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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a like new ford thunderbird turbo coupe from 1988

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]

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  • 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

  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
  • Mike Beranek Funny story about the '80 T-bird. My old man's Dart Sport had given up the ghost so he was car-shopping. He & I dropped my mom at a store and then went to the Ford dealer, where we test-drove the new T-Bird (with digital dash!)So we pull up to the store to pick mom up. She walks out and dad says "We just bought it.". Mom stares at the Mulroney- almost 13 grand- and just about fell over.Dad had not in fact bought the T-Bird, instead he got a Cordoba for only 9 grand.