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Period Custom: 1985 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

There was a distinct phase in the 1980s when it wasn’t just imports getting slapped with body kits and decal stripes. The domestic crowd wasn’t opposed to adding an air dam and some side skirts to up the aggression factor, and this 1985 Ford Thunderbird listed here on eBay is living proof that the aftermarket is vast and wide. The seller’s car comes with the 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder and a variety of mechanical improvements.


Check out that dose of 80s glory! The color-matched wheels, custom stripes down the side, rear spoiler, side skirts – the list of cosmetic enhancements goes on and on. I know we often roll our eyes at “tacky” modifications like these, but it also has a slight historical quality to it as this was a point in time when custom touches such as these were completely acceptable (and even celebrated!) I don’t think we live in that world today.

I’ve always loved the interiors of the Thunderbird and Lincoln Mark VII; deep-bolstered buckets, simple gauge clusters, and a tidy driver control “tower” in the center stack. The car shown here doesn’t have leather like many of the Thunderbirds from this era, but at least the cloth upholstery isn’t lipstick red (though, in some ways, that would be truly period-correct!) The seller notes the power seats work as does the factory air conditioning.

Obviously, many of you would prefer to see the 5.0L V8 under the hood, and truthfully, so would I. But the turbocharged mill gives this big coupe a twinge of being a luxury version of the Mustang SVO, and if it was one of the rare few equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox, it really would be a grown-up version of Ford’s boosted coupe. The seller notes several recent repairs, including a rebuild head and new timing set and belt, coil springs, shocks, front brakes, lines, rotors, struts, sway bar bushings and much more. Bidding is sitting at just $2,850 with no reserve, so this could be a bargain in the making.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    I like it. Most of the add on parts compliment the original shape of the car and the overall effect is different but not outlandish. Underside shots do tell a good story about the condition of the car.

    Like 15
  2. AndyinMA

    This makes me sad

    Like 9
    • DN

      cry harder! 🤣

      Like 5
      • Frank W Garrigan

        It’s like Sammy Hagar’s pants, in car form.

        Like 3
  3. CarnutDan

    What this author of this article is missing and might not be aware of are the car shows where this T-Bird would fit in perfectly. They are called Radwood and for those that may not know the Radwood car shows feature the cars built in the 1980s and 1990s only.
    As a carnut from the 1980s I would love this car and would leave it as it is and would NOT change a thing on it or about it.

    Like 22
    • JBD

      Great car! Somebody got a smoking bargain! Hopefully the right buyer will fix everything correctly and take it to car shows!

      Like 0
  4. Scrapyard John

    I think it would look pretty good once you broke out the heat gun and peeled all of the stickers off. I kinda dig the color matched wheels, to be honest. I’m assuming that orange/red was not the factory color?

    Like 3
  5. CCFisher

    Period custom? I don’t remember a period when cars were made to look like this. Yuck.

    I wouldn’t want to see a V8 under the hood, because Ford never offered the HO 5.0 in the Thunderbird. I would definitely prefer to see a 5-speed between the seats, though.

    Like 5
    • Big C

      You never must have been to hot rod meets, back in the day. Those stripes were everywhere!

      Like 20
    • Howard A Member

      I believe they did, 1989-1993(?).

      Like 0
    • JBD

      5.0 HO was standard V8. The mustang got some features the TBird didn’t but the 5.0 HO was standard in many cars & trucks. E7 lower truck manifold is known as Holley SysteMax I lost and makes to The Holley upper.

      Like 7
      • JBD

        5.0 HO was standard V8. The mustang got some features the TBird didn’t but the 5.0 HO was standard in many cars & trucks. E7 lower truck manifold is known as Holley SysteMax I lower and mates to The Holley upper.

        Like 3
      • JBD

        Sorry! Spellcheck is making bad mods. AI will solve? Barrage in/ Garbage out Programming. Ever watch Terminator SkyNet movies?

        Like 1
  6. Howard A Member

    I had a buddy that has 2 of these, one a 302 and the other a turbo coupe like this. He said, the turbo coupe was, by far, his favorite. Plenty of steam, and still a shred of economy. I say, put these motors in big 50s/60s cars, and be a hit. We don’t need big motors anymore, and this could power a land yacht for simple cruising. Far as appearance, if you don’t like it, you obviously weren’t there in the 80s, and I think it’s really cool. Whatever happened? I’ve become my father, that’s what happened,,,

    Like 0
  7. Mike H.

    I don’t come on here and run down the cars and I’m not going to this time. But, here we go with the butts, this car looks fine but those god awful strips need to go. Pink and yellow with a bit of blue throwed in, on a red car, not good. Just my 2 cents. Ya’ll have a great day!

    Like 4
  8. JBD

    Time Machine! Brings me back to my misspent youth. A good buddy had a 5.0 with bolt-ons, but a boosted 2.3 turbo would walk it with a boost controller and bone stock turbo setup. It was common to add SVO mustang mods and beat up on 5.0s.

    Like 7
  9. Rick Rothermel

    I made good money back then doing bold tape striping for dealers and individuals. These look like tape work. If so an hour with an eraser wheel might wipe the awful away…

    Like 1
    • Rallye Member

      That’s when I sold air dams, side skirts and lots of other accessories.
      Remember the +1 wheel and tires?

      Like 3
  10. Bobch

    Those red wheels are from a red cougar XR-7

    Like 4
  11. Fran

    Mine was a manual. I had ground effects also and mine had a nose panel very cool!! That is when Ford had it together.

    Like 2
  12. Vibhic

    I could live with it if the red wheels and the awful stripes were removed. A boosted 4cyl is not a bad option. A five in the floor exchange would be in the plans as well.

    Like 2
  13. Vibhic

    And I missed the blacked out grille,which if was red to match the car color would not stick out like a sore thumb.

    Like 3
  14. Ten50boy

    It is period correct. I like it as it is.

    Like 4
  15. jrswbskns

    SOLD FOR $2850!! Wow, appreciating the period correct look and guaranteed smiles at Cars & Coffee, the buyer got a DEAL!

    Like 4
  16. Christopher Gentry

    Sold 2850.00

    Like 1
  17. Blake, does my opinion really matter ???

    this is a wonderful car without the, um, upgrades. I can’t judge. I still want one of these birds. I made extra money putting graphics and stripes of my designs on cars back then at dealers to pay for college. Forgive me for the Mustang laser lll graphic job already. Does anyone else remember that back in the 80’s when you could buy fashion snap on plastic covers for your exposed windshield wipers in oh soooo 80’s pink, aqua, yellow, lime green, and powder blue. They sold them in every dept store car section (Shout out to K-mart) along with the newest craig stereos. Don’t forget to get that door lock cylinder plate stick on protector cover proudly displaying your car make.

    Like 3
  18. TS

    Nightmare on wheels. I’d wrap that in a flat army-grey-green and change the wheels to a gloss black. Everything else could stay. Those colors never belong on any so-called “sports car”. It looks like Skittles on roller skates!

    Like 0

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