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Classy Lady: 1980 Ford Thunderbird

1980 Ford Thunderbird

I always forget this generation of the Thunderbird existed. Even though the basic design remained the same for many years, this generation’s front and rear treatments looked surprisingly modern, and the tighter proportions worked well on the compact Fox platform. Seen here on eBay, this 1980 Thunderbird wears an interesting shade of pink (or peach?) and belonged to a woman who was an antique dealer and collector. 

1980 Ford Thunderbird Interior

With only 60,000 miles, you would expect that the interior looked this good. Whatever the exterior color is called, I hope you like it since the scheme carries into the interior. While it does come with A/C, the belt isn’t hooked up so you know there’s more work involved than simply re-attaching it. The seller hints at some other interior work needed but doesn’t elaborate – do you see anything suspect in this photo?

1980 Ford Thunderbird Engine

Previous Thunderbirds were based on the Torino platform, making for a much larger (and heavier) car. Like so many vehicles from this era, slimming down and increasing MPGs was the name of the game. However, the 4.2L Windsor V8 seen here was not like the Thunderbirds of old, and likely turned more customers away than it attracted. Later on, a V6 was offered, but it didn’t matter much for the 8th generation’s sales.

1980 Thunderbird

One of my favorite features of this generation is the hideaway headlights. I loved them on the Lincolns as well, but like so many other “trick” features, they can become a nuisance with age. In this car’s case, the headlights slowly open back up after the car has been shut off, giving it a Christine-like vibe when parked in a dark garage. This Thunderbird supposedly had a transmission rebuild and a repaint not too long ago, but is the $1,800 asking price still too much?


  1. Avatar photo Scotty G

    It always kills me to see manual windows on these “luxury” cars. Now, you can barely get a motorcycle without power windows.. er.. well, you know what I mean. The very, very basic standard features today weren’t even standard on luxury cars a couple’three decades ago. What an era.

    A great looking example here with a few things to sort out for sure, and $1,800 seems more than reasonable for this car.

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  2. Avatar photo jeff

    $ 1800 for a running driving ” survivor car ” in this shape is not bad. Would probably offer them $ 1300-1500 based on AC work needed — I expect it will still pull 15-16 mph City and 18-20 mph Highway :) Heck — if I was a Highschool kid — this is a good daily driver that you don’t have to worry about beating on too bad and can always find in the parking lot at the mall :)

    I was driving this T-bird last year before it had to be retired :(

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  3. Avatar photo randy

    4.2 engine? Never heard of it.

    I assume this car was built on the Granada platform. I never liked this “style”.
    It would make a good car for a teen though, and there would not be another like it at school for sure.

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  4. Avatar photo jeff

    Hmm — my picture did not upload ,…… lets try it again

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  5. Avatar photo jeff


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  6. Avatar photo Fred

    Had one in the mid 80’s- not impressed. Remember the headliner falling down around my ears.

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  7. Avatar photo Todd Zuercher

    Randy – the 4.2 was the 255 ci (what we called it back in the good old cubic inch days). Lasted 2-3 years before Ford got smart and went back to the 5.0 in ’82.

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    • Avatar photo randy

      Thanks, it appears that Ford did everything it could think of to kill the T-bird.
      I did like the turbo coupe that came after this, I think. It still was not a real T-bird though. The retro T-bird that tried to mimic the 55-57 was a real turd.

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      • Avatar photo Barry T

        Why they kept calling these barges Thunderbirds is a puzzle to me.

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  8. Avatar photo DABIG KAHUNA

    These things were a gussied up Ford Fairmount. Craptasticness at is best. Made the argument for buying a jap car valid!

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  9. Avatar photo Blyndgesser

    The same Fox platform as the Fairmont, yes–not to mention the ’79-93 Mustang. Much better handling than anything else in its class, and easy to upgrade to some serious Windsor muscle if you’re inclined.

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  10. Avatar photo Nessy

    I have a friend who has a fully loaded one, black with a black top and bright red leather interior with the rare digital dash and the factory moonroof. It’s a nice car. I kind of like this body style. I’m not saying I would own one but this redish peach color combo is pretty neat, or at least it’s different.

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  11. Avatar photo 64 bonneville

    we bought one for our daughter when she turned 16 in 1987 for $300.00. I had to rebuild the carb and do a major tune up. The 255 was worse than a boat anchor. would rather had one with the inline 6, which had more go. Yes, the headliner did have a tendency to “drape” over you after awhile. Other than price the main reason I bought it was NO vinyl top and a sunroof. Never did like vinyl tops, even back in 1963 when they first came out, just hides rust in the roof, and a super cheap way for the manufactures to save money on paint, but bump the price for the roof covering. the 5 liter in 82 was a lot better power plant and gave the car some go.

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  12. Avatar photo Steve

    Those chopped off Landau tops were a signature Iacocca thing that he later polluted Chryslers with throughout the malaise era.

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  13. Avatar photo Wayne Thomas

    Fox body platform you say? Either a Coyote swap with IRS for the most insane drift car or maybe a 3.5L ecoboost for a wicked sleeper. Malaise cars should never be left period correct.

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  14. Avatar photo piper62j

    Yep.. VIN decodes to a 255ci engine.. This is a first for me.. I just don’t remember that size engine back then.. But, here it is..

    VIN Format: 1960-1980 Ford/Mercury/Edsel/Lincoln

    Decoding: 0H87D113571

    Digit Usage VIN Decoded
    1 Year 0 1980
    2 Plant H Lorain OH
    3-4 Series 87 Ford Thunderbird 2-door sedan
    5 Engine D V8 255-2v (4.2L) (118hp MT,119HP AT)
    6-11 Sequential Serial # 113571 113571

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  15. Avatar photo krash

    …reminds me of the rentals my brothers used to destroy during drunken weekends…
    they’d take them off-road and abuse them until the transmissions failed…then get the family tow truck…stop to wash them first and then return them to the various rental agencies…

    today, these same fools are all upstanding, strict, model parents…(if their kids only knew)

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  16. Avatar photo rick

    UGH. Crapcan. In the late 80’s I bought my Dad one. I spent more keeping it going for one year than I spent on the car itself.

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  17. Avatar photo Don Harris

    I have a 82 Heritage Edition. I’ve read and see how people beat up on these cars and true enough it is not a desireable classic. On the other hand I sure enjoy the thumbs up I get from many people who knows what they are and those who don’t. My car did come with the 302/5.0 with a 2 barrel. Replace that with a 4 barrel and dual exhaust. Sounds good and performs even better.

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    • Avatar photo Mr. TKD

      Nice! Drive what you like.

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  18. Avatar photo '59FORDfan

    Oh-I, really, like your car, Mr. Harris! I had an ’80 XR7; the most comfortable car, ever, I’ve driven. Traded, with a fellow, for his ’81 New Yorker-always, felt like I was driving that car
    from the back seat!

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    • Avatar photo Don Harris

      Thanks a lot friend. Sometimes I think of selling it knowing all the while only certain people desire these cars and the fact I couldn’t get what I have in it. I drive it to work every once in awhile and almost everytime receiving a compliment. This is when I say to my self, I’ll hold on to it. I know as soon I get rid of it I’ll regret it. That’s how it works. I was a big fan of the boxy Chryslers in the day. Some about the grill and the way the back glass was shaped I liked a lot.

      Like 0

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