've had to live with it with the Chryslers, too.
trunk small - half the size of the original 55 which
is considered small itself and also much smaller than the TCs.
Update #2 June 19
power is still not there on take off - I miss my
turbo! but it sure is there once I get it going.
have adjusted the seat so I don't get cramps now
but the LeBaron fits me like a glove.
am learning how to close the doors, etc...with one
push - still not as easy as other cars
getting used to the tranny
haven't removed the top yet so not dealing with the
finger pinchers (update: good news, read "pros")
haven't popped the hood lately trying to release
the emergency brake - my learning curve is much slower now than it used
emergency brake can now be pulled on with one hand
- am I getting stronger? or is the e.b. llearning that it is going to be
used in this car & it better co-operate?
trunk size is a joke ( but better than some sport
cars or a motorcycle) - wait'll you hear me when we try to travel!
but if Bob & Phyllis can do it, so can we.
found another "want" - locking gas cap flap
wind in the cockpit is worse than the LeBaron but
better than the TC or 57.
MSRP Price comparison. TC & T-bird had
comparable prices but are 12 years apart so take in the inflation factor.
. TC msrp was negotiable but the t-bird isn't... yet.
colors - though the LeBaron had a similar teal color
available but not in the sportier GTC version.
over all looks - better than the LeBaron but remember
that the LeBaron was an excellent design. I still love to look at
my LeBaron after 12 years of ownership.
Handles corners as well or better than the LeBaron
and the LeBaron does well around corners.
fewer blind spots overall.
Sound system much better - difference in years, I
love the interior color - drab, conservative options
were available on the LeBaron in '89.
premium wheels are a snap to clean up - GTC's wheels
are a real pain.
center console is nice!
gauges - wasn't impressed when I saw them the first
time but like them now and they are unique.
Sun visors are perfect size - smaller than GTC's
which always got in my way.
has only 2 seats - can't compare with the GTC in
this respect - puts the 2 in different classes but compares with the TC.
The Ride is Smooooth.....!! perfect for a
cruiser and better than either of the Chryslers which we have taken long
distance and don't tire us out. No cowl shake with the hardtop on
- Won't be trying it with the hardtop offf until sometime in July.
I would call it a great suspension!
BIG GRIN factor (had that with the GTC, too! - and
the TC and the 57)
For other comparisons of options, etc. click
Update on the "pros" a week later
Update June 22, 2002
like the steering wheel
road feel is fine now
like the CD player
like the other controls
like the ride
LOVE the color
and is it ever quiet inside with the hardtop on.
Extremely little sound escapes to the outside, too.
A little wind gets in with the windows open but it
does not cause a hair mess - has a nice flow pattern around the cockpit.
One window up and one down is even better especially if the window up is
cutting off the traffic noise.
Hardtop has been removed and I've raised and lowered
the softtop several times. Though handle was unfamiliar to me, the
header of the softop has 2 finger grips on either side of handle that help
one close the handle without getting your fingers in the way of the handle
- rather obvious to use.
Update - January 2003
We've had the car for 8 months now and use it at least twice a week.
It's accumulated over 7000 road miles and it's not a daily driver.
We are enjoying it. We have gotten used to it. The doors still
close too hard for me and I still think the emergency brake is difficult
to set. I don't pop the hood anymore trying to release the emergency
brake but George still has occasionally and I catch myself getting ready
to do that. Still in love with the color even with the 2003 new colors
on the road now.
We have traveled long distance with the car now and are able to pack
the trunk with what we need and still have room for more.
Update - November 2003 - Now have over 21,000 enjoyable miles on this
car. Love to drive it.
Update - May 2006
We've had the car for 4 years now and 63,000 miles are on it.
I should note that long ago, we verified the sales pitch that the car learns
how you drive, ie, if you want jack rabbit starts, it will give you jack
rabbit starts. It takes about 3 good stomps at different but consecutive
times to get the car to realize that you do indeed want it to perform for
you. It's default mode is a gas-saving, smooth start though, and
it will revert to that if you let it.
If you're wondering about our high mileage, just consider this.
We bought a 2005 in June of 2005 and it now has over 9,000 miles on it.
6500 of those miles were accumulated in April of 2006.