The Truth About Cars » thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 23:24:13 +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 » thunderbird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Vellum Venom Vignette: My Brother’s Keeper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/vellum-venom-vignette-brothers-keeper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/vellum-venom-vignette-brothers-keeper/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:41:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904169 Reader Request: discuss the Lincoln Mark VIII, preferably the second generation’s modest restyle. He likely didn’t care for my reply, as it follows my disapproval of the Original Testarossa versus that rolling abortion that disrespectfully ended Ferrari’s most iconic series. Then I parked beside a 2000 Mercury Sable on a fine Houston evening. Allow me […]

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Reader Request: discuss the Lincoln Mark VIII, preferably the second generation’s modest restyle. He likely didn’t care for my reply, as it follows my disapproval of the Original Testarossa versus that rolling abortion that disrespectfully ended Ferrari’s most iconic series.

Then I parked beside a 2000 Mercury Sable on a fine Houston evening.

1996_Mercury_Sable_004_3199

Allow me to explain with Lincoln-Mercury fanboi facts. The 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII was an avant-garde reinstatement of Lee Iaococca’s “Thunderbird designed by a guy named Vinnie” : blending delicious proportions of the 1989 Thunderbird, sculptural elements of the 1993 Ford Probe and the once-mandatory Continental DNA of the once-relevant Lincoln Brand.

The 1996 Sable, avoiding the ovoid pitfall of its Taurus sister ship, went four door Mark VIII: right down to the elegant roof and slender tail lights!

2004-mercury-sable-side_mesab043

Both the redesigned Mark VIII (1997) and the redesigned Sable (2000) took the original idea and milquetoasted it hopes of regaining lost sales. Neither worked, literally.

So let’s go back to the parking lot.

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These brothers couldn’t be more different, even if they are the same. How did the original coke-bottle remain appealing (if you like American luxury coupes) while its younger brother got married, had a family and multiple failed careers after 1999?

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When these two brothers meet their maker, bodies reincarnated into crap we buy at WalMart, their souls will uncomfortably meet in heaven. Those two kids lived unique lives, but they know there’s no escaping the genetic connection. Blood is always thicker than water.

And the Cain and Abel reference? That’s more for the bloodbath between the Testarossa and the 512M. That’s gonna get ugly: 512M ugly.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

 

 

 

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Super Piston Slap: I Know What I Don’t Know http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/super-piston-slap-i-know-what-i-dont-know/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/super-piston-slap-i-know-what-i-dont-know/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:45:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=851082 Were you ever taught something you already knew, something you normally teach others? That moment of surrealism came for this regional LeMons Judge while attending the Newbie School in a new racing series called the World Racing League. Baruth already gave you a tease: I set aside the idiotic ironic Indian Chief hat of LeMons […]

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Were you ever taught something you already knew, something you normally teach others? That moment of surrealism came for this regional LeMons Judge while attending the Newbie School in a new racing series called the World Racing League. Baruth already gave you a tease: I set aside the idiotic ironic Indian Chief hat of LeMons for a weekend stint as a racer/pit crew/errand boy with the same team that brought you the iconic Ford Fairmont Wagon: now with more Granada.

To see the stance is to know it: Property Devaluation Racing made a worthy successor to their Fox station wagon.  So when these guys offered me a spot in the Granada and their similarly-spec’d Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, I took Friday off, forked over the fees, picked up another Fox Body loyalist from Hobby Airport (you might remember his Homer Simpson car) and hit the road for College Station.

I drove the Granada for 10 minutes during the Friday afternoon test ‘n tune session, and felt great: the Granada’s flat cornering with mild understeer was a natural transition from my street going Fox Body Cougar.  But the first day of racing?

Logging 100-ish miles in the Thunderbird was a different story: the Granada’s tame demeanor was replaced with something a (handling savvy) teammate later explained as body roll induced oversteer. The Thunderbird had razor-sharp turn-in, so sloppy steering inputs netted body roll which reduced the rear tire’s contact patch, easily inducing oversteer.  Lap 1 resulted in a huge spin entering a corner at around 50mph.  Lap 2 was no better: a similar wipeout left me bewildered, frustrated.

Both times I self-reported my impending black flags before the staff received word from the corner workers. Perhaps LeMons taught me well.

Not well enough. The Thunderbird’s owner’s words in my Nerdie helmet kit were clear: spin again and you’re out for good.  It was the reality check I needed, quickly swallowing my pride and methodically retracing the track at a slower pace. This let me understand how drastically the Thunderbird sits/lifts with my steering inputs.

Racing the Thunderbird was like a scientific experiment: repeat the process but alter a variable every time.  Enter the turn at the right speed, monitor your steering inputs and smoothly accelerate exit post-apex.  If you turned too hot, the rear tires howled: slightly dial the wheel back and they shut up.  Thank goodness for TWS’ banked oval, it was the only place I blipped the throttle, downshifted to 3rd and comfortably unwound the Thunderbird’s wicked Windsor V8 to pass “slower” cars. Sure I was slow and hyper-conscious elsewhere, but the banked oval experience continues to give me goosebumps.

Now the World Racing League is an interesting series: damn near any class of car races on the same track.  I was passed by far more professional drivers in LeMons cars, Spec Miatas and misc. track beasts to the point my left hand seemingly spent more time doing the “point by” for others than grasping the tiller. And a certain Poorvette absolutely clobbered every car out there, as you’d expect from the wholly under appreciated C4 Corvette.

I learned something besides the obligatory “damn that was so exciting I’d totally do it again” statement of any autojourno in my shoes: my racing technique toolbox just multiplied. The Thunderbird gave me a new set of tools, items previously more foreign than Portuguese.  So now I Know What I Don’t Know. Several of my friends suggested I embrace this new addiction to hone my skills, as I’m now a racer.

No dice.

Racing brought me a short term joy that I will gladly spend another $1000 in fees, gas, hotel, meals, etc. to replicate another weekend.  But the Thunderbird helped me cross a (final?) frontier: I did what made moonshiners so famous, racing/working on a boring car made from bits of more impressive vehicles. This experience crystallized my plan to write the definitive story of Ford’s underappreciated chassis.  I told others about this (including a working vacation to the Detroit Public Library) and they agreed: that’s a book they’d read.

Which isn’t exactly the point: like the benefits of grade school music programs, racing helps you in your real world.

It’s a deeply personal experience that everyone with a modicum of disposable income should try. Go race and then make yourself. Just don’t get motivated to write a book about Fox Bodies, that’s my schtick.

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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!

01 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Ford Thunderbird Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Piston Slap: You’ve Got to be All Mine…Foxy Lady! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-youve-got-to-be-all-mine-foxy-lady/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:50:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=784545   TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes: Hello Sajeev, Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the […]

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Mark VII

TTAC Commentator Thunderjet writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Last year I picked up a ’91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC for $800. It’s in decent shape for being a Chicago area car and having 153K on the clock. The body has no major rust issues except for the front fenders, which have rust holes due to the sunroof drains, so the car will eventually need new fenders. The under body and frame are rust free and very clean. The car sat for several years before I purchased it and over the last year I have put about $500 into the car replacing various wear/tune up items (water pump, hoses, belt, cap, rotor, plug wires, spark plugs, and the starter). The car runs well and I’ve always wanted one, being that I have been a Fox Body nut since I started driving.

I would like to keep the car as I enjoy driving it. My daily driver is a 2011 Ford Focus SE bought new. It currently has about 28K on it and I’m hoping to keep it another 10 years or more. The Mark VII needs several things to make it more presentable including a paint job and the replacement of some of the leather panels on the front seats. In addition I would like to replace some wear items on the car such as the air springs so I won’t have to worry about failure in the future. I can do the repairs as time/budget allow and probably get a pretty nice car in the end.

??????????

The issue I’m having a problem with is that I already have a fun car that I tinker with: a 1988 Ford Thunderbird LX. It’s a factory 5.0 car with Edelbrock aluminum heads, a GT40 intake, .533 lift Comp roller cam, AOD with 2800 stall converter, and a 3:73 Traction-Lok differential. It’s a fun car and it’s the first car I ever bought. It’s not going away as the improvements I’ve made to the Thunderbird in the last 12 years I’ve owned the car make it too fun to part with. Also being my first car the Thunderbird is special to me.

I’m wondering if it makes sense for me to have two project/fun cars or if it’s overkill? A little background on me: I’m in my late 20’s and I’ll be getting married later this year. My fiancé doesn’t mind cars and in fact likes them as her daily driver is a 2012 Mustang V6 in Grabber Blue. I own my own house outright and I only have two sources of debt: about $15K I’m paying off in student loans for my master’s degree and the other two years on the loan for my Focus. I bought a new car as a daily driver as the dealer offered me 0% for 60 months. Who am I to say no to free money from Ford Credit? I am saving for retirement and put 15% of my yearly salary towards that. I make in the mid to upper five figures so I’m not poor but I’m not rich. As of right now having the Mark VII is only costing me about $300 a year in insurance. Does it make sense for a late 20 something to have two fun cars or should I ditch the Mark VII and just keep the Thunderbird?

Sajeev answers:

Before I go completely bonkers over a Fox Body question, a question back: do you have adequate parking for everyone’s cars???

Thunderjet writes:

The parking situation is good with the extra fox. The Thunderbird and my fiance’s Mustang reside in the garage while the Focus sits in the driveway. I usually keep the Mark in the driveway as well but if weather is bad my parents have let me drop it off at their house. They have space in their garage they are not using.

I should also note that I purchased the AOD floor shifter from your 1988 Cougar XR-7 on foxtbirdcougarforums several years ago. I think you sold it to me for ten bucks. I still have it if I ever get the desire to remove the column shifter from my Thunderbird. And yes the graphic EQ in my Thunderbird still works. It’s wired through a JVC head unit and the factory amp.

Sajeev answers:

Since normal people won’t understand this graphic EQ hack, a photo from my Cougar to clarify:

Not only is the Fox one of the most customizable vehicles on the planet, the truly insane among us convert the Ford EQ’s wiring into RCA connections; making it work with any aftermarket stereo. And it sounds kinda great, too!

What a small world it is: you knew me back when I was a Fox UBB forum fiend!  Times change, but multiple housebound projects are doable for these reasons:

  1. Your intelligent and enviable debt-to-equity ratio.
  2. Ownership of a new vehicle as a daily driver.
  3. Enough space at your residence for cars, without pissing off your significant other.
  4. Intimate knowledge of the vehicles in question, with a great track record for success.
  5. Readily available parts and low-cost of ownership inherent in Fox Body (resto?) modification.
  6. A strong internet community to help you when needed. And a sympathetic resto-mod Cougar owning schmuck on TTAC too, if that helps.

You are one lucky duck. How do I know? This is kinda how I co-exist with my old Fords. BAM SON!

A final note: since you showed me yours, here’s mine. Getting rid of my shifter opened up room in the Cougar for a manual gearbox. Thanks for that. And best of luck with the LSC, I am jealous.

photo

I really, really want an cherry 88-89 LSC, just not with Porno Red leather. One of these Foxes is enough.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1982-ford-thunderbird-town-landau/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1982-ford-thunderbird-town-landau/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=615545 Ford 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 […]

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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.

01- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13- 450px - 1982 Ford Thunderbird Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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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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New or Used: I know you. You are me. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/new-or-used-i-know-you-you-are-me/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/new-or-used-i-know-you-you-are-me/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 18:36:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=401044   TTAC commentator siggy writes: Hello Sajeev and Steve, I’m a big fan of TTAC’s Piston Slap column and I hope you can help me with a good recommendation. Currently, I have one car, a 1984 Mustang SVO.  It has about 75k miles, and I’ve given it numerous upgrades.  I love it, but it doesn’t […]

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Daily driver?

 

TTAC commentator siggy writes:

Hello Sajeev and Steve,

I’m a big fan of TTAC’s Piston Slap column and I hope you can help me with a good recommendation. Currently, I have one car, a 1984 Mustang SVO.  It has about 75k miles, and I’ve given it numerous upgrades.  I love it, but it doesn’t have a heater or A/C, and the mileage is crap.  On long freeway drives, I can get up to 25mpg, but the reality is my commute to work is 10 miles, and it’s all stop and go, sometimes bumper-to-bumper traffic.  So I end up with about 15mpg.  But, like I said, I love the car, so I will not be getting rid of it in the foreseeable future.

With gas at almost $4, and the way the SVO chugs the premium juice, I think it’s time to get a proper commuter.  Not having A/C in the summer is a serious problem here in Orange County, so with spring and summer around the corner, I need to act on this now.  Time for a beater!

Here’s a breakdown of requirements:

  1. I can only spend a max of about $2500.
  2. Smaller is better.  Ideally, something that can return at least 25 MPG City.  (30+ MPG highway).  Probably FWD.
  3. Easy to work on and easy to find parts for.  One thing I like about my Fox Mustang is how easy it is to work on, with its huge engine bay and tiny 4 cyl. Engine.
  4. I’d prefer a manual.  This is not a dealbreaker though.  The main reason I prefer a manual is because they are way more reliable.  My old ’96 T-bird’s auto started to slip at around 150k miles, and my girlfriend’s ’02 Accord Auto, with 120k miles, slips worse than my Mustang’s tires in the rain.  The added MPG and fun factor of a manual is nice, too.
  5. Because of #3, only American and Japanese brands.
  6. Not really a big deal, but R134 A/C and OBDII would be a plus.

Let me know what you think.  I look forward to hearing back and/or seeing my name up on TTAC.

Sajeev answers:

SVO? SVO! You mean I get to talk Fox Bodies for a moment?  Just kidding…

You have an SVO Mustang and are familiar with MN-12 body Thunderbirds.  That combination is disturbingly close to my restomod(?) Fox Mercury Cougar and daily driver Lincoln Mark VIII.  The Fox and MN-12 love within you is strong: you should embrace that.  Be one with your love, let the passion fly like the turbocharged SVO wind, soaring on the wings of a thunderous Thunderbird!

You might be nuts to not get another MN-12 Tbird. Get a V6 if you want mileage improvements at part throttle, head gasket condition be damned.  $1500 gets a disturbingly nice MN-12, they are really that terrible on the used car market.  And they are a rather brilliant (if flawed) platform even in stock form. I personally think the MN-12 deserved a second chance, a significant re-think: it coulda replaced both the Panther and spared us the disappointment of the Five Hundred, Flex, Taurus, Montego, Freestyle, etc.

Of course I am only partially kidding…

You need an older, 2.3 or 2.5L Ranger with a stick: 25mpg, fun, cheap and you already know the motor from your SVO, inside and out.  Find one in that price range with some service records, new parts and an honest private seller on craigslist. I know you. You are me.  And a Ranger is precisely what I’d want if I were in your shoes.

Steve answers:

I would not fall head over heels over any particular car.

At the price range you are looking at, it will be the prior owners who will determine the long-term reliability of your ride. It also will be pretty damn hard to find a good one… for now.

My advice is to try to seek anything that has a well-known bulletproof drivetrain. The Ford platforms Sajeev mentions tend to be that way. But so are a long slew of various domestic and foreign models.

If you do orientate over a given type of car then Ebay would be a good bet. Go to the ‘completed items’ section and see how much things are selling for these days. If the seller has 100% positive Ebay feedback (like yours truly) then the odds will definitely be with you.

Research the histories, get it inspected no matter what, and good luck.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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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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Curbside Classic Mercury Memorial Week Finale: The Fat Cats – 1971, 1974 And 1977 Cougar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-mercury-memorial-week-finale-the-fat-cats-1971-1974-and-1977-cougar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-mercury-memorial-week-finale-the-fat-cats-1971-1974-and-1977-cougar/#comments Sat, 04 Dec 2010 16:49:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375685 The Cougar first arrived in 1967 as something unique and distinct: a handsome, lithe sporty coupe with a distinct hint of luxury and a dash of continental flavor. Although the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix is often credited with creating the mid-size/mid-price personal-luxury coupe coup, the first Cougar certainly predicted the trend. What wasn’t so predictable […]

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The Cougar first arrived in 1967 as something unique and distinct: a handsome, lithe sporty coupe with a distinct hint of luxury and a dash of continental flavor. Although the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix is often credited with creating the mid-size/mid-price personal-luxury coupe coup, the first Cougar certainly predicted the trend.

What wasn’t so predictable is how quickly the Cougar would slather on the pounds (tons?), and morph into just another bland also-ran competitor in that rapidly crowding field. And if that weren’t bad enough, the once exclusive Cougar name was sullied by four door sedans and even a station wagon. The seventies were not kind to the Cougar, and (surprise) we’re not going to be very kind to it.

The Cougar (de)evolved rapidly in the decade after its arrival, with a total of five distinct generations in that time period. We covered the ’67-’68 and had a brief look at the already plumper ’69-’70 in our recent CC. They both followed the Mustang’s trajectory, largely sharing its platform and body shell, with a couple of extra inches of wheelbase, but with highly differentiated styling. And just like the 1971 Mustang went overboard in size and girth for a so-called pony car, so did the Cougar.

This was during Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen’s brief tour of duty at the helm of Ford, and his efforts to bring Pontiac noses and other GM-esque design elements are all-too obvious. Four years after the ’67′s distinctive styling and very successful start, the 1971 Cougar was totally unrecognizable as its successor. What a way to destroy equity in a successful and unique identity.

It wasn’t just that it looked nothing like its memorable predecessors; it now also shared way too much family-arity with the Mustang. Mercury was reverting back to Ford form.

Admittedly, this car’s interior has seen better days, but even in its prime, there wasn’t a whiff of Jaguar here. Go back and compare it to the ’67-’68 interior. What a come-down; this might as well be a Pinto Bobcat. Not surprisingly, sales were also a huge come-down; for these ’71-’73 Cougars they were off a whopping 66% from the original. As was performance, fuel efficiency, handling, taste, and all-round desirability. The only thing that was up was weight (500+ lbs), but that was just an appetizer of things to come.

two cats: normal and morbidly obese

For 1974, the Cougar stopped pretending to be a more exclusive variant of a pony car, and joined the burgeoning mega-mid-sized personal luxury coupe market. This was the hot category in the seventies, led by the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Cutlass Supreme and a host of hangers-on. Ford, which had been so successful in creating niche vehicles in the late fifties (T-Bird) and the sixties (Mustang), was caught flat-footed with this monster trend, but jumped in late in 1974 with their delightfully refreshing and highly original Gran Torino Elite. Its great innovation and claim to fame was two “opera windows” per side. It must have been fun to be an automotive designer in Detroit during the seventies.

The Cougar was invited to slip into an Elite suit in 1974 too, but it was a mighty heavy one.  Now the Cougar weighed some 50% more than it did in 1967, well over two tons. And don’t even ask about performance. Somehow, Ford managed to eke less power out of its engines during the seventies than anyone else: the 400 CID (6.6 L) V8 managed 158 hp; the big block 460 (7.5 L) squeezed out all of 216 hp. The bad old days. And no; torque isn’t a direct substitute for horsepower.

But Lo! Sales began to recover after the low point of  ’71 – ’73. Folks took a shine to cars like this fine 1974 XcRement 7, which this owner can’t bear to have the garbage men haul off with the cans, despite how happy it would make the neighbors (he used to have a minor junk yard of vintage Ford iron, but this one survived the cull).

Now we reach 1977-1979, the pinnacle of Cougar size and taste. OK, I know some of you have a soft spot for these lovely cars, and what can I say, other than you’re obviously delusional devoted. Just kidding; aren’t these just ah…ah…wonderful. I just don’t feel like hurting anybody’s feelings today; I do that way too often. Well, it’s good to know someone loves these, because otherwise I wouldn’t have run into this remarkably well kept example. Curiously enough, I found it the same beautiful summer day as I found its very similar red stablemate, the Thunderbird (lower picture).

The family genes are in full display here, eh? The T-Bird was given that precious little slanted opera window, but other than that, I bet it would be mighty easy to swap fenders, doors, bumpers and almost everything else except that opera window on these kissing cousins.

From the very distinctive ’67 Cougar’s electric-razor face, we now gaze on the universal seventies’ Ford face, practically interchangeable with everything from the compact Granada to the mighty Continental. It might have been hard to tell what model was coming down the road, but you just knew it was a Ford. Brilliant!

Now the Cougar suffered much further indignities than just being a badge-engineered clone of a badge-engineered clone of a copy of a GM coupe. Now, the once proud and exclusive Cougar name now could also be had on a four door sedan, and…

Yes! A Cougar station wagon! It’s exactly what the world was holding its breath for. Or was it after they saw it? More likely, since the wagon went over like a hearse; only 4,951 buyers still had enough breath left to actually buy one. It was a one-year wonder, and probably highly collectible by now. I don’t expect to find one.

Mercury’s big marketing theme in the seventies was to more closely ally itself with the Lincoln and Continental. As a result, the Cougar now even sprouted a Conti-inspired butt bulge. Yes, the Cougar was all-too obviously now trying to be a budget-priced Mark IV than an original American take on a Jag. Why try harder?

Ok, even if the exterior styling is very much a question of (questionable) taste, at least the dash and interior were getting relatively better. Compare it to the ’71 above and we have genuine progress! And some commentators thought I was being too harsh on the dreadful Marauder X-100 dash, but look at how much better this is than that too! I didn’t say inspired, just not as bad. The mystery here is why one seat is cloth and the other leather or vinyl. A Monday car, or?

All right, we’ve been harsh enough on this poor big fat dull dumb Cougar. It looks so lovely sitting here on a summer’s evening. What a period piece. But then I just noticed that the very next car I shot on this glowing sunset was our CC logomobile. Compared to the true classic American coupes, this Cougar will always be relegated to a warm-up act, no matter how golden the sunshine. Adios, Mercury! We miss you already.

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