jmthunderbirdturbo HalfDork
10/31/19 3:58 a.m.

You guys all pretty much agreed I will always hate this car, and I should let it go to someone else who might like it. So im going to do just that.


1989 LX 2.3L N/A 5MT car (originally).

Swapped in an 85.5 2.3L Turbo motor from a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe with 170k on it. It has a 1987 T-bird TC WCT5 with the taller .81 5th.



1996 ranger roller cam and followers, with FMS indexable timing gear set to -4*.

Water block-off plate to lower intake, coolant temp moved to heater loop. Removed oil cooler, lines, and steel tubing.

Mildly ported/polished upper and lower intakes, port-matched to the head.

E6 exhaust manifold with the same gasket match porting.

84,000 mile IHI turbo, with deleted water jackets.

True 3” stainless downpipe, flex tube, turbo muffler, and mid pipe, into factory style 2.5” stainless dual exhaust, all welded. (Sounds great for a 30 year old tractor motor…)

Small Isuzu NPR inter cooler with 2.25 inch Alloy piping and 3ply couplers with T-bar clamps. Engine inlet air temp threaded into inter cooler exit tank. Has two 8” fans with a controller and manual override.

Ranger radiator with 15” electric fan, custom brackets and hoses.

Engine runs great, smokes a bit on startup if it sits for a few days, I think it needs oil seals on the valves. It does not use oil.

All new seals; head gasket, oil pan, valve cover, intake etc.

New OEM clutch kit with flywheel, TOB etc. New adjustable cable and quadrant.

Converted to rear battery box and later ford mini-starter.


Welded sub-frame connectors with seat bars.

1987 TC World Class T5 with taller .81 5th gear.

1993 LX 5.0 (drum) rear with FMS clutch pack kit.

New driveshaft yoke and new rear end gear flange with new seals.


Newly installed H&R 1.5 drop springs. Front springs are for a GT V8, so I had to cut ¾ coil off of them.

JEGS unbranded rear lower control arms. (Removed for factory arms trying to locate a bad bushing, but they are fine and go with the car.)

New struts, strut mounts, and rear shocks in 2015.


Kenwood stereo (50wx4)

Boss Chaos speakers (6x9”x2 and 5”x2)

Custom rear dash with 3rd brake light delete.

Stereo plate has 3 gauge holes with Boost, AFR, and voltage. (volt gauge is on my bench I need to put it back.)

1986 Turbo Coupe bolstered seats in good shape on stock mustang seat brackets.

Police interceptor style armrest in decent shape.

Heat works, defrost works, etc., just no air. Power windows work, etc.

Custom E-bay steering wheel, that doesn’t have room for the horn button that came with it.

Electronics/Engine management:

Newest version (non-sequential injection) PIMPx MS3 ECU, with tuner studio. This was about $950 all in, but it’s a plug and play setup that runs the engine on speed density, ditching the Vane Air meter/MAF and the factory map sensor. It uses mainly inputs from the AEM wideband, the onboard manifold referenced map sensor, the coolant temp and the air inlet temp. If you’re familiar with Stinger Performance and the work they have done to make this truly plug and play EEC-Iv tuning, then you know what this is. If not, PM me and I can tell you more, or you can look at stingers website.


About the car:

All in all the car runs great. I get about 22 miles per gallon driving mixed roads, and usually keep the boost set to 14 PSI. I have it tuned to 18PSI, but find myself exceeding the speed limit far too often there. It starts up in the coldest weather, and doesn’t knock or ping in even the most oppressive heat. But I should mention there are a few issues with the car.

The paint is awful. It’s a single stage urethane with hardener and it just didn’t come out right. It might polish up better than it is, and the places where its really bad are easy to repair as I have more of the paint, but it just didn’t pop like I’d hoped. plus the rear quarters had some dents that didn't come out right, so there's a bit of work to do there for it to be perfect. 

The floor pans have some rust, especially the driver’s side, but that is truly the only rust in the car.

The passenger rocker panel has been replaced, but not because of rust, but damage. If I don’t point it out, you wouldn’t notice, but I welded the seam to the rear quarter on that side to get the panel in correctly.

The transmission grinds into 2nd gear, it needs a new blocker ring and syncro.

The drum brakes are terrible and while the car stops just fine, it could be FAR better with a disc setup.

That’s about all I can think of. I’ve decided I can sell the car in any configuration you want: Roller or as-is. AS-IS (GRM only) price is $3500, roughly half of what I have in the build, minus the purchase price of the shell. I’d sell the roller for a negotiable $2000 to a GRMer.

Is anyone interested, at all? :D

As i bought it:



AnthonyGS Dork
10/31/19 6:53 a.m.

I'm interested as a potential challenge car for 2020, but 3500 blows the budget.  I have about 1000 in 5.0 parts that are no cost from my 19 challenge project.  Maybe we can work out a cash plus trade thing if you really hate it.  I'd really like to keep my 3.73 disc to disc 31 spline rear for this car but could be talked into including it in a trade.  I was looking at a less expensive turbo 2.3 car but it really is too rusty.

slowbird HalfDork
10/31/19 7:28 a.m.

I think the all-white look is sweet :D I can't buy due to space reasons, but someone totally should.

Javelin MegaDork
10/31/19 9:06 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

I have it on good authority that Jon will highly entertain trades involving a Thunderbird Turbo Coupe or an EcoBoost S550 Mustang...

AWSX1686 SuperDork
10/31/19 9:26 a.m.
AnthonyGS said:

I'm interested as a potential challenge car for 2020, but 3500 blows the budget.  


This, and the fact that I got rid of all my 2.3t stuff for a reason...

AnthonyGS Dork
10/31/19 12:45 p.m.

My SVO is one of a handful of cars I wish I still had.  I rarely have sellers remorse.  My SVO and 94 Miata R top that list.

P3PPY Reader
10/31/19 8:28 p.m.

That’s beautiful

jmthunderbirdturbo HalfDork
11/1/19 12:41 a.m.

i dont have any interest in parts trades, im not building anything, especially 5L powered. im going to take a few years off of building cars and focus on my RV and getting my house in order. 


step #1 is moving on from this car. 


i would consider a trade for a running, driving, reliable appliance, depending on the trade. my other vehicle is a big ford truck and my drive to work is too long to daily it. 


would you be interested in the shell if i parted it out?



SVreX MegaDork
11/1/19 4:50 a.m.

If you part it, I’m interested in the engine. 

jmthunderbirdturbo HalfDork
11/4/19 4:41 a.m.

If you all want to work out a --motor goes to me, car goes to him-- kind of deal, let me know.


I just ordered a new GR starter, and put an optima red top in it. Next repair will be the trans blocker rings, and I'm afraid if i get that far, i may gut the interior and keep it as a 1/4 mile car. 



parallax_ca New Reader
11/15/19 1:30 p.m.

not seeing a price/location??

gord up in ontario canada but looking far and wide for a "stupid fun car"

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