It was December 2002. Ford was getting prepared to celebrate its 100th anniversary in June of the very next year. So they did what any other company would do. They decided to create an anniversary edition of their products to a) get higher transaction prices and b) make owners believe that their car will hold its value down the line.
So what warranted a Centennial-edition Ford?
Well, the colors on all of them were, of course, black, because the Model T was only available in black. They also received premium beige leather, some special 100th anniversary badges, a "commemorative key chain and watch," and "a copy of the limited edition lavishly illustrated coffee table book, 'The Ford Century.'" And the package was only available on top-end models of the Explorer, F-Series Super Duty, Mustang GT, Taurus, and Focus, all of them Ford's best-sellers.
Crucial to maintaining a "limited-edition" aspect to these cars, there were only 4000 Centennial versions each of the Explorer and Taurus and 3000 each of the Super Dutys, Mustangs, and Focus. So the possibility of these cars holding their value could exist, or much more likely, the Ford salespeople could pitch that to their customers.
However, what's more notable is what Ford models at the time didn't have the Centennial package. The new Thunderbird had debuted in 2002, and was clearly a car intended to bring up Ford's heritage, but didn't have the package. The same went for the F-150, which was the best-selling vehicle in the United States at that time (and an immense source of Ford profits). The Crown Victoria also didn't receive this edition, presumably because Ford thought customers would assume the Centennial badges were commemorating the long life of the car rather than the company that made it.
But there's more. Today, because it's Sunday and I had way too much time on my hands, I decided to see if I could find any Centennial models for sale.
So naturally, I went to Autotempest and checked for any Centennial models for sale. Autotrader resulted in finding 8 Centennial editions, with one Mustang GT convertible, two Explorers, one Focus and four F-Series Super Dutys. Oodle came up with a couple more Mustangs, a Taurus, and a couple more trucks.
None of the vehicles, with the notable exception of the Focus listing, were advertised with the commemorative key chain, watch, and the coffee table book. Many of the trucks had none of the things that came with the Centennial edition, except for things you couldn't easily take off the car, like the badges, the premium leather, and the black paint. So you'll probably have some negotiating power if you ever run into one of these and the owner keeps on harping on about it being a limited edition. I suspect eBay may be populated with much of that memorabilia at this point.
Now comes the big question: Have they held their value?
According to the sellers of some of the vehicles, they have, but I'm not so sure. As you'll see on some of the Autotrader listings, some of the Super Duty owners are demanding between $15K and $20K on trucks will over 100,000 miles. Though I'm sure they've been sitting for sale for a long time. The Fox-body Mustang GTs are sitting around $10-20K with a reasonable amount of mileage corresponding to the price. Meanwhile, the Explorers, Tauri, and Foci are sitting where they should be in value.
So did these special editions mean much for these Fords? Maybe if you bought them new and appreciated having some Ford-branded stuff. After ten years, nobody cares, especially when Ford is putting out much better products today, like today's Taurus, Focus, Super Duty, Explorer, and Mustang.
And playing up your heritage in your basic models through a special package can only go so far.
Press release source: Motor Trend