Ford's FAB1 star of the Thunderbirds movie has returned from a 3000-mile UK dealership tour which boosted new car sales by up to 400 per cent in some locations. Lady Penelope's 23-foot long special version limousine was joined at around 15 Ford dealers by her Ford Thunderbird and Streetka - drawing in crowds wherever they went.
Hartwell Ford, in Swindon, sold 62 new cars to customers attracted to the dealership by its weekend FAB1 event. The site would normally expect to sell an average of 15 cars over the same period. More than 4,000 people flowed through Hartwell Ford's doors – versus 130 over a normal weekend.
Nigel Kingscott, Hartwell Ford general manager, said: "This was a winner with families – a third of cars sold were Focus C-MAX and Galaxy multi-purpose vehicles."
The Thunderbirds roadshow attracted thousands of people to Ford dealerships –shopping for both new and used cars. Around 4,500 people flocked to TCH Derby where used car sales were boosted most – 46 were sold as a result of the event. Brooklyn Ford's newly opened dealership in Worcester was swamped by more than 2,000 visitors on the Sunday of its FAB1 show.
The event was an extra incentive to visit a Ford dealership and test drive a vehicle in return for free Thunderbirds tickets. Guests could dress up as lead movie character Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward or her chauffeur 'Parker' and be photographed with her Ford cars. Over the month-long tour more than 3,500 photographs were taken and immediate prints supplied – raising more than £4,000 for Ford of Britain's charity, Breakthrough.
Morten Hannesbo, Ford of Britain sales director, said: "We were delighted to welcome so many people, parents and children alike, to our dealerships – 18,000 in total and many first-time visitors to Ford. In the four weeks since Thunderbirds premiered, 1,700 test drives have been generated by FAB1 events."
Ford and film distributors, Universal Pictures, worked closely on the production of the Thunderbirds film. Ford Design Europe, based at Dunton Technical Centre, in Essex, created FAB1 which appears on screen alongside Ford prototype and current vehicles. Ford became involved so designers could gain experience outside of the automotive field and learn from technicians and designers in other industries.Published 23 August 2004