Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Thunderbird Town Landau

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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 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.

Heritage split bench seats in Midnight Blue!

These 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.

Detroit stuck with the “wire wheel” hubcap concept well into the 1990s, but the middle 1980s were the pinnacle of the style.

The Town Landau emblems are gone, but the landau roof remains.

The 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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Oct 15, 2013

    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.

  • Graham64 Graham64 on Aug 20, 2020

    "The Town Landau emblems are gone, but the landau roof remains." Not for much longer though :-)

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.