BF Exclusive: 1985 Ford Thunderbird Turbo

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

Ford’s Fox platform really was versatile. They used it as the base for everything from luxury 4 door sedans to the sporty Mustang. Somewhere between those two extremes was the Thunderbird. It was more comfortable than a Mustang, but more sporting than a sedan. While the 5.0 V8 was offered in the T-Bird in ’85, the 2.3 liter turbo inline 4 was the one to get. This BF Exclusive is the top trim level T-Bird with the turbo and a 5-speed, which should make it fun and comfortable. The seller, James L has owned it since new, but just recently pulled it out of his garage for a complete service and has it running and driving again! You can email him here for more details.

From James L – 1985 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with the 2.3l and a 5-speed. It’s one owner from brand new. Never been in an accident. The body is straight with no rust or rot. Currently has 70,000 original miles.

Features A/C, fog lights, power windows, power locks, power seat, power antenna for radio and many more power options. It also has keyless pad entry with kill starter, code key door.

Just installed a brand new head gasket, new spark plugs, wires, coil, new rotor and brakes. It’s been in my garage for the past 30 years. The motor runs great and 5 speed is smooth. Asking $5,000. Cell is 413 364-0044.

This T-Bird isn’t in perfect shape, but the body does look straight and if it really is rust free, it could be worth taking a closer look at. I know many of us would want the V8, but the turbo has a ton of potential and actually produced more horsepower in stock form. When it was new, it was rated at 155 horses and with the right upgrades, could produce 200+ horsepower. If you can live with the oxidized and flaking clear coat, this could be a fun driver! What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Moe G

    Now this I like!

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  2. boxdin

    These are nice cars and any Tbird w a manual is rare, but I like the next gen w the IRS.

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  3. flmikey

    …he took care of the only real problem these cars had…the head gasket…love these cars, not as fast as a 5.0, but much more fun!

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  4. Derek F

    These may not have been as quick as the 5.0 cars when stock, but a few simple mods will amaze, and the Ford Turbo 2.3 crowd is small but devout. And tons of aftermarket parts to fix the handling shortcomings.

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  5. joeinthousandoaks

    A friend of mine had one new. I was shocked at how fast it was at the time. I’m sure the 5 speed helped.

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  6. Billy

    Could you get a 5-speed with the V8?

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    • David H.

      Not at the time. People used to be surprised that it was possible to get any T-bird with a 5-speed.

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  7. milotus

    I know where there’s an ’85 TBird,that might be for sale.
    1 owner,garage kept,V6,automatic,in metallic Red.I knew the
    lady who bought it new,but has passed on,& her Daughter is
    thinking of selling it.It has really low milage,but needs a heater core.
    What do you think it’s worth?

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  8. Paul

    Would anyone like to fill us in on where the car is located by chance?

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    • milotus

      The turbo one is located in Mass.,
      according to the area code.

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  9. Rustytech

    I like this t-bird body style. I like it with the V8, I worked on a lot of 2.3l and they were harsh, rough, and noisy. Not traits one looked for in what was billed as a personal luxury car. One sold at Mecum’s auction last week, ( Bill Elliot edition ) it was in much better condition and sold for not much more than the asking price here ( $8500 ) so this is no bargain. I see this as a $3000 car tops.

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    • David H.

      The 2.3 was certainly rough, but it did settle down on the highway and was a good cruiser. I think Ford spent some time eliminating sympathetic vibrations, so it wasn’t bad until you revved past 3500 or so, when the natural NVH pushed past all the sound insulation and became very evident. Balance shafts would have been nice, but I think Ford was spending their money on other projects.

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  10. David H.

    My dad had one just like it, except silver with the red interior. I learned to drive manual transmission on it. It had a lot of character — the engine was basically dead until 2800 rpm, and then bam! — a big whoosh from the turbo, a shove in the back, and all kinds of noise, vibration and harshness. Teenage me loved it.

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  11. Joe

    $1000 tops. Color combination and engine not desireable. No appreciation potential. When this early, more primitive turbo dies—you’ll be walking and crying. Seller needs to face reality and take whatever cash comes up. Many better choices out there at the $3 to $5000 level.

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  12. Gagagarage

    Drove an ’84 Turbo T-Bird for a few days after the dealership sold my demo. The Bird was the first car I ever got to 100 MPH. Glorious!

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  13. Zaphod

    If it’s in Mass. It isn’t rust free. Nice car for a lot less money. I agree on the $1-3k range.

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  14. edh

    Why have a boosted 4 cylinder primed to blow at any second when you could easily have a V8 lumping along with more horsepower?

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  15. M/K

    Have y’all ever seen those Baja bugs with the pinto 2300 kits? Well now this motor will go right there also. Hmmm, a little plumbing and wiring and viola a bad ass little machine. Oh and throw a 363 stoked in the bird and have fun with that also.

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  16. Jeff

    My cousin had an ’84 when I came back from the army. He was 16 at the time & took me for many a ride in it….jarrin’ it every chance he got! Most memorable trip was to see Dire Straights, Brothers in Arms @ the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville.

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  17. Mike

    I agree with everyone that said anything nice could be found cheaper. I bought a 88 cougar LS 5.0L car with 32kmi for $1300. It needs paint but is essentially rust free, I’m making it a XR7 clone. Hope the picture downloads

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  18. PRA4SNW

    I had the German-built Merkur XR4Ti (we called it the Exrati) that had the same engine, not sure if it had the same exact tranny, though. Back at that time, it was certainly an interesting car to drive, with a more than decent performing engine.

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    • Mike Williams

      the XR4TI didn’t come with the T5, but did have IRS in the back.

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  19. RichS

    My F-I-L has an ’86 Turbo coupe he’s owned since new. It does have probably 200k on it at this point but about 15 years ago it got a drivetrain from an intercooled ’88 swapped in. It’s been languishing inside his garage for several years and he’s recently told me he wants to sell it. I’d love to pick it up but I have nowhere to put it. I really ought to have him list it here.

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  20. Mike Williams

    I loved my ’85 TurboCoupe and it was the only 5 speed at the time that offered cruise control on a stick.

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  21. Guggie 13

    Friends wife had one of these what a Blast to drive !

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  22. Mercuryman

    Another great 80’s Ford. Too many comments on putting a V8 in it. Yes, the 2.3 isn’t smooth but it is also very strong and can make silly power. The car was designed and set up for that engine. For its time it was one of the best handling cars in its class. Ford tried hard to make it a world class car and in most respects, they succeed. Because it’s a fox body there is a huge amount of aftermarket support for it. This could be a fantastic daily driver with a little TLC. And paint. As for the price, while it may never become a true collector car , you will enjoy driving a now rare performance coupe. And that I believe is worth the money.

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