Rare Rides: A Like-new Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe From 1988

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Check out these two words: Turbo Coupe. They roll off the tongue nicely, and all car enthusiasts should know exactly they mean — or used to. In 2017, they usually mean someone with a mullet is nearby, driving a beat-to-hell Thunderbird with peeling logos and ruined paint. Likely while listening to Whitesnake.

Our example today is what the term Turbo Coupe used to mean. It is perfect, painted a gleaming black, and on the floor there’s a five-speed manual. Here I go again…

From 1983 through the 1988 model year, you could go down to your Ford Dealership and check out the top-trim Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Unlike the six- or eight-cylinder base models, the Turbo Coupe featured a 2.3-liter inline-four and came standard with a manual transmission and limited-slip differential. Ford generously offered automatic versions, but not until 1984. The model variant underwent a name change for 1989, when the new, revised version with supercharged 3.8-liter V6 became the Super Coupe.

Now, on its own, an old Turbo Coupe wouldn’t really qualify as a Rare Ride; they just made too many of them. But this example stands alone as the cleanest your author has ever seen. The black paint choice and manual transmission easily push it over the Rare Rides qualifying barrier.

The aforementioned black paint shines like new, with nary a blemish.

Not a single detail on the vehicle is worn or incorrect. And like most Turbo Coupes, this one’s well-equipped.

Though it has 50,000 miles on the odometer, you’d never know it. Someone has taken excellent care of this Thunderbird.

Just look at those seats!

And another interesting feature here: a switch to let the car know you’ve selected regular or premium fuel, whichever you prefer.

Currently listed on Craigslist in Detroit, the owner is asking $15,200. That seems a reasonable enough price, especially when considering the likelihood of finding another in remotely similar condition.

[Images: Craigslist]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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3 of 62 comments
  • Geo Geo on Jun 29, 2017

    Truly beautiful cars. I've wondered why Ford didn't make the 89 T-Bird into the next-gen Mustang. I know it was more expensive to build, but the higher volumes may have helped.

    • JimZ JimZ on Jun 29, 2017

      The MN12 cars were incredible porkers.

  • Roger Roger on Feb 27, 2023

    804 339 6326 is car for sale call me when possible tks

  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.
  • El scotto Chip it, NOS it, Wrap it, go buy hipster jeans.
  • El scotto Bah to the lot of you! Now 8500$ is way too much; 5000$ would be much more reasonable. You see, every once in a while GM does something right. The two Saturns I owned were slow, I mean bog slow, poorly maintained VW bug slow. Then some GM engineers ran some sort of tippy-top secret project and put a supercharger on a 4-cylinder. Will this redline beat a Porsche? Please. Would this be worth thrashing on your daily commute? Of course. Imagine racing the GTI guys for lattes or IPAs. Those kind roll that way.