Estate Find: 1982 Ford Thunderbird

It’s funny how certain generations of vehicles are like the Rodney Dangerfield of cars. The Mustang II is like that, and for some reason, the eight-generation Thunderbird has never really seemed to achieve a lot of love in the general car community. This 1982 Ford Thunderbird is one of the nicest that I have seen and it’s listed here on eBay in Littleton, Colorado. The seller is asking $6,500 or you can make an offer.

What a jewel. Whether a person likes this generation of Thunderbird or not, you have to agree that this one looks absolutely fantastic. I’m a huge fan of these cars which isn’t hard to believe given my penchant for the unusual and often-unloved cars over the popular ones. White isn’t a super exciting color – or tone – but the condition of this car makes up for a lack of color on the exterior

The eighth-generation Thunderbird was made for model years 1980 through 1982 and they were based on the Fox platform, as in the platform that the Mustang was based on. This car is 100% rust-free according to the seller and it has just over 42,000 miles on it. For a 39-year-old car that’s pretty incredible. They do say that although it was garaged its whole life, after going through the estate process it sat outside for six months and got hailed on so there are some tiny dimples. They don’t show closeups of those and that’s unfortunate to hear about.

Even more unfortunate are the unusual interior photos. They don’t show a normal photo here for some reason, they’re all extreme angles or close-ups. Check out the photos to see at least a portion of the interior. But, what they do show looks good.

The engine should be Ford’s 4.2L 255 cubic-inch V8 which would have had around 111 horsepower for non-California markets. The seller says that everything works and that there are a couple of small drips, probably from sitting, but they went through the fuel system and transmission and it works great. Hagerty is at $4,400 for a #3 good condition car, what’s your offer for this one?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Good description Scotty, the “Rodney Dangerfield” of T-Birds. For me, the downsized model which kept the styling and trim motifs from the previous generation(s) just didn’t do it for me. But the car underneath was fine, considering how respected the same car is as the restyled 83-88 version. So, be different and embrace this Fox Body cruiser– it has been well-kept. Not much chance of seeing yourself at Cars & Coffee.

    Like 8
  2. Christopher Gentry

    While I do prefer 83-88 , I think these were a huge improvement over the previous lincoln- birds. These “boxy”birds kinda grow on you.

    Like 5
  3. john donaghey

    its a abomination

    Like 8
  4. Dave

    I recently bought a 67 Thunderbird with a awsome 390 with 81128 orginal miles on the motor.awsome shape…interior almost looks new…didn’t find it in a barn was sitting in a outside storage unit..its a 2 door coupe hard top..

    Like 9
    • Howard Kerr

      I kind of am lukewarm on these Thunderbirds. I actually sort of like the styling on some trim levels, and I agree, white does this car no favors. When they are a single color (absolutely no vinyl roof) I think they ALMOST exude a simple and unadorned, but honest, beauty.
      BUT, the big attraction for these, and the late 80s aerobirds is that so many parts from concurrent Mustangs will ” just plug in and play ” with very little work.
      One of my current cars is a bit like this: a low mileage, little old lady owned, 06 Mustang convertible with every available option. This would be an interesting replacement for my high mileage but still very serviceable 09 Crown Victoria.

      Like 1
  5. Howard A Member

    Oh, Thunderbird, you were once so proud, look what they reduced you to. They weren’t bad cars, quite good cars, actually, just a mere shred of what a Thunderbird was. The ultimate “Gentlemans Cruiser”,,,this? Not so much.The 80’s, as far as I’m concerned, was the beginning of the end of any normalcy, and cars like this led the pack. Still, it was certainly better than what was coming out of Chrysler around this time. Nice find, but tis’ a T-bird in name only, sorry.

    Like 9
  6. Perry C Dangerfield

    No respect….

    Like 2
  7. CCFisher

    I agree with Bob_in_TN. The styling elements that helped make the ’77-’79 Thunderbird such a success just did not translate well to the smaller package in 1980. The end result looked like a kid playing “dress-up” in mommy’s clothes.

    Like 11
  8. Matt Terry

    “…the eight-generation Thunderbird has never really seemed to achieve a lot of love in the general car community.” Considering one of its own designers said it was the only car he’d ever seen that didn’t look good from any angle, it’s understandable.

    Like 2
  9. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    I like ’em, but I’m… different. Here’s a quick modification to add even more cowbell… er.. longer overhangs.

    Like 5
  10. Will Irby

    I bought a brand new 1980 Thunderbird; unlike this stripper model, mine was loaded with everything available except the sunroof. The sticker price was almost $13k, and I beat the salesman down to $9,998, which included a $500 factory rebate. It was two-tone gold/light brown, with a beautiful light brown leather interior, larger aluminum wheels and tires, etc. It had the anemic 302 2-barrel with 4-speed automatic, which did yield 30 mpg on a couple of trips–pretty impressive for 1980 technology. It was a comfortable car, although rear seat room was limited, and would cruise in utter silence at 85 (which was where the digital speedometer stopped), but performance and handling were very unremarkable. It started consuming oil at a frightening rate, and I got $6,600 for it in trade-in two years later.

    Like 3
    • Jcjc

      It probably didn’t like that 85+ cruising, hence the oil usage. Sounds like a lot of sustained RPMs for that motor.

      Like 1
      • Will Irby

        It didn’t have a tach, but with the 2.26 rear axle ratio, 0.7 4th gear ratio, and 25.5″ diameter tires, 85 mph would have been about 1,773 RPM.

        Like 3
    • Gerard Frederick

      You ¨beat the saleman¨ down to 9998. First of having been in the business, you are apparently one of those bastards who shows up at closing time on a saturday and keeps half the sales crew until 1 in the morning ¨beating down¨ the salesman, all the time knowing fully well you are keeping everyone way over closing time and away from their families for maybe 50 bucks. You are a real prince! Aside from that, I don´t believe you, hero. The TB didn´t carry anywhere near that profit margin. After you ¨beat down¨ the saleman it was the poor F&I mgrs time to get jacked off by you.

      Like 2
      • Will Irby

        It’s obvious from reading your reply that English is a second language for you, so I will explain that “beat the salesman (not “saleman”) down” is just a figure of speech. As I recall, it took about 45 minutes from the time I walked into the dealership until I pulled out of the lot, including the time required to wash the car. It’s amazing that despite your lack of command of language, you have determined that I am a bastard, that I buy my cars on Saturdays, and that I am stupid enough to use the F&I services of a dealer. I’m sorry you are so personally offended by my simple statement describing my experience; please forgive me if I’m not equally devastated by the fact that you don’t believe me. However, if it’s that important to you, let’s put some money on it. You get someone to draw up an agreement, we’ll both put the money in escrow, and I’ll produce the window sticker, sales agreement, and canceled check. You pick the number, but to make it worth both of our time, let’s agree on a minimum of $50k. How does that sound, hero?

        Like 4
  11. Scott

    A set of white pony wheels would definitely help.

    Like 1
  12. Joe

    It is going to need a rear main seal, these engine s and 302’s after all these years will leak. If he showed any pictures of the hail damage he might get some offers.

    Like 1
  13. Bhowe Member

    I’ve had 2 of this generation. 80 and 81. 200 l6 and 302. I like the looks of them and the general elegance. Of course I also like the Mustang II. They were trying to keep the look, styling, comfort and luxury of previous birds while acknowledging the need to downsize and improve fuel economy

    Like 3
  14. Herbert Reed

    Needs a set of Texas Longhorns mounted on the hood and it might make a great parade car.

    Like 1
  15. rustylink

    I never understood why Ford used this abomination 4.2L 255 cubic-inch V8 which was likely only rated about at about 11 hp more then the less thirsty 200 CUI. 6 cylinder…

    Like 1
  16. gyates

    My grandparents had a 1980 T’Bird. It had the TRX handling package, 302 V8, digital dash, upgraded audio with amp, power antennae, basically loaded except the sunroof. As a new driver I got to drive it on occasion. Fun car for what it was. The digital dash, however, was terrible on a rainy day with headlamps on. If there was any sunshine at all with the rain the dash was not readable. But on the collector market, this generation just does not have any interest.

    • Joe

      There was no TRX handling package on the 1980 T Bird. They had a optional handling package with 14 inch low profile white wall tires with cast alum rims. The TRX suspension came along later on the 1983 Mustang and it had metric size Michelins.

      • Paul MacD

        I beg to differ. The TRX package came out with the 79 Fox body Mustangs. They were available on the 80 Tbird. Mostly on the Diamond Jubilee edition. I had an 80 Black on black Tbird that was beautiful and got great mileage. If I was closer, I would consider this car.

        Like 4
      • Will Irby

        You beat me to it, Paul. My ’80 T-Bird had the TRX handling package as well. The Michelin TRX tires were a metric size; due to the difference in the bead configuration, they wanted to be sure nobody tried to mount the “wrong” tires.

        Like 2
  17. JoeNYWF64

    The 2 door futura looked better.
    Vent windows too big, tho they do open. But who back would predict vent windows, window frames, & non hidden wipers would RETURN?! &- for more money yet!
    At least the interior is blue.
    Flat dashes i bet were a lot easier to “design” & build – than the much better looking earlier curved cockpit dashes. Another step – backwards.

  18. princeofprussia

    $6,500 WITH hail damage? So it’s like a pock-marked Rodney Dangerfield.

    Like 1
  19. Elvis

    This is not your Grampa’s Fairmont

    Like 1
  20. Joe

    There was not TRX handling package on the 1980 to 1982 Ford Thunderbird, there was TR type tires. The only suspension that was a option was the heavy duty handling suspension, not listed as a TRX and that was used on many ford platforms. It was a $88.00 option cost

    Like 1
    • Will Irby

      My window sticker listed it as “Michelin TRX tires and handling package”, so I guess I just assumed that the “TRX” applied to both the tires and the suspension.

      Like 1
      • Joe

        No you had to buy a Mustang to get the true TRX Package.

  21. JCA

    It’s like an automotive combover

    Like 2
  22. Maestro1 Member

    If you remove the small side window, which is absurd, you get a much improved profile. I don’t know what to do with the bumpers.

  23. C5 Corvette

    I’m going to give a different view. I have owned 6 T-Birds over the years. (when they were fairly new) The 1st was a 69 Landau and the last a 81. The 81 was silver with a reddish padded roof. Interior was also the off red color. 255 V-8 automatic. I loved it. It rode nice and quiet. the ride was smooth. I even on occasion towed my loaded car hauling trailer with it with zero problems. The gas mileage was really good esp. after the 75 T-bird I had just before this one! I traded it in on a 84 Merc Grand Marque which was fabulous.

    Like 1
  24. 64 Bonneville

    I picked up an 80 T-Bird for our daughter for $300.00 when she turned 16 in 1986. Had the 255 V-Hate, most disgusting engine Ford ever produced. thirsty as a 460 and as powerful as the 1.5L in the original Pinto. had the sunroof, and radio w/ power amp on it. Black w/ red interior, my favorite color combination. Unfortunately, the jerk of a boyfriend at the time (later husband, barf!) tore it up really good with his abuse to the car. I did give him a “come to Jesus” moment right after they married, though. has keep him pretty well in line since.

    Like 2
    • JoeNYWF64

      Ford should have stuck with the economical dependable 250 cube strait 6 instead of this v8 or optional v6 or too small 200 cube strait 6.

  25. Mike

    Sadly the cars from the Big Three during this era were devoid of any style or panache. They were poorly built as well. Most of them lie forgotten in junk yards where they belong. Rest in pieces!

  26. DAVID

    Is it a Cougar ? Is it a Granada? Is it a Zephyr. it is the worst re badge attempt in Ford motor company history

  27. Roger h

    I thought it says no personal attacks I can’t believe someone would be so pissed off about a simple comment and call them a bastard wow c’mon now lets be nice why so mad at someone u don’t even know unbelievable

    Like 1
    • Will Irby

      That’s kinda what I thought too, Roger. Apparently, Mr. Frederick is one of those who believes that his personal experiences represent the entire range of world conditions, and therefore anyone who posits otherwise should be publicly reprimanded and ridiculed. I noticed that he hasn’t responded to my offer of a wager, which should be easy money for him if he’s that sure I’m a lying bastard.

      Like 1
  28. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this T-Bird sold, apparently for $6,500.

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