By on October 9, 2013

10- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord may have squeezed even more vehicles out of their Fox platform than Chrysler got with their roughly contemporary K platform and derivatives, and the range of cars was just about as broad. Though Foxes are very plentiful in high-turnover self-service wrecking yards, I let most of them go to The Crusher undocumented. We’ve seen this ’79 Mustang Indy 500 Pace Car, this ’80 Mercury Capri, and this ’82 Mercury Zephyr so far in this series, and today we’ll add another Malaise Era Fox. Yes, there was a Fox Thunderbird with squared-off, Fairmont-style body, available for the 1980 through 1982 model years. Not many of these cars were sold, so today’s find— in Denver— is a rare one.


1982 Ford Thunderbird Commercial

Ford’s marketers did their best, but the Thunderbird name had fallen on hard times. Again.
01- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Old Car BrochuresHeritage split bench seats in Midnight Blue!
04- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese Midnight Blue seats have lost some of their luster after 31 years, but you can imagine how Barcalounger-like they must have been when new.
11- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDetroit stuck with the “wire wheel” hubcap concept well into the 1990s, but the middle 1980s were the pinnacle of the style.
03- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Town Landau emblems are gone, but the landau roof remains.
13- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interesting thing about these Foxes is that just about everything mechanical, plus unexpected stuff like dash panels, is bolt-on interchangeable between cars. You can swap in the drivetrain and suspension out of, say, a ’93 Mustang SVT Cobra into an ’82 T-Bird with a minimum of modifications. Or you could install the Heritage Split Bench seats out of an ’82 T-Bird into your Mustang.

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66 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Town Landau” Perhaps they should have just named it “Little Lincoln Mark II”

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    wow…and after the last cool peice about the awesome cars of the early sixties…we get this reminder!!!

    how far down did this car go!?
    From the cool small sport car even through the very cool, yet rich man’s 1964 thunderbird…this was a very nice and design leading car.
    Then, like so many cars of the period…they just grew into these god-awful large giants.
    I mean…who would ever think this was a thunderbird back then? I saw it and it bummed me out.
    Even the cool mustang became the GRANDE, or something. Had one. It replaced the 67. Terrible.

    Geeze…I hate the seventies. Now I hate the eighties!
    It was the worst of times in music, hair and dress.
    It was Bizzaro world.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      In 1983, this Thunderbird was replaced by the very handsome “aero” Thunderbird, which was a dramatic improvement in every way. So the 1980s were not completely awful, at least not if you liked Thunderbirds.

      This car was a low point in Thunderbird history, although the bloated 1972-76 Thunderbirds weren’t exactly gems, either.

    • 0 avatar
      old5.0

      This car is considerably smaller than the 60′s ‘Birds, most of which were categorically awful. They weren’t so much cars as the bloated corpses of the 50′s two seat cars. This particular generation isn’t as attractive as the later aero ‘Birds but it at least rode on the Fox platform, which gave it exactly one more redeeming quality than it’s sixties ancestors.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The 1960s Thunderbirds were designed to be stylish highway cruisers, and they succeeded in that goal. Taut handling wasn’t a priority for buyers of Thunderbirds (or American luxury cars in general) during the 1960s.

        The 1955-57 Thunderbird did not offer buyers sporty handling, even by the standards of the time. That is why Ford always referred to it as a “personal car” as opposed to a “sports car.”

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        well…I wasn’t talking about the entire sixties. After all…they did end up poorly, car design wise. However…I respectfull cannot go along with your opinion of the 1960 through 64 birds. They were awsesome in many ways, although NOT sports cars. They were instead, as geeber says below, cruisers and wonderful works of art and design and luxury…with a sport/rocket look. There is no way in hell these later monsters looked as cool as these. From their rocket rear lights, wrap around rear seat backs to their first ever in cars 3 blinking turn signals still used on today’s stangs…wonderful.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      I disagree about the music :) The 90′s were a lot worse for the music industry.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        I respectfully disagree. You had to search but there was plenty of good music in the 90′s era.

        (and the 80′s)

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Return of the Mack is one of em from the 90′s, as used in the title of today’s Avoidable Contact article.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree with April.

          • 0 avatar
            PunksloveTrumpys

            I find it hard to see how anybody can listen to (or overhear) mainstream music in this day and age and think the 1980s or 1990s was a bad decade as far as music was concerned. Completely unimaginative in every way possible.

            Anyway, getting back to talking about cars…

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Lovely point Punkslove. I for one HATED the disco of the ’70s and the hairband movement of the ’80s. I was thrilled when grunge finally put a stake through the heart of the metal power ballad. I’m also sick to death of “Classic Rock”, which continues to play the same old, tired tunes from the Geezer age.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Ummm the 60′s through 80′s produced some of the all time best music created. There is little today that would ever come close. The hair and dress I’ll give you because it varied from long to outrageous.

    • 0 avatar
      MattPete

      The 1980s gave us some great music, from DLR-era Van Halen, to Husker Du and the Minutemen.

  • avatar
    Aircooled Poirot

    The weirdest thing about these Thunderbirds is that they looked exactly like a 7/8 scale reproduce of the previous generation. They even had the same taillights!

    As a kid in the mid 1980s, I remember wondering which generation came first. Or maybe Ford made them at the same time? Why would anyone want a small Thunderbird when you could get a big one that looked exactly the same?

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Those particular wheelcovers are aftermarket, though you could get wire wheelcovers as an option.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This is Ford’s 1957 Packardbaker.

    Ford fell in sales to being NUMBER FOUR during this time and bankruptsy was knocking on Dearborn’s door.

    The only modern platforms available to Ford at this time was the Panther and the Fox. The US version of the Escort had just been unleashed and had to meet demands as the Lynx as well as the Escort on the Market, and was too small for a Thunderbird.

    The old Torino mid-sizers had to go, so everything not on the new full size Panther platform had to move down to the Fox platform, including the Thunderbird and the Cougar. Five years earlier, Ford downsized the T-Bird to the Torino platform, replacing the Elite, and sold a million ‘Birds. The Torino body was a decade old, too heavy, too big, and too obsolete to continue milking.

    This forced the TBird and Cougar onto the Fox body, using a lot of the Fairmont/Zephyr body. Ford already had their new aerodynamic TBird and Cougar, as well as their new Lincoln Mark near completion, but needed to keep the names alive for one short generation. It is a Frankenstein of Ford-Mercury-Lincoln parts.

    Hence – it ended up look like uh, THIS.

    What it lacked in looks, it made up underneath. Remember, the Carter Administration assured everyone driving a car that we would all be out of gas in a decade, or at least, be paying $4 a gallon. This meant everyone needed to tuck their nads up their kilts, and still act like a man. A man in a TBird. But underneath, it was a Fox, which meant it was newer than the old Torino-Bird, and basically a better car engineering-wise.

    It has the TBird tradition of excess. It is essentially a Fairmont with every gadget and faux luxury item added.

    Just as Packard was forced to create the 1957 and 1958 Packardbakers by taking a Studebaker President and Packardizing it, in the hopes that by 1960 something like their Predictor show car could save the brand and it’s legacy – Ford was building a TBirdbaker in the hopes that their Aerocars will save them and save the Thunderbird.

    Sometimes a legendary brand has to prostitute itself a little harder when the bankers are calling in their loans and there is no more loot in the larder.

    This generation of Thunderbird bordello’ed it’s way into the Hall of Shame by letting itself get pimped out a few years as a Fairmont with a crack habit.

    • 0 avatar
      April

      Would you rather had it gone to $4.00 per gallon?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Good to see you posting, VanillaDude, and well said. Not only the aero T-bird, Cougar, and Mark VII in ’83 but the Taurus/Sable, which replaced the equally awfull LTD/Zephyr in ’86; marked the start of Ford’s slow march away from the brink of disaster.

      The appearance of aero cars like these and the 5000s, the Star Wars and Star Trek and other movies, and Reagan make the 80s and 90s my favorite period of history; with the Space Shuttle also flying it was a time of hope for a better future that ended with 9/11 and the .com bust. My favorite music from that time are the soundtracks from the various movies and Cosmos.

      • 0 avatar
        rocketrodeo

        The other part of the story regarding Ford’s shift away from the baroque is Hank the Deuce’s fading influence on Ford’s styling as the 1970s waned. He was heading towards retirement at this point and resigned as CEO in 1979. Design chief Jack Telnack’s best works–the Fox Mustang, the ’83 Thunderbird, and especially the Taurus–quickly distanced Ford from such HF2-mandated overwrought design disasters in the buying public’s consciousness.

        In the late 1970s, I drove a Mustang II with a hood ornament, padded vinyl roof, and opera windows. I am intimately acquainted with this era.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          That’s quite a salient point about HF2. It would be entirely conceivable that, with Iacocca now gone (and Hank the Deuce calling the shots, alone), drek like the ’80-’82 Thunderbird would be entirely possible, even probable. It was like Ford was trying to continue with Iacocca’s sense of reading the market, but the only one who could do that was Iacocca, himself.

          So, in one of his last acts as head of the company, HF2 just tried to copy how GM had successfully downsized their personal luxury cars in 1978. It failed miserably and, with HF2 gone, was fixed with the completely new design 1983 ‘aero’ Bird.

  • avatar
    Numbers_Matching

    mmm..255 or 302?
    I had an ’81 255 fully, fully loaded ‘heritage’ model – digital dash, big puffy leather seats, TRX suspension – and it actually was. Not. That. Bad. – If you got your mind around it.
    Best attribute? – the air worked, and it was Lexus silent. The previous owner had added around 300 lbs of sound deadening material..

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Actually saw one of these beige/beige in running condition in the parking lot of a grocery store, not two weeks ago! The headlamp doors didn’t line up properly, but other than that it looked okay.

    I pointed it out to my friend in the car with me, “Hey that’s a Ford Thunderbird Town Landau Coupe” I said. He replied, “Ugh.”

    Who were these FOR exactly? Someone who really wanted a Mark __ but couldn’t afford it?

  • avatar
    April

    Re: Fox platformed cars. There is a near mint 1981/82 Ford Granada sedan parked at this apartment complex one of my gal pals lives at. It’s the only one I’ve seen in forever.

    Except for a few Mustangs here and there the 1981/82 Fords are definitely forgotten cars.

    One more thing. They (Fairmont/Thunderbird/Granada) had incredibly shallow trunks.

  • avatar
    55_wrench

    This series was the absolute worst of the Birds. Ever.

    I ended up in the back seat of a brand-new one back in the day, going to a business lunch. What I still recall was the skimpy and already-warped headliner trim around the windows & windshield, the wheezy engine, overall poor fit and finish and parts-bin engineering that borrowed the steering wheel and switchgear from the regular full size Fords.

    I’m sure age only made it all worse.

    At least the previous series had the size to make you feel like you were in a luxury car..this thing felt like you had to buy into some sort of austerity pact.

    The following series (aero) really was an improvement.

    Of course, my previous point of reference was the ’63 that was an absolute beast, one of two “His N Hers” with a 406 and swing away steering wheel, owned by my relatives up north. THAT was a Bird. Anything else paled in comparison. And still does.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Wow. I was just at a car show at a Ford dealer Sunday and saw one of these in showroom condition. Orangey brown paint, landau, and interior. There was a lot of cool stuff there, but I was most awestruck by one of these surviving. I wondered if MM had ever found one, and now here it is.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I saw one out and about a while ago…it managed to look WORSE than this junkyard example.

    Give me an aero-Bird any day of the week. Turbo Coupe or whatever the sporty model was with a 5.0, either one works.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Just on CL a few weeks ago was a perfect condition, always garaged black/red Thunder Coupe from 85 or 86 with the 5.0. He was asking $3200 or something. Seemed like a great deal!

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Damn right it does, even a ratty Fox Mustang GT can cost like 3 grand.

        I’ve personally seen a guy trying to sell his totally f%*#ed ’85 GT for two grand when, due to the shot paint, rust creep, and trashed interior, it was a 800 dollar car at most.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Hey I like this too:

          http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/4110347107.html

          Properly large coupe. And wasn’t the Town Coupe rare?

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Actually the downsized 80-82 Town coupe was quite rare. Many more Town Cars were sold. The only difference between them and the Mark VI was the hidden headlamps and oval opera windows. Also these were the only Mark’s offered as 4 drs. Some even had the hidden headlamps converted to single rounds that looked like the car Shaft drove.

    • 0 avatar
      otaku

      “Give me an aero-Bird any day of the week.”

      Abso-fricken-lutely.

      My first car was a slightly used black ’86 Turbo Coupe. Although it shared much of the same mechanicals as my brother’s more powerful Mustang GT, the T-Bird was a lot more comfortable and just seemed WAY classier.

      Despite its many flaws, I don’t think I’ll ever love a car the same way again (he said wistfully)…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I would love one of these rare ‘birds as a project car just to see how much late model Fox ‘Stang I could stuff under the exterior.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Sounds like a top tier sleeper.

    • 0 avatar

      The answer to that is: All of it. The driveshaft is about 8″ longer, but otherwise everything else is exactly the same. You could bolt in a 4.6 Modular V8 with just the right K member from the later Mustang and a hammer (some clearance issue with the strut tower) a Tremec tranny and even the IRS from the Cobra. It will all bolt right up.

      My 24 Lemons car is a Futura with the straight six, but there is another Futura running the 4.6 swap from a wrecked 97? Mustang.

      All the brakes and suspension upgrades bolt right up too. There is a guy on the early Fox body forum with a Fox Lincoln Continental autocross car.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    It is as ugly as sin.

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      Shoot…………… if you think this is ugly, check out the 80-82 Mercury Cougar XR7.

      Even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        droman1972

        I actually owned an 81 XR7. My friends named it “The Beige Bomber”. It got me through high school, and somehow managed not be terrible enough looking to the ladies to keep the back seat from being used. Looking back, now I can say it really wasn’t a horrible car. Everything worked, it only caught on fire once and had a straight six in it that was about as easy to work on as any 16 to 18 year old could ask for at the time. Ran allot better than the 87 Escort GT I sold it for…but that…is a whole different story.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Having owned a Fox Mustang I’m not the biggest fan of the fox platform, though I wouldn’t mind the rare 80′s turbo-charged LTD, tasteful standard Fairmount looks with SVO Mustang performance underneath. Though I wouldn’t mind a Capri notchback either.

    That being said this “Thunderbird Town Landau” (Lovely name btw, rolls right off the tongue) is anything but tasteful, it takes the somewhat excessive styling from big cars of the time and crams it into a smaller car, which really just looks more tacky than ugly.

    Next to the LTDs and bigger Crown Victoria LTDs its no surprise that the “TTL” didn’t sell very well for the few years it stuck around.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    A Fairmont by any other name indeed. 2 doors not enough? Buy the LTD version. These cars were bad news, particularly with the Motorcraft variable venturi carburetor. The ignition modules were prone to failure at the most inopportune times, like while making left turns at busy intersections, ect.. This car was a competitor to the GM personal luxury ‘intermediates’ such as the Cutlass Supreme and Regal, but was nowhere near as good a car. Probably not as good as the ‘pre-K’ Chrysler LeBaron coupe either.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yes, can’t remember when the 4-door, trimmed-down LTD/Marquis with some aero tweaks replaced the boxier Fairmont/Futura/Zephyr while the LTD Crown Vic/Grand Marquis became the Panthers.

      The LTD/Marquis had an identical dash, if not seats, etc. Recall that Lincoln birthed the first version of the Continental off this platform, with every Atari-dash goodie known to mankind, with a slightly different dash and center stack with enough electronics to stock a Radio Shack.

      Sajeev, anyone else, by this time, wasn’t a 3.8L V6 with 4AOD standard equipment, with the 5.0L V8 optional? I know that the first couple years of the Continental were sucktastic, but they improved greatly as the years moved along, before the Conti moved onto the new Taurus/Sable platform.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        The 3.3 liter 200 six was the base mill with the 3.8 Essex V6 an option and the 4.2 liter 255 V8 was the top offering this year with all but 111 HP. At least Ford had the sense to pair the 4.2 with the overdrive automatic and a reasonable 3.08:1 rear end.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Some say ‘worst ever’, but the Fox platform is tough as nails, and it morphed into the critically acclaimed 1983-87. And big deal, it was only on sale for 3 years. I think the fat man 72-76 Birds were worse, with 8 mpg and ‘floaty’ driving.

    These Birds can be turned into a quick drag car with the huge aftermarket parts market for Fox cars. One 1980 T-Bird was featured on the late Speed Channel show ‘Pinks’, and had a modded Ford small block. Was painted grey, but still had an orange steering wheel. A true sleeper.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Say I like the look of these birds. Nice pram from Ford. Would have got one to replace the 75 Seville. Who here actually owned one, were they comfy and reasonably reliable? Blast Fleshful Fantasy.

  • avatar
    DM335

    After the great-selling Torino-based 77-79 Thunderbirds, these were truly a disappointment. The optional electronics were amazing for a 1980 model, especially when you consider that the 5-button keyless entry system continues to this day on some Ford models. Most 80-82 Thunderbirds were pretty bland. As the video states, you could customize one in many different ways. There were at least a dozen colors, 5 or 6 interior colors and an assortment of options. If I remember correctly, the roof options consisted of painted, full vinyl, half vinyl, padded half vinyl, carriage roof, Town Landau half vinyl and Anniversary/Heritage half vinyl. It was probably hard to have 2 Thunderbirds of this era look alike. At least they were distinctive compared to many other cars on the market.

    My aunt had a 1980 Silver Anniversary Thunderbird (predecessor to Heritage series), which had to have been the most troublesome car she ever owned. This replaced a mid-70s Granada that she wished she had never traded, which says something. She replaced it with a Cutlass Ciera a few years later (and has been a Camry owner since then). My mom had a 1982 Town Landau that she had no problems with, but she traded it for on of the 1983 aero-birds just over a year later.

    Overall these were cheaply-built representations of what a Thunderbird should be. If, as some people have suggested, this was the necessary evil to get to the successful 1983 model, then it was worth the pain.

    Weirdly enough, the front end of the previous generation Infiniti QX56 has always reminded me of the front end of these Thunderbirds.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Forgot that 1980 was the debut of the onboard keyless-entry and the 4AOD transmission; the former was genius, the latter a POS, if what I’ve heard is correct. (This from the era where the Ford feature which turned on the interior lights and lit the driver’s keyhole when you lifted the door handle was cool!)

  • avatar
    CGHill

    I’m not persuaded that the ’83s were all that wonderful. For a while, I tooled about in an ’84 Cougar the color of ketchup, and not proper Heinz ketchup either. Deirdre, as she was known, was a weird mix of futuristic and dowdy, with a seriously comfy, albeit plasticky, interior, and the least informative dash since that curved sucker they put on Oldsmobiles back at the turn of the century. No, the _other_ century.

    And the poor girl was saddled with the Essex V6, which was a decent little torque monster — 205 ft-lb at just above idle — when it wasn’t coughing up pieces of head gasket.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    True, not a bad platform, but as for everything else……
    At least the ’83 LOOKED a lot better, and those became better cars when they offered the fuel injected 5.0L. Remember the Fila version? Nice, but in a ‘Like, oh my gawd’ 80′s sense.

    Heaven help you if the heater core ever sprung a leak. One of the worst cars ever to try to get the dash out of.

    • 0 avatar
      west-coaster

      I actually owned an ’88 T-Bird, the final year of that “aero” series.

      It was the Sport, which meant it got the interior of the Turbo Coupe (nice bucket seats, floor shift, proper analong gauges) plus the EFI V8.

      In all, it was a really nice combination of the attributes of those ‘Birds. The quiet interior and syrupy-smooth V8 of the luxury versions, but with the sportier interior and trim of the turbos (but without the lack of low-end grunt and somewhat tacky exterior).

  • avatar
    threeer

    Back in 1981, one of my dad’s fellow Sergeants had ordered a spanking-new T-bird. Given that we were in Germany at the time, he had to patiently wait as it was sailed across the Atlantic. Word came that the ship was arriving, so he made the train trip all the way up to Bremerhaven to pick it up. When he arrived at the dock, he was greeted by both local German customs agents and US military customs folks. He was informed that there had been a “mishap” during off-loading. When they took him to inspect the incident, he turned the corner to find that his minty-new T-bird was nothing more than the equivalent of bird splatter on pavement. Seems when they were off-loading the crate, the crane lost its grip, and the entire container tumbled straight to the ground. Bits and pieces were all that was left. I distinctly remember when he got back home how, um, upset he was. Old crusty Sergeants have a way with words, you know!
    Of course, insurance kicked in, but it took several months before a replacement was sent (and not dropped).
    I guess growing up with friends who had a 78 T-bird (when we had a “lowly” 76 Montego) and then a friend who’s dad sported an 85 LTD Crown Vic with the crushed velvet interior (compared to our 81 Corolla), I always kind of viewed these as being more upscale than they really were. Perception and all that crap…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I used to call these Fairmont Birds. The aeros were a vast improvement. The front split bench seat in this one is the same as the Fox based 83-87 Continential. Very plush and comfy.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I always thought these were the T-bird’s nadir . When they were knew , even the on-the-take auto enthusiast magazines of the time could barely muster any positive comments . IIRC , a lot of the ( few ) positive comments were about the keyless entry . Even when new , they were being derisively called ” Thunderbricks ” in the media . I always thought that all the Ford models of the pre- Aero part of the eighties featured the absolute worst exterior styling of any of the American car makers of the malaise era . The exterior details were unbelievably cheap – worse than the crappiest die-cast toy , like something out of the Soviet bloc . When new , they were almost never seen as they were total sales flops . For every 30 or so new GM midsized coupes that I would see back in the early eighties I might see one T- bird or the almost as ugly Cougar of the same years . The Aerobird and Taurus truly saved Ford .

  • avatar
    dtremit

    My grandfather — a Rouge plant retiree — took one look at the 1983 Thunderbird press photos and hurried down to the Ford dealer…to buy one of these. He did not care for the “broken egg” styling of the Aerobirds one bit, and traded in his somewhat problematic ’77(?) Lincoln Town Coupe on an ’82 very similar to this one. Same color combo, though it had a (factory) carriage roof and slightly different seats.

    I think this car may be the only car ever manufactured that looks *better* with a carriage roof. Somehow, it fixes the awkward proportions of the roof and rear fenders a little bit and makes this a fairly distinguished looking car (particularly with the wire wheelcovers). It’s still not a thing of beauty, but it’s much improved. In the years my grandfather owned the car, a fair number of people commented that it was the only good looking example of this series of Thunderbird that they’d ever seen. It was rare enough that I can’t find a good picture of one, but there’s a red one in the brochure for ’82:

    http://goo.gl/6cUS8h

    (Notably, the correct wire wheelcovers can be seen on page 10.)

    An odd fact about these: they are four seaters. The rear seat has a fixed armrest and two seat belts. This was apparently a fuel economy trick — at the time, the amount of weight the car needed to be loaded with during EPA tests was based on the number of seats. By excluding one, the car eked out a slightly better score.

    The Fox body interchangeability meant that the dashboard of this car actually got a lot more mileage than the car itself — it was carried over to the 1983 aero Thunderbird, oddly enough, with minor modifications. The *exact* panel was used on the ’83-’85 Fox-based LTD.

    I have a lot of (admittedly irrational) fond memories of this car; I actually owned it very briefly after my grandfather traded it in for a Taurus in ’96. He never had any major issues with it, though admittedly the mileage was low, and when we sold it the only real problem was a failing headliner. I’d love to find a blue one with the carriage top and do a really fast, stealth car.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I’m suprised and a tad disappointed that Crabspirits didn’t put one of the characters from the commercial, now overweight, old and seriously down and out, behind the wheel of this one in its last days!

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I didn’t read every comment so I’m not sure if I’m the lone dissenter or not, but I like these. Not for what they are, but what could be done with them. It is built on the Fox chassis, making swapping over later Mustang components to create the ultimate sleeper relatively easy. While it isn’t the best looking car ever, I’m old enough to remember a couple teams running these in NASCAR before the “aero” Thunderbird came out in 1983 and believe it or not they looked pretty good in Winston Cup trim. Then again, pretty much any car at the time looked good when built into a stock car. “Stock” car may have been a relative term at that point, but you’d be surprised how many prodution components made it onto Cup cars from that era, particular body parts.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    I always remember my Grandfather’s T-Birds. Since the 60s, every time a new model came out, he bought it. This one above is why he switched over to the Crown Vic.

    They were equally boring to drive, but making the trip down the I-75 on the way to Florida in the Crown Vic is a lot more fun because people move over as soon as they saw you coming.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    At the time, this car made me nauseous. It still does.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The 80-82 Birds and Cougars were a victim of the times in a way. The 77-79 models were too large, heavy and fuel thirsty but still sold well. Ford’s only real option was to use the plentiful and available Fox platform and to carry on the traditional look in a new smaller, lighter more efficient package. The 4 speed AOD transmission, electronic instrument cluster and keyless entry system were much ballyhooed innovations. The 302 V8 with the optional TRX suspension suspension package meant that these cars not only accelerated better but out handled there predecessors by a huge margin. By 1980 standards performance was on the way out, V8 was a swear word, emissions and fuel mileage were ever important and padded Landau roof treatments and tufted pillow top seats were quickly taking over in it’s place. it wasn’t until 1983 when Ford took these cars in a very different direction with much of the exterior trim and chrome removed and the interiors were toned down big time. That plus aero was the in thing with rounder and slippery shapes replacing the square formal lines.

    Many condemn the 80-82 cars as the worst T-birds but that title IMO goes to the 77-79′s which were too large, heavy, slow and thirsty. The 80-82 drove so much more sharper with the rack and pinion steering and the 302 equipped models were peppy for there day and ripe for modification. The 1982 model here was the worst as far as performance. The base engine was the sluggish 88 HP 200 straight six tied to the 3 speed automatic. Next up on the option’s list was Ford’s new lightweight 3.8 liter Essex V6 with 105 HP and also tied to a 3 speed automatic. The top option was the 111 HP 4.2 liter 255 V8 tied to the 4 speed AOD transmission as the 302 was dropped off the option list. Of course there was no Turbo coupe yet available as the 2.3 turbo wasn’t yet introduced into this line.

    That all changed for 1983 of course with a new aero body, Throttle body injection, wider use of the AOD transmission, a far more sparse exterior and interior and greater emphasis on sport and handling than ever before.


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