The Truth About Cars » ford thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 12 Sep 2014 13:00:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » ford thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1979-ford-thunderbird/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791097 Sajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white […]

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10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSajeev no doubt wept bitter tears when he saw the near-showroom-condition ’76 Continental Junkyard Find last week, and I’m going to keep those Malaise Era Ford tears flowing with another 1970s luxury FoMoCo product from the same California self-serve yard. This one isn’t quite as nice as the Lincoln, but just check out the metallic-green-and-white two-tone paint job!
07 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI could look up the horsepower numbers on the ’79 Thunderbird‘s 351M engine, but the figures would just make us all depressed. Let’s just say that this car had enough torque to get moving fairly well for its era (i.e., it would get smoked by a 3-cylinder Mirage today).
16 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis can’t possibly be a factory paint job, can it?
13 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOf course it has a landau vinyl roof!
04 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 MPH speedometer, according to 1979 regulations.
05 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe velour buckets are no longer as luxurious as they once were.


This ad for the similar ’77 Thunderbird shows the 85mph speedo in full effect, plus a very cocaineophile-looking driver. Radio comes as standard equipment!

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Junkyard Find: 1990 Ford Thunderbird Super Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1990-ford-thunderbird-super-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1990-ford-thunderbird-super-coupe/#comments Wed, 04 Jul 2012 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451188 The Thunderbird got an independent rear suspension in the 1989 model year, and Ford added a supercharger to its 3.8 engine and created the Super Coupe. Motor Trend, probably still smarting from the Renault Alliance fiasco earlier in the decade, awarded its Car of the Year award to the Super Coupe, and we can assume […]

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The Thunderbird got an independent rear suspension in the 1989 model year, and Ford added a supercharger to its 3.8 engine and created the Super Coupe. Motor Trend, probably still smarting from the Renault Alliance fiasco earlier in the decade, awarded its Car of the Year award to the Super Coupe, and we can assume that the buyer of today’s Junkyard Find believed that he or she was buying the best car of 1990.
With 210 horsepower on tap and big-for-the-time 16-inch aluminum wheels, the Super Coupe was quite sporty.
This one only made it to 143K on the clock, but I’m sure each mile was lived to the fullest.
Premium Sound! The Junkyard Boogaloo Boombox uses Ford Premium Sound 6×9 speakers, and they aren’t as premium as I’d hoped they’d be.
We’ve seen a few of these cars in 24 Hours of LeMons racing, which says a lot about depreciation for worn-out MN12s. They aren’t particularly quick on a road course— about on par with the 302-powered Fox T-Birds— and the engines tend to explode after a few hours of full-throttle abuse, but supercharging is always cool.

21 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1966 Ford Thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1966-ford-thunderbird/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1966-ford-thunderbird/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2011 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=397741 Here’s a car that I’ve been seeing in my neighborhood for a year now; on a busy street that makes photography tough, it kept getting sort of overlooked by me when I went out hunting cars with camera in hand. Yesterday, however, I decided that a 45-year-old, 4,400-pound personal luxury coupe that still survives on […]

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Here’s a car that I’ve been seeing in my neighborhood for a year now; on a busy street that makes photography tough, it kept getting sort of overlooked by me when I went out hunting cars with camera in hand. Yesterday, however, I decided that a 45-year-old, 4,400-pound personal luxury coupe that still survives on the street deserves to be admired.

Thunderbirds of the middle 1960s sometimes get overlooked; not quite as swoopy and/or sporty as their predecessors, yet not as absurdly, bloattastically Malaise-ified as the T-Birds that grunted off Dearborn’s assembly lines in the following decade.

This one isn’t quite perfect, but it appears to be a good solid rust-free survivor.

A 275-horsepower 390 was the standard engine for 1966, but optional powerplant choices included 410- and 425-horse 427s (dual-quad carburetors on the latter), plus a 345-horsepower 428. Sadly, a manual transmission wasn’t an option.

DOTSD-MaroonTBird-01 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-02 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-03 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-04 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-05 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-06 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-07 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-08 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-09 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-10 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-11 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-12 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-13 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-14 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-15 DOTSD-MaroonTBird-16 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Capsule Review: 1996 Ford Thunderbird and the Gigolo Skills http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/capsule-review-1996-ford-thunderbird-and-the-gigolo-skills/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/capsule-review-1996-ford-thunderbird-and-the-gigolo-skills/#comments Mon, 07 Jun 2010 02:02:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358351 So where were we? Oh yes. After wandering the earth (and working in a call center) for the first few months of 1995, I ended up at a very small Ford dealership located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. On my first day, I was paired with another fellow who was also starting out at […]

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So where were we? Oh yes. After wandering the earth (and working in a call center) for the first few months of 1995, I ended up at a very small Ford dealership located in the heart of Columbus, Ohio. On my first day, I was paired with another fellow who was also starting out at the dealership. I’ll call him… Rodney. He was an outgoing, cheerful thirty-one-year-old man who looked remarkably like the Colt 45-commercial-era Billy Dee Williams. Rodney was very interested in the dealership’s demo program, because he didn’t own a car. Every day he walked from his apartment a mile or so away, and every night he walked back home. The general manager took pity on him and broke the thirty-days-of-service-before-a-demo rule to put him in a Ranger Club Cab.

I started slowly at the dealership but by the time the 1996 model year rolled around I was regularly one of the top two or three guys on the board every month. More importantly, I was the most effective advocate in the shop for the Red Carpet Lease 24-month program. One month I moved 16 units and leased 14 of ‘em. At least three of those were people I’d had to dissuade from writing me a check for the whole car on the spot. That’s right, I converted cash buyers to lessors. Why? There was a fifty-dollar spiff.

I was eventually rewarded for my performance by being permitted to order my own demo, just like the 55-year-old Brylcreemers who had been serving at the store since before ‘Nam. I knew exactly what I wanted. Start with a 1996 Thunderbird LX, black with beige interior. Add just three options: Compact disc player. Power Moonroof. And, most importantly, a 4.6 “mod motor”. The order was accepted at the factory. I was four weeks away from my ‘Bird. But Rodney had some other plans involving Ford’s aging coupe…

I tried to find a decent photo of the ’94-97 T-Bird cockpit, without success. Take my word for it: it was pretty good when it was new. Ford kind of lost interest in the “American Six Series” after 1994. The supercharged, manual-transmission Super Coupe was taken out of the lineup, while both interior and exterior were modified to share more parts with the Mercury Cougar. The 4.6 V8 didn’t really impress in the Mustang, but in the ‘Bird Ford had found a happier marriage of motor and mission. Big, sleek, reasonably fast, and very comfy, the 1996 Thunderbird was a good car at a very fair price. My demo priced out at $21,750 or so, actually slightly cheaper than a Taurus LX with the same equipment would have cost.

Unfortunately, nobody wanted ‘em. Young people wouldn’t be caught dead in an automatic-transmission American coupe, while older people hated the massive doors and the contortions required to lower one’s self into the seats. It was a shame, really, because dynamically this was a decent car. The transmission usually found the right gear and the steering was honest. You could drive these cars really quickly on the right road. Of the cars available to our little dealership, only the Contour SE was usefully faster when the road turned twisty. Remember, the MN12 platform had a very sophisticated rear suspension to hold up all that weight.

Of course, the T-Bird name still meant something to some people. And so it was that the phone rang late one Friday evening at Rodney’s desk. A recently-widowed woman in her early sixties was looking for a car, but she wasn’t comfortable driving at night. Could someone bring her a Thunderbird to examine?

The correct answer would be “No.” Every salesman worth his salt knows to never take a car to a “customer”. Real customers can take a moment out of their lives to make a $20,000 purchase. It’s true for Ferraris and it’s true for Fiestas. But Rodney was bored and he wanted to take the only Bird on our lot home for the night anyway. Why not? On the way out, the general manager said, “Don’t bring that car back unsold. If you do, you’ll pay the price for wasting miles and time.”

He drove twenty miles to the big house set a quarter-mile off the rural road and met the widow at her front door. She was lonely, and if Rodney was half her age and, ahem, somewhat different from her, perhaps the bottle of Chardonnay she’d already half-finished helped her to overcome those minor quibbles. Since TTAC is a family-oriented website, I won’t relate the details of how Rodney attempted to persuade her to buy the Thunderbird without having to look her in the face at the time. The adult reader can work out the details for himself. After an hour or so of these negotiations, the widow pronounced herself completely satisfied and asked Rodney to stay until the morning so she could evaluate the car in the daylight.

More negotiations followed in the morning, but alas, the ‘Bird didn’t catch her fancy quite like Rodney did. Unlike our rather pliant young sales-hero, the Ford provided some arthritis-related complications to entry and exit. She sent Rodney back to the dealership to fetch her a Taurus. Naturally, the boss wasn’t having it and Rodney was grounded from those sorts of missions from then on.

One fine Monday, my ‘Bird arrived on the transporter, just the way I ordered it. The not-so-fine Tuesday that followed, there was an all-hands meeting. The dealership principal’s son, known to all and sundry as “Droopy” for his remarkable resemblance to the cartoon canine of that name, was buying the dealership from his father. Ford Credit was floorplanning the transaction, and they didn’t much care for salespeople driving new-car demonstrators. The used-car manager went to the auction and bought six ex-rental ’94 Tauri to be used as “demos”. Mine was green, with a green interior, and it smelled like the bottom of an ashtray.

Every day the black Bird sat there in the showroom and taunted me. I roped in a fellow who wanted a Crown Vic. Sold him the Bird at invoice. Met him at dinner and handed him the $150 I’d earned as commission on the sale. Got into my crappy rental car and drove home. My wife met me at the door and said the boss had called. Had I seen Rodney? He’d left on a demo drive with a middle-aged woman. Mustang convertible. They were waiting to lock the doors, but Rodney hadn’t returned. Did I have any ideas?

“Nice to see,” I said, “that I’m not the only person around here getting f…”

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Auto-Biography 20: Fun, Fun, Fun http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/06/auto-biography-20-fun-fun-fun/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/06/auto-biography-20-fun-fun-fun/#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2007 11:48:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=3918 1983fordthunderbird.jpgBuying my first new car was a lot like losing my virginity: it was unplanned, impulsive and quick. Even though it didn’t turn out exactly as I might have expected, I certainly don’t regret it; it was an inevitable rite of passage. There has to be a first time. At least the glow of satisfaction lasted longer (with the car).

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Buying my first new car was a lot like losing my virginity: it was unplanned, impulsive and quick. Even though it didn’t turn out exactly as I might have expected, I certainly don’t regret it; it was an inevitable rite of passage. There has to be a first time. At least the glow of satisfaction lasted longer (with the car).

Anyway, there I was, innocently tooling to work, driving past the Ford dealer in Santa Monica, when SHE winked at me: the first 1983 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe in town. She was young and fresh, straight off the trailer. With her long sleek bod, she stood out from the crowded lot of boxy Fords like Keira Knightley at a Weight Watcher’s convention. I knew immediately: we were meant for each other.

The Thunderbird’s sheetmetal was the harbinger of a mega-tsunami of aero-design about to wash over the automotive industry. Compared to the angular, landau-roofed Detroit iron of the time, compared to equally sharp-edged Benzes and Bimmers, the T-Bird was literally a fresh of breath air.

“I want this car now,” I told the groggy salesman. “I’ll write you a check for it. I need to get to work– in this car.”

The salesman eyed me with suspicious satisfaction, nursing his morning Java. “Want some coffee? How about some rubber mats and protective sealer?”

“No. Just tell me how much it costs so I can get out of here.”

The Maharishi owed me. Since taking over his near-bankrupt LA TV station, I’d canceled the guru’s endless TM lectures and turned KSCI into a Tower of Babel− programming in no less than fifteen Asian and Middle-Eastern languages.I’d made the man some serious money (wired to off-shore accounts).

I called the station’s business manager and told him to bring the company check book.

Despite the salesman’s best efforts to add as many options as possible to my impulse purchase, I arrived at work late that morning, with a big grin on my face.

I soon discovered that the Turbo Coupe’s beauty wasn’t just skin deep. The interior was uncharacteristically clean and solid. The multi-adjustable leather seats had inflatable lumbar support, with squeeze-bulbs sourced from a blood-pressure cuff.

Raising most hoods back then was like confronting the convoluted entrails of a freshly-slit pork belly. You were lucky to catch a glimpse of the engine under miles of contorted hoses. The Thunderbird Coupe had bragging rights to the most advanced engine management electronics of its time (EEC-IV). The innovation made popping the Bird’s long beak a visual treat.

The little four-banger sat naked, adorned with some nice alloy. Its 145hp output may seem pathetic today, but what was the alternative? Even BMW was on an economy binge; the only 5-Series available had all of 128hp, and the 3-Series barely harnessed 100 horses (a pricey way to save fuel).

The T-Bird shared Ford’s Fox rear wheel-drive platform with the Mustang. The Bird was anorexic (3000lbs) yet solid. With the little four in the front, decent steering and Michelin TRX wheels/tires, she was light on her feet, a real dancer. Riding her gently yielded thirty mpg.

Just as well. The moment you cranked her above 4000rpm, the mill’s Pinto roots screamed back. (It’s hard to cover up bad family genes.)

The engine lacked palpable boost below 2500rpm; flooring her was an invitation to turbo-hole hell. The fun came in short, intense bursts. Four adults on board with the A/C on was an embarrassment, and had me thinking V8 engine swap.

Once at speed, all was forgiven. Four thousand rpm on the clock corresponded to an effortless 100 mph cruise. After my loathsome Buick Skylark company car, it was a revelation. On our first family trip to Mammoth in the ‘Bird, I set the cruise control at that happy speed. Shooting across the purple Mohave at sunset and up the Owens Valley under a starry sky was cargasmic.

I had to make regular business trips to San Bernardino. Instead of using I-10, I traversed the whole length of the San Gabriel Mountains via Angeles Crest highway, an all-time peak driving road. I crossed tire-marks with other kindred office escapees eager to work out pent-up competitive urges.

Our fling was short but sweet. Maharishi peddled bliss and tranquility, but working for him induced stress. So I jumped ship, in a long-shot move to buy a TV station. The ‘Bird stayed behind, to be abused by several TM space-cadets sent to replace me. They destroyed it within nine months.

I still buy new cars impulsively; SOME things never change. Fortunately for my bank balance, I keep my cars for eight to fifteen years, or even forever, like my old Ford truck. And I limit my impulsiveness to cars. As my wife of thirty years will tell you, that’s no bad thing.

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