Nostalgia reached a new level this week at one local car dealership as a shiny new 2002 Ford Thunderbird was joined on the showroom floor by two its predecessors of 45 years, both still in mint condition. Deemed classic and collectible only a few short years after their initial introduction, the Ford Thunderbird’s distinct styling has made its way back to the automotive market as the 2002 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Not since 1958 has the Thunderbird received the accolades bestowed upon it by automotive experts. The first Thunderbird was produced in 1955 and for the first several years of its existence, slight modifications and options made it distinct and popular among young adults. The newer version is no different. Initial reports state that the demand for the 25,000 vehicles that are scheduled to be produced has well exceeded the allocation. “Ford issued one Thunderbird to each dealership, with only a few of the high volume dealers getting as many as three units,” said Steve Black, owner of Norman Motors. Brady’s own Charlie Avery, an employee at Norman Motors and self-proclaimed Thunderbird fanatic, was aware of the new model and its pending release several years ago. As the owner of a 1960 Thunderbird in mint condition, his love for the car enticed him into placing his name on the order list for a new 2002 model when it came available. The order was placed in December of 2000 and the car arrived in Brady on Dec. 14, 2001. Today, the car is on display on the showroom floor at Norman Motors, along side two classic Thunderbirds, a 1957 roadster owned by Kenneth Young and Avery’s own 1960 model. Sitting side by side, the cars bring a feeling of nostalgia to the dealership and give passers by a chance to see the progress brought about in the past 45 years. “We have a lot of nostalgic feelings about this dealership,” said Black. “The script Ford logo inlaid in the floor was done by hand by Curtis Norman back when this building was being built in the 1930s. Having these cars on the showroom floor brings back a lot of those good old feelings.” Although the design evokes memories of a simpler time, the new Thunderbird uses the latest engineering technologies to provide a first-class modern automobile. The early T-birds were recognized for their interesting lamp treatments. Among the similarities found between the two models, the lamps are similar as are the “egg crate” grille design and the distinctive hood scoop. Both models feature a custom soft top with a hard top option, complete with porthole. The interior displays brushed aluminum appliqu’s and the original roadster’s famous Thunderbird logo is carried over onto the new version. “There is an incredible amount of similarity between the basic design of the two vehicles,” said Avery. “The engineers were sure to take many of the trademark characteristics and include them in the newer model to give car a very classic look. It has been said that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. For Charlie Avery, with his shiny new Thunderbird signed, sealed and delivered, it is safe to say that he feels like a kid at Christmas’literally.