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Ford to halt Thunderbird production
With sales falling, the roadster that returned with '02 model will again go on hiatus after July.
March 11, 2005: 3:00 PM EST
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Ford will halt production of the Thunderbird in July, but intends to bring the namplate back at an unspecified time in the future.
Ford will halt production of the Thunderbird in July, but intends to bring the namplate back at an unspecified time in the future.
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Ford plans to again stop production of its Thunderbird sports car after the current model year ends production in July.

The company has sold more than 55,000 of the roadsters since it brought the storied car back into production with the 2002 model following a three-year gap in production. But sales have been slipping since its reintroduction resulted in sales of 19,085 in 2002.

Sales for the last six months, roughly in line with the roll out of the 2005 models, were 4,522, according to sales tracker Autodata, a drop of 33.7 percent from the same six-month period a year earlier.

The two-seater model brought back in 2002 was always seen as somewhat of a niche vehicle. But despite some good reviews for the reintroduction, even the best sales of the new model were seen as somewhat of a disappointment for Ford.

Ford said this is not the end of the line for its famous nameplate. Instead, its release referred to the decision as putting the name back in its "future-product vault."

"We promised all along that this Thunderbird would have a limited production run, and we're being true to our word," said Steve Lyons, Ford Division president. "Thunderbird was a terrific image builder for the Ford brand showroom at a time when we needed it."

Ford will now concentrate on its new Mustang sports car, which had its convertible version unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January.

The first Thunderbird went on sale Oct. 22, 1954, and during the last five decades it has gone through several design changes with coupes, sedans, convertibles, hardtops and even large-size configurations. The first four-seat version of the Thunderbird came out in 1958.

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