Ford Thunderbird (ninth generation)
|Ninth generation Ford Thunderbird|
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe|
|Platform||Ford Fox platform|
Lincoln Continental Mark VII
|Engine||2.3 L Lima I4 (turbo)
3.8 L Essex V6
5.0 L Windsor V8
|Wheelbase||104.2 in (2,647 mm)|
|Length||202.1 in (5,133 mm)|
|Width||71.1 in (1,806 mm)|
|Height||53.4 in (1,356 mm)|
|Predecessor||Ford Thunderbird (eighth generation)|
|Successor||Ford Thunderbird (tenth generation)|
1983 saw a much improved and aerodynamic car and the launch of the Turbo Coupe, and a much sportier image. Reputedly, in 1980 following a change in leadership, the new chief designer Jack Telnack was asked by executive Don Petersen "is this what you would want in your driveway?" Telnack's negative response prompted a redesign of the Thunderbird with the aero style that subsequently flowed on through the Taurus, Sierra and various Lincolns. In 1987, the Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was redesigned and came with such notable features as automatic ride control, anti-lock brakes, and the intercooled turbocharged engine similar to that of the Ford Mustang SVO. All this resulted in a personal luxury car that produced 190 horsepower (140 kW) from a 2.3 L 4-cylinder engine and had a 143 mph (230 km/h) top speed.
The 1983 Ford Thunderbird was built on the same "Fox platform" as many other Ford products including the 1980-82 Thunderbird and the Ford Mustang. Unlike the previous generation T-Bird, the new-for-1983 model was redesigned with a more aerodynamic look. The drag coefficient of this body style was a mere 0.35. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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, 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.
- Tast, Alan H. and David Newhardt. THUNDERBIRD FIFTY YEARS. Motorbooks. October 15, 2004.
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