Ford has said the 2005 model year will be the last for the current-generation Ford Thunderbird, a retro-styled convertible that went on sale in August 2001.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Ford had planned to discontinue the Thunderbird after the 2005 or 2006 model year but told employees on Thursday that production will end in July.

AP added that the Wixom Assembly Plant northwest of Detroit, which produces the Thunderbird, will continue to make the Lincoln LS and Town Car and also will be the final assembly point for the Ford GT supercar, which was released last year.

The redesigned 2002 Thunderbird got off to a roaring start, the news agency noted, with dealers flooded with pre-orders and able to command $US10,000 premiums on top of the car's retail price of $30,000.

However, AP said the flurry died down almost as quickly as it emerged - Ford had projected sales of 25,000 per year but they fell well short of that mark and just 11,998 Thunderbirds were sold in 2004, 33% fewer than 2003.

The Associated Press said Ford has sold a total of 54,360 new-generation Thunderbirds since 2001 and 4.2 million since the nameplate was introduced in 1954.