Curbside Musings: 2004 Ford Thunderbird Premium – Cool Blue

2004 Ford Thunderbird Premium roadster. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Blue, the colour suits you.  Cool blue… It’s not a stretch to say I became an instant Eurythmics fan the first time I heard the electrifying, metronomic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)“.  If I recall correctly, this was during the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair in the summer of ’83, while at an underground t-shirt shop with my family, in tow behind my older brother.  Theirs seemed like an entirely new kind of music – hypnotic, alluring, and just this side of foreboding even without seeming at all untoward.  I had no idea what I was listening to, but it was thrilling.  Even if the most of the lyrics eluded my elementary school-aged mind, the melody of the chorus played on “repeat” in my mind during the ride back home to Flint, an eventful trek I’ve written about here before.  That song is a masterpiece and remains one of my favorites.

Eurythmics "Touch" album cover, as sourced from

It was only toward the late ’80s as a high school student that I had started playing catch-up by purchasing albums on cassette containing songs I had loved up to that point in my life, versus exclusively taping songs off the radio.  This sometimes confounded my friends who would be subject to listening to whatever I threw into the tape deck of the family car when I was driving us somewhere.  Of course I had current music that we all jammed to, but there were also “old” selections like English rock band Asia’s 1982 debut (“Why are you playing my dad’s music?”, my friend Jason once pointedly asked), Whammy! by the B-52s from ’83, and Eurythmics’ second, third, and fourth studio albums.  Touch, their third which was also released in ’83, contains the duo’s second Billboard Hot 100 top-10 single, “Here Comes The Rain Again”, and a couple of other hits.  Compared with their Sweet Dreams album, Touch is both sonically and lyrically just a bit darker and moodier.

It wasn’t just their hits I loved.  Many of Eurythmics’ album tracks were just as strong, including the one after which I’ve subtitled this essay, though at the time, many of their lyrics were lost on my teenage comprehension skills.  At the time, “Cool Blue” sounded simply like a woman lamenting about it being cold outside (Michigan winters are no joke, and they can seem to last forever), interspersed with her random feelings of dissatisfaction with some guy.  Re-reading the lyrics as an adult, it becomes clear that the protagonist portrayed by vocalist Annie Lennox is dismayed by her man’s lack of attention to and/or desire for her, at least in the moment.

2004 Ford Thunderbird Premium roadster. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

How will you stay this way forever?Blue again, it’s a lasting chillTo keep you cold as winter

Maybe he’s just depressed or just not into her for whatever reason.  Who knows?  I had recently been on a self-imposed hiatus (since broken) from purchasing new-to-me music, even from the thrift store, in an attempt to simply appreciate the vast library I already have.  This lead to a recent re-spin of Touch, which then happened to coincide with this recent 2004 Thunderbird sighting downtown.  Its exterior finish is very much a cool shade of blue, called Light Ice Blue Metallic by Ford.  It differs significantly from the Desert Sky Blue offered on the the previous year’s model, which was a much brighter, pastel-like hue.

There was technically only one interior color offered for ’04, Black Ink, but our featured car also has the optional Light Sand Appearance Package with matching soft boot for the convertible top.  The 17″, seven-spoke chrome wheels were standard on the Premium edition, with the standard-tier Deluxe getting 16-spoke painted aluminum wheels, which were also very handsome.

2004 Ford Thunderbird print ad, as sourced from the internet.

How could she fall for a boy like that?How could she fall for a boy like that?

The elephant in the room is that these cars were ultimately unsuccessful in the marketplace, lasting only between 2002 and ’05.  That has been addressed elsewhere at Curbside, but as I had written about a different example I had spotted near the Indiana Dunes last summer, I am a fan.  The question then, as it relates to “Cool Blue”, is this: just how quickly did the public’s ardor cool for the reborn, retro-themed roadster styled by a team headed by the venerated Jack Telnack?  It actually didn’t take long.  Four model years yielded only about 68,100 sales of what was widely considered to be a pricey car, with almost half of total production (31,400) occurring during its first year.  Sales fell by over fifty percent for ’03, to just 14,700 units.  Our featured ’04 is one of just under 12,800 built, with only another 9,300 units sold for ’05 before this ‘Bird was grounded.

2004 Ford Thunderbird Premium roadster. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

An entry price of $35,495 for the non-hardtop model in ’04 translates to about $57,000 today.  For that money, you got a Jaguar-designed, 4.0 liter engine with 280 horsepower, which had a noticeable upgrade in power from the 252-hp mill installed in the first-year ’02 models, owing to electronic throttle control and variable valve timing.  Zero-to-sixty miles per hour was decent at 6.5 seconds, a tangible improvement over the seven-second time of the ’02 models.  The only transmission available was a five-speed automatic.

How can I forget you?I’m never gonna give you up, up, I said…

2004 Ford Thunderbird Premium roadster. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

For me, it all comes back to my initial, visceral reaction and genuine enthusiasm from the first time I had seen one of these cars.  Granted, there were other heritage-styled vehicles on the market right after the turn of the millennium, like the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Plymouth Prowler, and Volkswagen New Beetle – the style of each of which I can find something to really like.  It was the eleventh-generation Thunderbird, though, that had me mentally projecting myself back into some alt-world history where I was around and able to enjoy the novelty, power, and beauty of very first ’55 Thunderbird roadster.  The last one probably cost too much for what it was, but just like my first experience of the groundbreaking sounds of Eurythmics left an indelible impression on me, it’s not that hard for me to remember my excitement for these ‘Birds, at a time when Ford had opted to offer something thrillingly different than what had come before.

Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

Song lyrics by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart.  2004 Ford Thunderbird print ad and album cover were sourced from the internet.