Ford Thunderbird (ninth generation)

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Ninth generation Ford Thunderbird
Ford Thunderbird -- 08-12-2010.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1982–1988
Model years1983-1988
AssemblyLorain, Ohio
Wixom, Michigan
Hapeville, Georgia
DesignerJack Telnack (1980)
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
LayoutFR layout
PlatformFord Fox platform
RelatedMercury Cougar
Lincoln Continental Mark VII
Powertrain
Engine2.3 L Lima I4 (turbo)
3.8 L Essex V6
5.0 L Windsor V8
Transmission3-speed C3 automatic
4-speed A4LD automatic
4-speed C5 automatic
4-speed AOD automatic
Borg-Warner 5-speed T-5 manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase104.2 in (2,647 mm) [1]
Length
  • 1983-1986: 197.6 in (5,019 mm) [1]
  • 1987-1988: 202.1 in (5,133 mm)
Width71.1 in (1,806 mm)[1]
Height
  • 1983-1986: 53.2 in (1,351 mm)[1]
  • 1987-1988: 53.4 in (1,356 mm)
Chronology
PredecessorFord Thunderbird (eighth generation)
SuccessorFord Thunderbird (tenth generation)
 
  (Redirected from Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe)
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Ninth generation Ford Thunderbird
Ford Thunderbird -- 08-12-2010.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
Production1982–1988
Model years1983-1988
AssemblyLorain, Ohio
Wixom, Michigan
Hapeville, Georgia
DesignerJack Telnack (1980)
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
LayoutFR layout
PlatformFord Fox platform
RelatedMercury Cougar
Lincoln Continental Mark VII
Powertrain
Engine2.3 L Lima I4 (turbo)
3.8 L Essex V6
5.0 L Windsor V8
Transmission3-speed C3 automatic
4-speed A4LD automatic
4-speed C5 automatic
4-speed AOD automatic
Borg-Warner 5-speed T-5 manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase104.2 in (2,647 mm) [1]
Length
  • 1983-1986: 197.6 in (5,019 mm) [1]
  • 1987-1988: 202.1 in (5,133 mm)
Width71.1 in (1,806 mm)[1]
Height
  • 1983-1986: 53.2 in (1,351 mm)[1]
  • 1987-1988: 53.4 in (1,356 mm)
Chronology
PredecessorFord Thunderbird (eighth generation)
SuccessorFord Thunderbird (tenth generation)
Main article: Ford Thunderbird

The ninth generation of the Ford Thunderbird is a personal luxury coupe built by Ford Motor Company for the 1983 to the 1988 model years. While nominally shorter and lighter than its predecessor, the radical change sought from the previous model was not in overall size but in exterior styling and handling. As opposed to the traditional straight-edged styling carried from the 1970s, the 1983 Thunderbird was an aerodynamic design (drag coefficent of 0.35) that would serve as a preview for vehicles such as the Ford Mustang SVO, Ford Tempo, Ford Aerostar, and Ford Taurus.

Although bearing little resemblance to the 1980-1982 Thunderbird, this generation also was derived from the Ford Fox platform and shared the Mercury Cougar as its counterpart. In 1984, the Thunderbird and Cougar were joined by the Lincoln Continental Mark VII, which was produced until 1992.

Development[edit]

Following the introduction of the 1980 Thunderbird, sales of the nameplate sharply decreased in comparison to its 1977-1979 predecessor, despite it being a more fuel-efficient vehicle. As the 1970s turned into the 1980s, personal luxury cars gradually became more sporting in image, with vehicles as the BMW 6-Series and Mercedes-Benz SL increasing in popularity. In 1980, Ford President Donald Petersen asked Ford Vice President of Design Jack Telnack of the 1980 Thunderbird: "is this what you would want in your driveway?". The negative response by Telnack prompted the company to request the Thunderbird be restyled completely.

To give the car a more contemporary image, the body was completely redesigned from the ground up. Aside from the egg-crate grille and the Thunderbird emblem (which were both significantly updated), no styling cues were carried over. As a necessity to control development costs, the 1983 Thunderbird was forced to retain its Fox-platform chassis. In the style of the Ford Probe concept cars and the 1982 Ford Sierra, the Thunderbird was designed for aerodynamic efficiency alongside its looks, with many of its body panels having rounded edges and its doors wrapping into the roof. In extreme contrast to its predecessors of late 1970s, the 1983 Thunderbird was designed to minimize the use of chrome trim; some trim levels limited it exclusively to the wheels.

Design History[edit]

1983[edit]

1983–1986 Ford Thunderbird

The 1983 T-Bird came in base, Heritage, and Turbo Coupe models. Both the base and the Heritage came standard with a 3.8 L (232 cu in) Essex V6 that produced 110 horsepower (82 kW) mated to a 3 speed automatic. A 4.9 L (302 cu in) Windsor 5.0 V8 with 140 horsepower (100 kW) was available with the former two models as well. The Turbo Coupe, the top-of-the-line model was special for several reasons. It used a turbocharged 4-cylinder 2.3 L (140 cu in) engine with Ford's EEC-IV electronic engine control system. Unlike the other models, the Turbo Coupe came with a standard 5-speed manual transmission. Other improvements included a limited-slip differential (called "Traction-Lok"), larger tires and wheels, and a sportier interior complete with analog gauges.

1984[edit]

Rear view of 1985-1986 model

For the 1984 Thunderbird few changes were made. The Turbo Coupe gained a 3-speed automatic transmission as an option. A "FILA" model was available, which featured unique paint and wheel choices, as well as badging to provide the car a more European feel.

1985[edit]

By 1985, the Turbo Coupe gained power to 155 horsepower (116 kW), and all models received a new interior. A 30th Anniversary Edition model was offered, that featured unique blue paint and stripes, and came very well loaded with options. It was loosely based on the Elan model and most models came with the V8.

1986[edit]

Minor changes were made in 1986, including a center high mount stop lamp, and the deletion of the FILA edition. In 1986 Ford began work on the "MN12" project which would serve as the basis for an all-new Thunderbird generation. Supposed to compete against the BMW 6-Series, Ford believed that the new Thunderbird would be too big a change for the public and still wanted to capitalize on the success that the existing generation of Thunderbirds had brought.

1987[edit]

1987 Ford Thunderbird TurboCoupe

So for 1987, the body shell and interior were altered for improved aerodynamic performance. Replacing the Elan were new LX and Sport models. The latter came with the V8 while the LX came with the V6. The Turbo Coupe earned the honor of being the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1987. The 2.3 L turbo-4 now included the air-to-air intercooler that was found in the Ford Mustang SVO and boosted power up to 190 horsepower (140 kW) for the 5-speed manual transmission; its top speed was 143 mph (230 km/h). New for the Turbo Coupe was a 4-speed automatic, with which the engine was rated at 150 horsepower (110 kW). The automatic had detuned turbo boost of 9.5 psi (65 kPa or 0.65 bar) instead of 10 to 15 psi (70 to 100 kPa or 0.7 to 1 bar). Ford's rationale for that was "transmission durability" Otherwise, the Turbo Coupe also came with anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, Automatic Ride Control, and 16-inch 225/60VR performance tires. On the appearance side, the Turbo Coupe received a performance hood with operational dual hood scoops with air ducts to the intercooler. The Turbo Coupe also featured a performance-styled front valance with fog lights and special trim with "Turbo Coupe" badges on the doors, as well as "Snowflake" 16 inch alloy wheels.

1988[edit]

1987-1988 Thunderbird LX

1988, the final year for the Turbo Coupe, saw only a minor change. The 5-speed manual transmission now allowed the full 17 psi of boost in all forward gears (as opposed to excluding the first two gears). The Turbo Coupe was replaced in 1989 by the Super Coupe which had a 3.8 L supercharged V6 engine—a radical departure from the old turbo-4.

Production Totals[2][edit]

YearProduction
1983121,999
1984170,551
1985151,852
1986165,965
1987128,135
1988147,243
Total885,745

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Aero-Bird Thunderbird FAQ". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Tast, Alan H. and David Newhardt. THUNDERBIRD FIFTY YEARS. Motorbooks. October 15, 2004.