12K Original Miles: 1988 Ford Thunderbird

While I normally reserve my excitement for Thunderbirds of this vintage for Super Coupe examples, this one with only 12,400 original miles is tough to ignore. Equipped with the 5.0L V8 and looking like it just rolled out of the showroom, I can’t recall seeing one this nice that wasn’t an SC in years. Find it here on craigslist with an $8,500 asking price that seems like a relative bargain. 

Obviously, this isn’t the highest spec example you could get, but with a V8 paired to an automatic and near-new condition, this Thunderbird will treat you nicely for years to come. I’d argue it may even appreciate a bit if the miles are kept low. The interior shows no major blemishes, and I have to believe this was a grandma-owned and driven car.

The taillights were one of the best-looking designs ever made, and I can’t get over how much I like this color with the Thunderbird’s trademark smoked rear lenses. The topaz / gold / brown color is an unusual find when most Thunderbirds were seemingly optioned in white, red, or black. The factory alloys are a surprisingly good look on a non-SC car, too.

The reliable 5.0 V8 has been religiously maintained, according to the seller, and that adherence to factory maintenance specifications extended to the suspension, transmission, and fuel system. The Thunderbird is optioned with upgraded factory audio and the period-cool digital dash. As the adage goes, find a better one – and buy it.

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  1. Mark

    Beautiful, has a mean looking stance for some reason I see. I like it.

    • AndyinMA

      Agree completely

    • JimmyinTEXAS

      It is a great looking car. I think the great stance is because it is stock. It hasn’t been hacked up and dropped “in the weeds” with 22-inch wheels.
      Did I mention it is a great looking car? If I were in the market for a lite project This would be very high on the short list.

  2. Dcowan

    My first car was an ‘88 cougar 5.0. Loves that car until someone pulled out in front of me. Black on grey. Spoiler and moonroof. I was a very happy 17 year old until that fateful day. Still miss that car.

  3. Eric S.

    Would rather have a 5.0 than a Turbo or Super Coupe. Not as sure about the digital dash. Enjoyed watching these (Cougars actually) dominate their class in IMSA in 1988 and 1989.

  4. Rx7turboII

    Very nice car but I don’t think the SC came in this body style, it was just called the turbo coupe if you wanted more power. The 5.0 was a hot engine! I love the stance.
    this car has!

    • Tim Forshner

      You are correct. The fox platform T-bird was the 2.3 litre turbo charged 4 cyl. The last year for the fox birds was 1988. The Super Coup was a 3.8 litre supercharged v-6 available in the mn-12 platform. The MN-12 debuted in 1989. The SC was available in 1989, and I also know they didnt have the 8 cyl for 1989. At least up here in the land of snow known as Canada they didn’t.

  5. Doug nelson

    I had a new 88 Turbo Coupe, put 165,000 miles on it. Never touched anything other than brakes at 110k. Great car.

  6. Jeff

    Great looking ‘Bird, and a nice alternative to a period Mustang. I preferred the Turbo Coupe’s grille-less hood, but this is a sharp car. It’d make a great daily driver.

  7. Mark D Smith

    Also luv the car and thinking that it would look mighty nice parked inside my garage. I know that I can’t have every car on here that I see, but this would probably be my pick of the week. Probably…

    Off to buy some powerball tickets…

  8. PatrickM

    I had a 1986 Mercury Cougar with a 3.8L V6 and 2BBL. Was a great car. When I left Wyoming to come out here (Maryland), I gave it to one of my daughters. I sure miss that car.

  9. David Miraglia

    Rented out a 1989 T bird from Hertz, back in the late 1980’s. It had a six cylinder.
    But it was still a smooth performer.

  10. glenn woodley

    love this car i had the cougar version and i have to say it was my favorite car out of all ive owned

  11. Miguel

    I have a couple of questions about this car.

    The wheels are not original to this car. Why the change on a 12,000 car.

    The stance seems really high to me. It doesn’t look factory at all. What happened.

    The license plate is from the mid 1989 model year.

    Was this car a left over 1988 model they couldn’t sell when the new body style came out? I am very familiar with that dealership where it was sold new.

    • CanuckCarGuy

      The front, driver’s corner used to sag on these… maybe it’s on fresh coils to level it up, especially after do many years of sitting.

  12. CanuckCarGuy

    These are hugely underappreciated cars IMHO, although I prefer the Turbocoupe in the ’87 and ’88 body lines, due to their solid and body coloured ‘beak’ nose. I had an ’87 Turbocoupe 5 speed, and they are an incredible car to drive. The 5.0 would no doubt be a great runner in these, but the turbo L4 can out gun the V8 with far less money invested under the hood.

  13. Troy s

    I have always liked these ’80’s t-birds, especially the hot V-8 powered ones. I just never got into turbocharged engines for some reason back then or now for that matter.
    Those wheels and tires give the car a taller appearance, bold appearance really, and I can’t believe how well the car has been kept up. Nice.

  14. KawiVulc

    That is a great color… believe I remember seeing it on a few Tempos but never on a T-Bird. This one would make a really nice Sunday go ta meetin’ car.

  15. David Rhodes

    fine example but I can’t see it getting the asking price

  16. SWells679

    That’s a great looking car, as others have said. When I saw this pic, it hit me…I don’t see ANY T-birds of this era anymore. Sure, plenty of Mustangs, but none of these.

  17. scotty sr.

    ford was very creative on the end run of production this 88 was just that,instead of base level parts they would use up the better alloy wheels than the steelies that could be used on the new model without differentiation.

  18. scotty sr.

    No one noticed that it had the dual exhaust from the factory, I would buy this one right now but I have three of them currently!

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