Live Auctions

$4,500: 1983 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

Josh showed us a Barn Finds Exclusive T-Bird a month ago and here’s another one. This 1983 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe is on Craigslist with an asking price of $4,500. This good looking car is located in equally good looking Cincinnati, Ohio.

It’s a bit hard to see the body condition with the photos having been taken in this dappled sun/shadow area, and the only verbal report from the seller is that it’s in “very good condition”. It sure looks like it is. Ford made these ninth-generation Thunderbirds from 1983 to 1988 and they were quite a departure from the previous cars. The Turbo Coupe was the top model for the Thunderbird after the Base and Heritage models. There is no question that the Turbo Coupe is the one to have and the one that will continue to appreciate in the marketplace.

Yes! This car has a 5-speed manual transmission! That’s the transmission that you want in a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Of course, after all of that hype, the 5-speed was standard and in fact an automatic wasn’t available until 1984, but I’m still excited to see a manual transmission in a car like this, or in any car. This was Ford’s cross between a muscle car and a luxury car and I think they pulled it off very well. $4,500 is sounding better now, isn’t it? The interior looks absolutely perfect on this car, I don’t see a flaw in it, front or back. But, no power windows in a top-trim T-Bird? That’s strange when now some motorcycles even have power-adjustable windshields.

Bonus: there’s even an engine photo included! I may have to run out and buy a Powerball ticket today, I think my luck is changing. It seems like more often than not lately there aren’t engine photos or some other ads are missing a major photo opp. This is Ford’s 2.3L, 140 cubic-inch inline-four with a whopping 145 hp thanks to the turbo. What do you think about this Turbo Coupe? It sure is nice, is it $4,500 nice?


  1. dirtyharry

    Clean appearing, turbo charged with a 5-speed, apparently running well & under 5k. Isn’t that the Webster’s definition of a “good deal?”

    Like 1
    • Bill

      195 horsepower,

  2. Adam T45 Staff

    As someone who doesn’t live in the US I have to ask the question: Was this series of Thunderbird an attempt by Ford to take the T-Bird back to its spiritual roots? The T-Bird grew from a car that while it wasn’t a real sports car, at least was a lively performer, into the “land yacht” of the 70’s. My father had a ’57 which was a lovely car. I remember him looking at a later mid ’70’s one and his exact words were, “The only reason you’d call it a Thunderbird is because that’s the badge that Ford has stuck on it.” I like this car. To me it seems like a fitting spiritual successor to the original T-Bird.

    • David H.

      Yes, this car was a radical change from its predecessors, and was the beginning of a series of sporting vehicles that were sort of an American version of the BMW 6 series. The turbo Thunderbird was available from ’83 to ’88 and offered good performance for the time; the supercharged Thunderbird SC was offered from ’89 to ’95 with a supercharged V6. All are a bit underappreciated these days in my opinion.

      Like 1
    • Dan Farrell

      It was an attempt to sell a “grand touring” image when people were growing more and more concerned about gas mileage.

  3. Rustytech Member

    Wow, a turbo coupe with 5sp. Doesn’t get any better than this ( unless it’s a V8 ) This appears in much better shape than the last one, and if I remember correctly it’s the same price. This is a nice ride. Which I had room for it.

    • Alan

      My wife and I got together almost 30 years ago she had a red 1984 turbo coupe with black badging, all power options and a 5 speed. The only problem was a crack on the exhaust manifold under where the turbo sat. We had to keep a can of spray either in engine bay bc it would randomly die at red lights. Loved the car tho.

  4. flmikey

    I have owned an 83 and an 87…loved these cars…with the miles that are showing on this car, you gotta make sure the timing belt, clutch, and head gasket have been changed at least once…other than that, these things are bullet proof….

  5. jim

    My 83 heritage was a v-8. First thing i recognized from the photos is those wheels ! 390mm (iIrc) I believe you can still buy tires in those metric sizes, but they are certainly arent common, and good ones will cost big bucks. Love the car, and it certainly does appear well cared for.

  6. JW

    Very nice Turbo T-Bird for the money.

  7. Mr. TKD

    It even has the original foglight covers. This seems to be a well-preserved example.

  8. Michael V.

    Strange to see one such a low option turbo coupe. No cruise, no A/C, power windows or cruise control. I’m guessing somebody special ordered this car, because even then a dealer wouldn’t have ordered the most expensive engine without all of those options.


      I see an A/C compressor on the passenger side of the engine, down low.

    • Gary

      I bought a new ’84 Turbo Coupe that was ordered for dealer stock with absolutely zero options. No AC, no power windows or locks, no cruise. Dealer had added air when I looked at it and bought it.

  9. Cubs win

    No A/C is a $2500 car

  10. rustylink

    Turbo w/140 ponies in a 1983 3000 lb TBird Zzzzzzz

    Turbo w/140 ponies in a 1983 2600 lbs Fairmont …you have my attention.

    Turbo w/140 ponies in a 1980 2400 lbs Bobcat/Pinto – now we are getting a plan together…

  11. nessy

    This sure was a very modern looking car when it came out in the fall of 82 and it still looks good today. I have never seen a Turbo Coupe without power windows and air until now. Although the Turbo Coupe is the one to have today, I think the Heritage model was the top of the line Bird. Very nice car. I don’t think it’s 4500 nice. I’m sure it can be bought for 3000, maybe less. That 2.3 has alot of miles on it at 161k.

  12. Jaydawg

    These cars definitely have a spot in my heart Im leaning a little more toward the 88 model. Which I think looks much better but what we have here looks like a great example. I know most wouldnt want to change such an original clean car. With the addition of an intecooler from the 88 model with all factory parts you could bump up the power output to around 190hp!

    • RichS

      My father in-law did just that to his ’86. Bought an ’88 that had been run through a barbed-wire fence and transplanted the drivetrain into his. The intercooled ’87-88 hood fits these older 4-eyed cars perfectly (which I personally prefer over the look of the ’87-88 “Aero” cars)

  13. Mark

    I’ve owned at least 5 of these ! I love them! Fast , plush interior for the time period and they handle pretty good. I had a lot of fun with my Turbo Birds !

  14. Djkenny

    I actually Like that it lacks PW. I miss the days of truly sporty cool cars that could be purchased without power options.

    One if the reasons I live my 92 VW GTI 16v is that it has the Goods that Count.

    Great seats, great motor and chassis.. no PW, no PL, nice simple manual sunroof.

    Less crap to break.

  15. Paul Hudson

    I had a 1986 for 5 years. Same Turbo and 5 Speed. It got to 200K with no engine or turbo work. I did install a clutch myself a rear wheel bearing and several power window motors. I loved that car and the way it drove. It had excellent power and averaged 25mpg. The black out trim on the outside chrome was disappointing because it always chipped off and looked tacky. The seats were excellent. Mine had all the options except Leather and sunroof. I bought it wholesale from a Ford Dealer for $3500 with 69K miles back in about 1991 or 1992. I loved the whistling sound the turbo made when accelerating hard. I had previously had a 1985 V6/ Automatic that I bought new. It was nice too but not like the Turbo Coupe. It was like a Luxury Mustang. I actually had a 1988 Mustang 4 Cyl 5 Speed Hatch Back that I also really enjoyed. The fox platform was a real cash cow for Ford.

  16. David Miraglia

    Rented out a T bird in the late 1980’s from Hertz with the six cylinder engine.
    Nice car, wanted one but after my Tempo experience I wound up with a boring but durable Celebrity.

  17. MikeK

    I had a 1984 model. Silver over grey with grey leather and all the buttons. The lumbar was inflated with what looked like a blood pressure cuff bulb that was attached to the front of the seat with a small piece of velcro. Awesome car for the time.

    • CarNut from Winnipeg Member

      82-86 Toyota Supras had that too.

  18. z28th1s

    My uncle bought a new Turbo Coupe in ’86. It was a fun car that gave him great service for many years.

  19. Craig MacDonald

    I saw one of this gen cleaned of all badging and trim with some nice wheels and tinted windows. Good lookin’ car. But the mileage is high for this price.

  20. Larry K

    Ex girlfriend had one, fun and comfortable. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure it had a variable timing switch down low on the dash.

    • David H.

      That might have been the ’84-’86 Mustang SVO — it had a switch for the type of fuel you put in the car. My dad had an ’85 turbo coupe, and no variable timing switch. (But maybe the ’87 and ’88 models had it? These cars had the intercooled engine, developed from the SVO engine.)

  21. chad

    isn’t that the Lima or pinto engine, I think so…

  22. Paul Hudson

    Yup souped up pinto engine. It’s actually a good engine not the smoothest but reliable. I always told people it was like a farm implement. I’ve had non turbos in a Mustsng and Fairmont

  23. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I prefer this engine in this:

    Mine looked exactly like this one.

  24. djkenny

    My parents had one of the last flush mounted light models. The standard V6 in blue over beige, a 1992 model I have to say it was not too shabby. It handled well. Plenty of power. Nice ride.

    The brakes were terrible. They locked up very easily, even with anti lock. I smashed into a car with it when an ambulance came into an intersection with no lights or sounds. I was one year out of high school.

    The Smiths Half a Person was playing in the cassette deck.
    That’s the story of my life… that’s the story of my life (coolant pouring on the ground).

    $3200 damage. It was only a year old. So.. repaired.

  25. Jacob Scarborough

    My first car was a 1984 Mercury Cougar XR-7 TURBO. I loved that car, learned how to drive with that car. Did a few upgrades and got it to whip 5.slows. Black with silver lower. Could not believe how amazing that car was. Would still have it had it not been wrapped around a tree while I was at Boot Camp.

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