North American Turbocoupe Organization



Opinions On Purchasing 87’ Turbo Coupe
Joeballz Offline
Junior Member
#1
Im new to this forum this is my first post. So I have the opportunity to buy a 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo coupe 5 speed w/68k from its original owner (even has original window sticker). The car is beyond mint and well taken care of. However Im trying to figure out how hard parts will be to get in the future. I know these models are getting old and parts are getting scarce. The owner claims everything works perfect except for the auto ride control which has bad solenoids. He also told me he always ran regular fuel, really premium would have been ideal. Should I expect any issues since he always ran regular? He’s an older guy doesn’t seem like the car saw any real abuse. Other than that the car is super clean always garage kept. He wants 8300$ neg which I think is a reasonable starting point. Im mostly concerned with the “what if’s” down the line, such as blowing a motor etc needing parts and not being able to locate any. Im not really concerned about the tranny since its a T5 but its the other parts that concern me. Im not set on it Im also looking into 87-93 Foxbodys, but I’ve always has a soft spot for tc’s.
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John B Offline
Member
#2
As you suspected, parts are not the easiest to find as VERY few things are still being made by ford. The non-ford parts for OEM type equipment are hit or miss as far as reliability. Certain items are about impossible to get unless you check ebay everyday and are willing to shell out big bucks for it like headlights and original shocks.

I lot of this also depends on what you want to do with the car. I haven't had any problems because I've gone aftermarket with everything; i.e. coilover suspension, brakes, turbo, ecu management, etc. but keeping the car totally original has its challenges.

There should be no issues with the regular fuel use as long as he kept the regular switch on. There's a switch on the dashboard for regular or premium fuel. The premium switch I believe advances the timing just a tad and allows more boost. That would obviously not be good with the regular fuel.

The 2.3t motors are very stout. They can take quite a bit of punishment. There's a ton of guys on here running TC's with over 200K on the clock. The tranny is a world class T5 in the 87-88 TC but one thing to be mindful of is that the input shaft is a smaller diameter than its V8 counterpart so you can't just get a V8 T5 and throw it in. You would have to have a shop grind down the input shaft to make it work (which plenty of guys have done). There's a special bearing that could be used but apparently, it only lasts 3,000 miles before going out. Not worth it in my opinion
88 Turbo Coupe: Front mount intercooler, MGW short throw shifter, full coilover conversion, tubular control arms front and rear, svo front brakes, vacuum assist brake swap, manual steering swap, GT35R turbo with external gate, pimpx ecu, 60lb injectors, 3 core aluminum radiator, corbeau fixed back seats, and the list goes on.
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Joeballz Offline
Junior Member
#3
Where do you guys find aftermarket suspension? Is it possible to convert the prc since it’s not working?
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#4
(08-08-2019, 04:53 PM)Joeballz Wrote: Im new to this forum this is my first post. So I have the opportunity to buy a 1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo coupe 5 speed w/68k from its original owner (even has original window sticker). The car is beyond mint and well taken care of. However Im trying to figure out how hard parts will be to get in the future. I know these models are getting old and parts are getting scarce. The owner claims everything works perfect except for the auto ride control which has bad solenoids. He also told me he always ran regular fuel, really premium would have been ideal. Should I expect any issues since he always ran regular? He’s an older guy doesn’t seem like the car saw any real abuse. Other than that the car is super clean always garage kept. He wants 8300$ neg which I think is a reasonable starting point. Im mostly concerned with the “what if’s” down the line, such as blowing a motor etc needing parts and not being able to locate any. Im not really concerned about the tranny since its a T5 but its the other parts that concern me. Im not set on it Im also looking into 87-93 Foxbodys, but I’ve always has a soft spot for tc’s.
Here’s the bottom line on parts: they are not always easy to find. Since 2003 I have had a search set up on eBay for Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe parts, with the express purpose of finding, purchasing and storing spare parts. I don’t buy everything I see there, just the items I think I might need in the future or ones I think could become extremely rare. I have no interest in stockpiling parts to sell later on, everything I get would be for my TC.

I am in the process of rebuilding a spare motor for installation in my car. I haven’t found most of the vital engine parts to be all that rare; things such as piston rings and bearings seem to be readily available on eBay, so most engine damage should not be too much of a concern; also there are many members of this discussion board who have parts for sale. There are of course the aftermarket shops and eBay as well.

The PRC solenoids are not hard to find. And, my experience is that these cars do not run well on regular fuel; even the midrange 89 octane causes valve detonation, despite having the fuel selector switch on “Regular”. They operate best on Premium fuel.

(FYI:There is nothing “beyond mint”. That is the top of the scale. That’s like saying “110%”. This is not possible; there is no such thing as more than 100%.)

As for how much it’s worth, that’s purely subjective. I recently saw a TC on eBay go for just over $5000; it had 42K miles but some slight cosmetic damage. I would suggest that “how much it’s worth” is how much you are willing to pay for it.
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, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#5
(08-09-2019, 02:45 PM)Joeballz Wrote: Where do you guys find aftermarket suspension? Is it possible to convert the prc since it’s not working?
With the exception of the Gillis valve (and a double-DIN stereo/GPS/CD/DVD player), mine is all stock.

You don’t have to be made of $$ to keep it that way; but like John said, it is a challenge. To me, the greater challenge is trying to update the various obsolete parts.
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, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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Mikey97D Offline
Junior Member
#6
Jeff K wrote up a how to on rebuilding the servo or at least un-gumming them up:
https://turbotbird.com/old/faqs/#Program...20Problems
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88 Turbo Coupe Offline
Member
#7
(08-09-2019, 05:28 PM)Mikey97D Wrote: Jeff K wrote up a how to on rebuilding the servo or at least un-gumming them up: 
https://turbotbird.com/old/faqs/#Program...20Problems
I would do this before replacing struts/shocks. Should this not work you can find the solenoids. You can always remove the solenoids and manually change from soft to firm. I think you can unclip the solenoids ( do not remove) and turn them to change the setting from soft to firm as well. If you lower the car you will want it on firm 99% of the time anyway, it will keep the TC from bouncing if you cut the springs, although i recommend getting lowering springs, do not cut them.
88 TC
5 Speed
Custom 2.75" stainless steel mandrel exhaust, cross drilled rotors (KVR), 245 50 ZR Eagle F1 GS-D3 (front & rear). This tire works amazing with the PRC. Wet or Dry! Lowered 1.75 inches
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Jeff K Offline
Administrator
#8
The PRC rotary solenoids are very simple to remove and repair.

Is the FIRM light flashing any codes?
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.
05 Taurus SEL Duratec daily driver
04 Taurus Duratec (wifes car)
02 Pontiac Grand Prix GT
95 Taurus GL Vulcan winter beater
67 Honda 450 Super Sport - completely customized
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