Claimed Prototype: 1995 Ford Thunderbird

Here’s a brain teaser: what on earth makes this otherwise completely ordinary 1995 Ford Thunderbird a prototype? I love these listings where sellers make a genuinely BIG claim and then do nothing to establish why it’s true. To say a car that looks like every other 10th-generation Thunderbird – oh, and that appeared midway through the production cycle – is a factory prototype is a big claim. Find the supposed prototype here on craigslist for $9,500!

A prototype is generally used as a demonstrator before the next redesign takes place. Seeing as the tenth generation cars were rolling into showrooms in the late 80s, it’s curious to me as to how this 1995 model is a prototype. Was it a test mule for the next Thunderbird? A demonstrator for some rare options, like the obnoxious body kit it wears? So many questions.

Don’t get too excited – the interior also remains completely stock. Unfortunately, it’s not even the preferred leather interior, just some taupe cloth in average condition. Another perk to prototypes is they typically interweave rare or next-generation options you can’t get on production cars – needless to say, I see no trade secrets on display here.

Is it the engine? From what I can tell, the 4.6L V8 was offered from 1994 to 1997, so a 1995 model with this engine option should come as no surprise. It’s a bold claim to serve up your car as a prototype, especially with no documentation as to how, why, or where it earned that status. For close to $10K, does the Thunderbird warrant a closer look?


  1. nycbjr Member

    Why can’t sellers clean the car/interior B4 taking and posting pictures!!

    Like 6
    • PVDave

      Life is full of mysteries- Why do people post cars for sale on Craigslist without any photos?

  2. Capriest

    You could buy that body kit and those Roh wheels from vendors advertising in MM&FF magazine back in the 90’s. Poor taste does NOT = prototype, and that price is insane.

    Like 6
    • JBD

      I owned a 95 TBird Lx v8. This is not a 1995 but a 1996-97 model with improved Mustang v8 throttle body/ intake. The body kit was added as an afterthought.

      Like 2
  3. John Kitman

    This car came with rare prototype fuel ⛽️ from dealers lot. The rare fuel was mixed with one tenth of a tenth aviation fuel .
    The salesman swore it made the car a prototype car. He also sold the magic wax application similar to Toyota where they apply a hand wax at dealer with Teflon mixed wax for an additional $800

    I hoe he also traded his ovens for magic beans to assist Jack to get his bean stalk too.


    Like 6
    • LARRY

      It is a nice car but it ain’t that nice..body kit don’t make a prototype..that 4.6 is the lower horsepower engine sooo too much barrett Jackson on tv??

      Like 2
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Might be a prototype for the ground effects kit (not a Ford option), but not for the car itself from what I’m seeing. About the only thing different from what I’m seeing is the intake, the engine still looks like the 4.6 SOHC engine from what little I can see. I know that Ford made 4 prototypes for the 97 Hot Rod Power Tour which would have been the 98 model had they continued the line. DOHC engine and 5 speed transmissions which I found very attractive but never offered to the public. Unfortunately they killed the Tbirds after the 97 year and from what I read they crushed the 4 cars never to be sold.
    I have a 94 LX I love dearly but this one has nothing on it. The body addons aren’t that good looking and the price is too high IMO.

    Like 1
  5. CCFisher

    I worked in Ford’s engineering department in the 1990s. It was common for early prototypes of a new model to be a new chassis under an existing body, but such a car would be destroyed after testing, not sold. If this car has any history with Ford’s engineering department, it was likely a development car – pulled from the assembly line, fitted with experimental components (a new alternator or radiator design, for example), tested, then refitted with stock components and sold. These cars led HARD lives, and would not be a good choice for a used car.

    Like 13
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      These sorts of ‘insider’ stories are interesting to me. Any other examples?

      Like 3
    • 4drhardtop

      2k at best and that’s reaching…. A malaise era t bird has more potential…….

  6. Thomas Price

    As Jalopnik would say… in the realm of “Nice Price or Crack Pipe”, this one is TOTALLY CRACK PIPE.

    Like 5
  7. Ian C

    Could be a prototype for a clearcoat that does not fade or flake off.
    Failed miserably.

    Like 4
  8. Will Fox

    Another dolt who thinks they have a real gold nugget to get rich off of, but when reality sets in (and it will, trust me….) the seller will have to let this car go for ALOT LESS than the $9500. he wants. At best, this is a $4000. `Bird. And even THAT is a stretch. Love the pot seed burn in the driver’s seat….

    Like 5
  9. JBD

    I owned a 1995 TBird LX v8. This is a 1996-97 model with updated Mustang v8 throttle body and intake manifold. The body kit is an aftermarket afterthought. It is not a prototype or Galpin one – only dealer prototype.

  10. lc

    Body kit is by Xenon. Galpin and Xenon are both SoCal business. These kits were sold to many dealerships in the surrounding area….prototype?, no, not hardly. Unique?, never. Dirty, unloved and overpriced?….for sure!

    Like 5
    • Small White Car

      Galpin is a large dealership with a history of “one off” dealer packages because well, southern California and no two prom queens can show up in the same dress so…

  11. Del

    A closer look ?

    Surely you jest ?

  12. Top Jimmy

    Lol. Xenon body kit with Chinese rear spoiler. Not even nice wheels. Lookin a lot like a buy here pay here special to me.

  13. JagManBill

    Prototype of styling exercise car. BIG difference. I had a early production 77 T-Bird once. Bought it in 79 from a friend who had a body shop. He purchased from an insurance salvage auction. Car only had 8800 miles on it and had been T-boned on drivers side. Damage wasn’t too bad that it wasn’t fixable and we drove the thing for about 10 years after Adam repaired it.
    Of note was all the chrome on the car. Headlight surrounds, body side moulding and a few interior “tweaks” that didn’t see production till 78 or 79. Things like headlight doors had the Thunderbird crest, but not on the center rib as on production 78’s but located in the upper 1/2 of the door. Bumper and side moulding that didn’t come out till 79. Little things that made the car interesting…but not a prototype.

  14. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Don’t know about the rest of you, but around here in Vegas, there are HUNDREDS of these birds in the junk yards. To me they are as ugly and dicusting as a cow pie.
    Again, cars of the 80s & 90s were fugly! IMO

    Like 2
    • 86_Vette_Convertible

      Looks aside, you need to try one on those curvy back roads, that’s where the car shines. If the car is properly maintained it’s the handling that really sets the car off. It’s not as fast as a Corvette or GTR but it handles so much better than a solid axel car does.
      My opinion.

      Like 1
  15. Geoff LC

    Factory prototypes are well documented – no official paperwork, no prototype. They are not allowed to be licensed either, as they have no type approval. Dealer specials are not prototypes, just dress-up kits.

  16. JBD

    I had a rare SVT edition with 150 shot NX Kit. It had a 3.73 Alum Cobra IRS Center section also. It was fun to go to the race track and beat on Mustangs. I always got that look of “ I just got stomped by Gpa’s TBird”?

  17. bob boyd

    Former ford svt exec tells me this was a dealer special not something ford put out.

  18. Miguel

    They were good rental cars.

  19. Duane

    The seller may be trying to pass this off as SC (Super Coupe) w/the 4.6 HO engine, and added ground-effects skirting-don’t know-, but factory SC options aren’t there (steering wheel badging, rear panel badging, ride control rocker switches in console, 3.8 Supercharged engine (NOT Ford-built). For me, only an SC (a nice one) would get interest at that price. I bought three Super-Coupes in the day, and would still be driving one if they still made them–but wouldn’t be interested in this POS at any price.

  20. Rob

    Does the writing on the side window say Galpin Ford? If so, Galpin has a history of upgrades to vehicles. This would not be a Ford Motor Company prototype.

  21. Ken Neal-Rosario

    I sold my Mother’s immaculate one owner 97 for exactly 1/4th of this, and it took over a year to do it. Good luck!

  22. grant

    The seller is claiming that it’s a “factory prototype” because of the 4.6 V8. Not sure how that translates to a prototype when that engine was available 94-97 but he might be able to fool someone who’s clueless.

  23. Kevin

    Where did you or can I get this wide body kit ? Or the same of it

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