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Turbo Coupe Survivor: 16K Mile Ford Thunderbird

One of the cars that is outside my normal sweet spots of old, German, and good handing or old, Japanese, and utilitarian is the Ford Mustang SVO or Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. I’m not sure why, but I love turbocharged Fords, especially in the shape of an otherwise ungainly luxo-barge like this find T-Bird. Throw in the manual gearbox and I’m already sold. Find this survivor-grade example here on eBay with a $13,890 Buy-It-Now.

Yes, that price: that’s another reason I’ve got my eye on these, as prices seem to be marching upwards. I actually know of where a tired manual transmission-equipped Turbo Coupe is hiding out, and it’s the right spec, too, with the adjustable suspension, front air dam and hood scoops, and black paint with the red pinstripe. I really can’t stop thinking about it, but for the time being, this early example with just over 16,000 original miles is one to salivate over.

The manual transmission cars came with more power from the factory over the automatic-equipped examples, making them the ones to buy and not just for the driving enjoyment alone. The older Thunderbirds like this do look a bit more dated inside, but they still reign supreme as comfortable cruisers with the unusual combination of big bodies and manual gearboxes. According to the seller, the Marti Report confirms this is the only one built this way – a true 1 of 1 car.

I’d love more information on how this is possible, but the seller routinely lists collector-grade survivors, so I have little reason to doubt the claim. As Gen Xers start feeling increasingly nostalgic about the cars from their youth, vehicles like the turbocharged Fords will certainly begin to appreciate – which is why I think buying one as a cheap project is a smart buy at the moment. Anyone agree?


  1. AndyinMA

    The looks have aged very well.

    Like 7
    • UncleJoe43119

      I always loved the looks of these t-birds and cougars. And as I’m getting older, I love them even more.

      Like 5
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      I agree, the clean styling has aged better than most 80’s cars, in my opinion. Along with similar vintage Fox Body Mustangs, prices are steadily headed up, especially for clean, low-mileage specimens. I actually like the earlier four-eye models a bit better than the later aero-nose models, but I’d gladly own either.

      Like 3
      • Greg

        Had an ’83 “base” model (turbo came out a little later). But Ioved the shape back then even though many called it a jelly bean. Bought an ’89 SC and that was a car. Automatic suspension, upper and lower lumbar support, independent rear suspension, and of course that supercharger.

        Like 0
  2. Bakyrdhero

    The first brand new car I recall riding in was one of these. I was 6 years old and my love affair with cars had already begun. The 86’s had a slightly updated interior with a different radio and steering wheel at least. Same steering wheel used in the 87 Mustang. Also the same rims. I think these still look great today and wouldn’t hesitate to keep one for a Sunday drive. I can’t believe the price has crept up that high though, seems like this was A 5-7k car a couple years ago..

    Like 3
  3. Angrymike

    “especially in the shape of an otherwise ungainly luxo-barge like this find T-Bird.”

    Wow, you must be quite young ! If you think of this T-Bird as a barge you’ve never driven a mid sixties Pontiac !

    I always liked these, decent styling but lacking the hp. I’m not sure what the hp rating on these was, but my buddies turbo wasn’t all that powerful. Anyone know how the Super-coupe ran ?
    Nice car !

    Like 3
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      …or someone who has only driven German hot hatches and rear wheel drive sedans/coupes for the entirety of his driving career.

      Like 1
      • Angrymike

        I guess I didn’t think of that, but still don’t see how these were large. Just my opinion though.

        Like 2
    • Dave Mazz

      “Modern” turbo fours can make 300+ hp., more that double the rated output of this ’84 Thunderbird’s engine. I bet this T-bird would move right along if it had a 300 hp. power plant! .:-) :-)

      Like 1
  4. Boatman Member

    While you’re salivating over it, how about telling us the year?

    Like 2
  5. Bakyrdhero

    The EBay link says it’s a 1984.
    @AngryMike. I thought the same thing! Compared to this Birds predecessors this one is practically a compact!

    Like 3
  6. D.Meister

    Luxo-Barge ……HAHA

    Like 5
  7. Stevieg

    Hey AngryMike, I used to own a used car lot. I went to the auction one day and found a Super Coupe there. It was dented, rusty, just an old beater similar to the GNX from a few days ago…ridden hard & put away wet. But WOW! Was it fast! I had a great time thrashing her! So did the next owner.

    Like 0
    • Angrymike

      I wasn’t impressed with the turbo, bit I’ll bet the “Superbird really ran !

      Like 0
  8. RoughDiamond

    That ’84 Turbo Couple is a nice one. I could easily see someone doing the BIN purchase. It’s no mystery how Marti gets the 1 of 1. The just kept comparing options on the car listed against others like it until they got down to two identical cars except that the car listed had the “Traveler’s Assistance Kit” whereas the other one did not.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      That 1 of 1 is a joke. It’s a cool car, but bringing that up is trying too hard. If I was talking to the owner and they said it was for an irrelevant option I’d think the owner was nuts and finish the conversation as quickly as possible.

      Steve R

      Like 4
  9. Todd Zuercher

    You don’t see many of this vintage around. I like them but I like the 87-88s the best.

    Like 5
  10. Brian

    Drove one exactly like this in 1984, but black. Very fast, the turbo would whistle, back seat was fantastic, no torque. Door and console trim fell apart the first year. Much more fun than gt Mustang of that era.

    Like 1
  11. Cadmanls Member

    It’s a Fox body car! Geez kind if high end price for the car but the mustang is climbing in price also. Being the one of is a travel pack option, really and it was 65 bucks from what I see on the sticker and it wasn’t a popular option at that. So think owner is reaching.

    Like 1
  12. Karl

    The 69 Cougar will always be one of my favorites right along with the fox body mustangs but this to me be it turbo or not and I didn’t even have a clue they made this in a manual? With all that said this just isn’t my cup of tea although it does look to have aged well. For the person who really likes these cars this looks to be a good example.

    Like 1
  13. James VanSicklin

    I had a 85 turbo coupe black with red pinstripes loved it ,it had its problems 4 ECUs the first 6mo. And 3 turbos but when that got fixed I loved it and with the Koni shocks it was a fun car and pretty fast for the power to weight with a 5sp

    Like 2
  14. Steve

    Jeff must be too young to have been around when these aero coupes first hit the streets. The last word I would use to describe these is ungainly. They were stunning.

    Like 1
  15. Bakyrdhero

    I agree Steve. We had a 78 Tbird, then an 81 Cougar followed by a black 86 Turbo coupe. The 86 compared to those two cars felt like a European sports coupe. Ford really started getting exciting with these, the XR4TI and the 87 Mustang. Add the Taurus SHO to that list also. These Tbirds went a long way in helping to rebuild Fords image for the 80’s and beyond.

    Like 2
    • charlie Member

      Friend had one which he loved and had over 285,000 miles on it when the northern New England tin worm did it in.

      Like 0
  16. Steve D

    This guy (Cherokee) comes up with some neat finds

    Like 2
  17. Fiete T.

    Got one of these, ’86 version, the same color & powertrain-but the grille was body color, it was a grayish-black below the rub strip, sunroof, 98 k miles for $330 at an impound auction. Put tires on it, did the brakes, serviced it fully, drove it a bit and sold it for $2k…good car

    Like 1
  18. marc tupper

    Have an 86 turbo coupe for 10 years was a barn find ,parked 12 years and had 43000 miles paid $3400 for it spent $800 on it and drove it to 65000 miles, now in retirement and needing paint job and other repairs none major that value is less than my original cost .There is no body damage or rust.
    If you had bought the Mustang you would have been much further ahead

    Like 0
  19. Raymond Shingleton

    Should have seen them being made from start to drive off the line, like I did.

    Like 0
  20. BillyB196

    I had an ‘85 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, 5 speed, black with gray interior. That car was awesome, a lot of fun to drive, and a great riding car on the highways. As I recall I paid about $16,800 for it and sold it in 1992 for around $5000 and it had over 160,000 miles on it.

    Like 0
  21. lc

    The 2.3 turbo coupe in my 90 Mustang LX has to owe its gratitude to the 84 turbo coupe that it came out of along with the VAM, injectors, and computer which are out of a 88 turbo coupe. My Mustang was formerly a 2.3 non turbo.
    On the 2.3 turbo, it gave me some issues the other day. It acted like it wanted to die without giving it gas. Turned out it was missing the vacuum to the the mass sensor. Have no idea how that came up missing or fell off. The only thing I can think of is that I floor the pedal on it every once in awhile, and maybe that’s how it fell off.
    I do have a 84 Mercury Cougar LS 3.8 Essex, and the car has gold paint and chamois interior. I like the styling of it like this 84 T-Bird Turbo Coupe. The Cougar runs like a champ; first year for fuel injection on Cougar. Unfortunately, I am thinking of selling one of them to fund some house projects.

    Like 1
  22. Bob C.

    THESE were the Thunderbirds of the 80s. The previous Fairmont birds, blah. The 1989 vintage, again blah.

    Like 0
  23. Steve

    Hey LC
    I did the same thing. 86 Turbocoupe 5 Speed drivetrain into my 4 cyl automatic mustang convertible. Made a fun little car. I need to finish. The turbocoupe body had been vandalized and was beyond hope or I wouldn’t have done it.

    Like 0
  24. bowmad

    Back in the 90’s I had an 88 turbo-coupe but with an automatic. Previous owner had replaced the turbo before trading. I had heard if you ran the turbo hard and didn’t allow for cool down the life span would be short. Chasing down electrical gremlins with all the options was problematic. It was loaded with everything but the moon roof. A blast to drive and for something that size/weight it could surprise folks in traffic, push you back in the seat. Surprisingly the body style did not receive better NASCAR support/results.

    Like 0
  25. Lc

    Yeah Steve. It is cool. I didn’t transplant the 2.3 Turbo Coupe engine myself. I bought it that way from a retired Army mechanic who did it. I had found another one for sale at the same time, but this one still had the original paint and better interior where the other one had primer black.

    Like 1
  26. Lc

    I used to have these Turbo Coupe wheels pictured on this car, but they were a little dinged up. I put them on the 81 Ford Durango (Fairmont conversion) which I sold.

    Like 0
  27. MikeK

    I had an 84 back in the day. Silver over dark grey with grey leather interior and all the boxes checked. It was an awesome car, except for those metric wheels.

    Like 0
  28. Kevin Haymon

    Is this the model that had horizontal shocks in the back?

    Like 0

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