North American Turbocoupe Organization

My 1987 Thunderbird Turbocoupe
Rob H Offline
Senior Member
I'm going to post some pictures of my car soon, and I guess in here I will share what I am doing, what I've done so far. Good for looking back in the future, bouncing ideas off people etc
Bought my car in 2015 off a guy who had wanted to fix it up, but had a couple other projects on the go.
It's a 1987 Thunderbird, with 158000 KM(98000 miles) 5 speed turbo, all stock that I know of, though I think the exhaust might have been changed, I don't know for sure. I think it has all the extras except for keyless entry and power passenger seat. Grey leather seats.
When I bought it, the paint was not good, looked almost a bit purple. the red stripe around the car had been changed to a really awful blue colour. The bottoms of the doors were both rusted at the bottom seams, and they were coming apart.
Said at first that I would safety it and maintain it, but that I was not going in deep. I would just enjoy it while it lasted. I was wrong.
My cousins husband works in the body shop at Ford, and said he would paint it, cant remember how much now, but cheap. Think it was $2500. Decided to go for it. Tried to find new doors, and got two out of the states. Sent the drivers door back though, it was worse than the one on the car.
So we fixed the drivers door, and swapped the other, and painted the car back to the original black with red stripe. He did an excellent job, though I was disappointed that he didn't do a bit better job of dust control, lots of little bits in the paint, but you don't see them if you don't look for them Smile Also kept the original rims, but painted the bird in the cap black, as well as the inside of te rims so I don't have to always wipe brake dust.
Found out that a previous owner cut a chunk of metal out of the back end of the car under the back window to accommodate for a big sub box in the trunk, was going to weld a piece back in from a parts car I bought, but never got around to it.
I've had some already documented issues regarding the alternator, but working good now.
New plugs, wires, distributor cap, solenoid, clutch pack, starter, heater core and gas tank. Also did an oil leveler sensor(almost $200??)the other day.
Fixed a bad repair in the exhaust that caused an annoying rattle, fixed a leak in the ac and recharged, and new bushings on sway bar.
Windows tinted.
As for what DOESN'T work or things on my wish list...
Rear defrost will never work unless I pull the window and replace, pretty sure I have a spare.
Surprisingly annoying whine that only goes away when you turn the windshield wipers on. Not loud, but annoying.
Drivers side does not lock when you push the lock button.
Rear seatbelts(not the lap belt, it's fine) are seized.
Pretty sure the original stereo was not always in it. Definitely have some speaker issues. No rear speakers, though wires are there. Front passenger dash speaker doesn't have a signal. Got cheap speakers and adapters off ebay for rear, one works, but not loud. I don't care about great sound, I'd be happy with stock "premium" sound. Need to investigate wiring, fade and balance are definitely not doing what they are supposed to do. Also had a problem with stereo very frequently loosing power to the point of not being able to be used. Seems to have stopped since I changed the starter solenoid...not sure if that makes any sense.
Got a code from HVAC, says 02(floor panel door actuator I think). Not sure if related, but ac works great when set to lowest setting, but not if turned up. I get good air out the dash vents, and I like it cold in summer, but the blinking is annoying.
Weather stripping all around is in good shape, but old. Water leaks into trunk and a bit in doors when raining.
Water gets into rear tail lights, oddly only in automatic wash stations. Found that out the hard way.
Passenger seat belt has a tear or fray, and clip holder "thingy" broken of course.
Not sure what you call it, but the plastic roof piece that covers the pull it closed to block out fabric but plastic in good shape.
No more buzzer warning when boosting too much, worked before heater core replacement. Is there supposed to be a light as well?
Other than that, everything else works great!
Things I want to do and working on:
Fix that UGLY sunroof thing. Not sure how yet
Cleaning and repairing my less attractive set of tail lights, and having them tinted with paint, and converting to LED lights maybe.
Having a friend pull apart and restore cloudy headlight lenses
Find the source of that whining from the wiper switch
Repair stereo issues

Something I'm not sure about regarding the turbo. Am I supposed to have boost in the first two gears?

Anybody ever wire the trunk release so you don't have to have the key in to open the trunk? I'm just happy I got it opening with the button. Now I'm getting greedy Smile
Jumped the gun when it wouldn't open with the button. Had power everywhere I should, but it didn't work. Removed the trunk release actuator and did some testing. Busted the feet off it to inspect it inside, and was set to rebuild it myself or find a similar one and retrofit it when I couldn't find a replacement. Turned out the wire in the connector had come loose. Gorilla glued it back together and working great now. My desire for a keyless trunk pop started that very second when I locked the keys in there!


Rob H Offline
Senior Member
That was all the stuff over the last three years, but in the last week the big ones for me were the sway bar bushings, the rattle in the exhaust, and the AC. What a game changer, minus the stereo working great and the wiper whine, it's finally enjoyable to drive.
That's why it was such a kick in the balls when the alternator went again. I had the car extensively detailed today, and the plan was to take it on a road trip a few hours away to a concert tomorrow with a friend. It's beautiful inside and out now, so I paid the price and replaced the alternator so I can enjoy it tomorrow.
Pictures coming soon!

Rob H Offline
Senior Member
Only photo I have of how it looked when I got it. It actually looks good here somehow, trust me it wasn't.

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newer photos
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I'll get some pics of the interior soon!

Jeff K Offline
The car looks GREAT!!!

Good luck fixing all the little things. Be sure to ask if you have any issues you cant resolve.
Jeff Korn

88 Turbo Coupe: Intake and exhaust mods, T3 turbo at 24 psi, forced air IC, water injection, BPV, Ranger cam, subframes, etc., etc.
86 Tbird 5.0 (original owner): intake, exhaust, valvetrain mods, 100 HP N2O, ignition, gears, suspension, etc., etc.
11 Crown Vic Interceptor
14 Toyota Camry (wifes car)
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized

Rob H Offline
Senior Member
Thanks Jeff Smile
I snapped some pics of the car today including interior now that it finally got a good cleaning. Probably as good as it's ever going to look! I'm talking with a friend of mine who does vinyl lettering for me about printing a black piece with the proper lettering to lay directly over the switch set where the power seat controls are. Might do the two pieces on the doors where the power lock switch is too. It would be matte black, UV resistant and hopefully look about the same as it did when new.

Rob H Offline
Senior Member
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Rob H Offline
Senior Member
This is the piece I would like to have redone. Not sure if I could remove it, get all that remaining fluff and adhesive off, spray with adhesive and attach a piece of cloth myself. Plus doing the little slats would be a pain.
[Image: 20180809_121455_zps9ysbdoan.jpg]

ERIC J snowbird Offline
Posting Freak
I like how the red stripe turns blue in the cold like a Coors light can.
87 Black 5speed, 88 Black 5speed.

Rob H Offline
Senior Member
haha nice Smile
The blue in that picture isn't too bad looking on the car. In real life it was pretty ugly.

anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
Hi Rob:

Here’s some answers.

1) Here in the states you can get a headlight restoration kit for about $35 through the parts store chain O’Reilly’s. Don’t pull apart the headlight assemblies—this kit has a rotary wheel for your drill and various sanding pads to restore them. I haven’t used this one (yet), but I did get one about 10 years ago that was very similar and was very happy with the results.

2) Get better speakers. While the head unit is pretty much crap in the cars from the factory, modern speakers will GREATLY improve even its performance. A chain we have here called Fry’s Electronics is a good source, not sure how it might work for you depending on shipping, etc. I replaced my dash speakers with Kickers and the rear deck ones with Boss Audio. I have yet to replace the door units—but I will.

3) Yes, most of your boost should come from 1st and 2nd gears. Replace the stock setup with a Gillis valve (do a Google search). It runs about $70. I just replaced mine and it’s like driving a different car! I actually TURNED MY BOOST DOWN (it’s adjustable), it was too much. That much boost will only get me into trouble. :racing:

4) Your TC looks awesome! Most of the time its seems like they run good but over time gradually don’t look so much. Once these “gremlins” get fixed you’re well on your way to a VERY nice ride!

5) I am certainly no expert, but you’re welcome to look over my past posts here about some of these same issues.

Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 3 T5OD full rebuilds, 6 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....

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