This Ford Thunderbird was Bought Brand New in Vancouver Canada for $4000.oo after my Grampa traded in his 76 corodoba (for being hard on gas) as the energy crunch was on. This was the dealership's demo car built November 1980 as an 81 model it came with a very unusal option that nobody seems to know why but it came with the 5.0 liter but with the 3 speed auto in stead of the 4 speed auto which was supposed to be standard with the 5.0 liter. Other options it came with was vinyl roof delete, heavy duty handling suspension, leather seats, power windows, and centre consel. It was used as his company car for about 12 years and then after he retired it was used for his personal use, he took this car from Vancouver to Mexico, California, Florida and all over the states for vacation's ect after he retired. The car sat after those trips for 2 years in his garage as he no longer needed to drive it. (as he lived so close to everything). I was givin it in 1999 and began the task of fixing it up. Grampa was a heavy smoker so the headliner had to be removed and replaced along with cleaning the tar stains on the dash and on everything as the whole interior was sticky and blackish, after that was done i drove it through high school till the bottom end of the engine went along with tired out 3 speed auto. The engine was re-built and the trans updated to the 4 speed that it shoulda had in the first place. Now the car is used as a daily driver taking me through college with no problems putting on another 100,000 on the old girl in 4 years, issuses with this car have been the power windows that seem to be very fussy, ive had to replace the motors 3 times on the passenger side and the poor heater core location which is located under everything on the dash and a bitch to change, ive had to do it twice since the sodier went on the first one. The ride of this car is very stiff even compared to my ford focus which rides softer, i can take very sharp corners when it's dry out and have almost no body roll. When driving in the rain the rear end seems very light and is easy to lose control around corners as i found out with my dad when we first drove the car we did a 360' and ended up on the wrong side of the road........lol. Currently all the carpet underlay has been replaced, floor pan welded on the driver's side as it began to rip and i bought two new front seat's with better back support outta a 2002 saturn. The seats still need to be reupolstered in leather, next year's project.
Early morning start up lots of moisture in the exhaust
Sitting in the driveway idling in front of the focus
While not looking very Aerodynamic like its 1983 counterpart i constanly get people trying to buy this thing off me. They say because it looks so distinct compared to other cars, these cars were bad mouthed when they came out because of the over styling of the bodies,and thats what made them slow sellers, but they did did bring alot of new technical stuff to the ford lineup including the 4 speed Automatic with lockup torque converter ,Electronic dash, keyless entry,Rack and pinion steering, 4 wheel coil springs, and a switch back to unibody construction for the first time u could get a thunderbird to get over 25 miles a gallon. The more ordinary looking Aerobirds got these features as well and to a point are basically the same car with sleeker (Better) syling.
Taken with its new 2004 cavilier orange pearle metallic paint job that i did myself. It was done in my back yard the summer before.
Out on a beach on vancouver island
After gutting the interior i began work raising the floorpan and welding it back in place (this is a common problem for the fox bodied cars)
After the floor was repaired and some minor leaks by the side window moulding were repaired the new underlay and original shag carpeting were reinstalled (nows smell's like a new car again)
The 5.0 liter was rebuilt in 1999 when i was in high school me and a buddy got it machined and we put it back together in shop class my first and last rebuild.
It was origanally rated at about 150 HP but ive since put on shorty headers from a mustang, along with 3 inch dual exhaust with a crossover pipe, an electric fan and all emission parts were left off after the rebuild so a guess would be maybee 180-190 H.P now.
showing the electric fan
My 2001 ford focus is now used for the rough jobs thats i won't take my Thunderbird on anymore including climbing mountains ect my job requirs me to have a vehical for off roading as im a film location scout for a Film commision and i travel dirt roads often, interesting enoufe the Thunderbird is much better off road than the focus, going up steep gravel hill's in the focus is terrible when wieght shifts to the back of the car i lose a ton of traction from the front wheel drive and it's just spinning away, climbing the same hill's in the Thunderbird is not a problem at all, the suspension component's in the Thunderbird are much stronger than the focus as ive already had to replace some of the focus's sway bar links with only about 12 thousand km/s on gravel roads.
Back end also showing the newly installed trailer hitch which was used to haul a 15ft trailer camping during the summer season, i can still go about 120km/h up a very steep 30% grade with out over heating problems.
Taken out in the bush going fishing August 2005
Out at a logging camp June 2005