Ford Motor Co. will begin building the revived Thunderbird convertible next year as a 2002 model, a company spokesman said Thursday.

Based on the same chassis as the Lincoln LS and the Jaguar S-Type, the T-Bird will be a rear-wheel drive convertible, offered with the LS’s 3.9-liter V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission. The production car is expected to differ little from the prototype concept car Ford unveiled at the 1999 North American International Auto Show.

Ford spokesman Bill George declined to say when the car would hit dealer lots, how many would be produced or how much the vehicle would cost.

“We think whatever volume we’re going to build won’t meet demand,” he said.

Analysts expect the T-Bird to be priced around $40,000, competitive with roadsters from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Audi.

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