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Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/14 8:51 a.m.

Oh man, I'm overqualified for this one... I've had over 35 TC's from all years (83-88) and some Cougar XR-7's in there, too. At one point I owned one of every color of 87 at the same time. I ended up starting a business that made restoration and performance parts for those. Anyway...

The TC is a great car with a lot of potential. It's a fox-family chassis with a longer wheelbase, wider track, and some suspension arm difference (already mentioned). The stock front brakes on the 83-86 are the 10" standard fox parts and they are inadequate, the 87-88's got the 11". The 83-86 have rear drums, the 87-88 have a hard to get 4-lug disc setup. It's very easy to swap to 5-lug 4-wheel discs though (SN95 Mustang rotors, two left side Ranger rear axles IIRC).

83-84 are essentially identical and the least powerful. They share most of their interior with the 80-82 square Birds. The 83 TC is actually pretty rare and has a lot of 1-year only trim parts and randomness. The 85-86 got the newer interior (carried over to 87-88) and some improvements, including the best turbos (Garret T3 with either a .48 or a .63 A/R hot side). Although they aren't intercooled from the factory, a front mount is easy to add on. The 87-88 are the most advanced and have the updated body, top-mount intercooler, and IHI turbo.

All years have the same hoods and windshields, along with other things like door glass. The 87-88 TC hood is a direct bolt-on to any other year, or the 87-88 5.0 Birds.

The parts that are really hard to come by are the stock 87-88 Ride Control shocks. There's a few NOS sets floating around, but you're better off with a modern good shock anyway. There's a few manufacturers that do the TBird specific rear LCA's and front LCA's, everything else is shared with the Mustang, including the K-Member. The only really TC-specific body parts on the 83-86 are the front bumper cover with Marchal foglights. The 87-88 TC's have unique bumpers with Hella foglights, header panels (nose), inner marker lights, and hoods. It's pretty easy to find all the cosmetics to restore these.

I say get it!

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/14 9:01 a.m.

Oh, and definitely listen to everything Jon has to say! He got into TC's because of ThunderCougarFalconGoat and I, and he also had a business dealing with them. He built what was probably the fastest IHI TC in the world (it's in the Reader's Rides).

Flyin Mikey J
Flyin Mikey J Reader
4/14/14 10:38 a.m.

Great info... I will mos def talk to the guy this week. Hoping that I don't have to wait for my IRS check to put that bad mofo in my driveway.

beans
beans Dork
4/14/14 11:32 a.m.

Do it.

This is my friend's CP bird. Its nasty. He has about 2-3 other 2.3T powered birds, too. http://www.foxtbirdcougarforums.com/showthread.php?29366-The-CP-autox-bird/page43

My other friend, Brian, likes to put them in Rangers ans beat the snot out of everything.

nicksta43
nicksta43 UltraDork
4/14/14 1:51 p.m.

I'm the biggest anti ford guy in the world and even I like these things. If I had any money the one Ojala posted in Dallas would be mine.

JFX001
JFX001 UltraDork
4/14/14 2:03 p.m.

I started liking these in the early 80's when I played tennis and saw a FILA Edition. I almost traded in my '65 Mustang convertible for an '86...but I just couldn't do it.

Flyin Mikey J
Flyin Mikey J Reader
4/14/14 2:03 p.m.

So... my top price looks like $2K. Any less than that and I am all in.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
4/14/14 3:52 p.m.

I love these cars. I used to have two 1987 Cougar XR7's and I always wanted the Turbo Coupe. I actually bought a Turbo Coupe hood for one of my XR7's at one point. Someday, if there's a hole in my fleet and one of these comes along cheap enough, I'm buying one.

I agree with everyone else: get it! If the 2.3L ever blows up, just slap a turbo 5.0L V8 in it's place!

Oh, and thanks for posting a link to that T-Bird/Cougar forum. Now I can relive my high school wrenching days vicariously through others.

Joe Severns
Joe Severns Marketing & PR Director
4/14/14 4:05 p.m.

I owned an '88 TC for a few years about 15-18 years ago. Fell in love with the TC when my father managed a Ford dealership in the eighties. Found one years later in an older lady's front yard, super low miles; white over red with every option but leather. The TC ran like a top - but I wanted more power and built the engine up a bit, changed some parts and worked on airflow as much as I could (I'd tell you exactly what I did to the powertrain but I would be betraying the fellow who purchased it from me, as he still runs it down in Georgia). The TC was fast, had legs for days and was totally easy on the eyes. I wish I would see more of them on the road. Great car with a decent aftermarket. Go for it.

Will
Will SuperDork
4/14/14 4:41 p.m.

I've had a pristine, stripped unibody (not a single part bolted to it) for an 88 TC in storage for almost a decade now. I keep saying I'm going to make it into a racecar someday...

jmthunderbirdturbo
jmthunderbirdturbo Reader
4/14/14 5:52 p.m.

javelin is too kind. it was the SECOND fastest street legal ihi TC in the world. also holds 3 trophys for the carlisle burn out contest... god i miss that car.

anyway....if you do get it, seriously, email or pm me. i can walk you through adding about 80HP for under $500. i even have a formula (mostly javelins) to add about 30HP for under $50.

and to the guy who said drop a 5.0 in its place, hes obviously never driven a proper 2.3T. responsiveness to mods is far better, cost is comparable, economy is no contest, weight is better by about 15-20%, and everyone will walk past a SEA of 5.0's to look at your turbo 4 popper.

i remember getting beat up top by a $100K viper one night at test n tune. we had trackside pits next to each other. about 10 people came over too look at the viper...for about 30 seconds, then they saw he inched out a car that weighed an extra 500 lbs, and had a 4 cylinder. i had people all over the car for the rest of the weekend...

-J0N

Spoolpigeon
Spoolpigeon UltraDork
4/14/14 6:04 p.m.
beans wrote: Do it. This is my friend's CP bird. Its nasty. He has about 2-3 other 2.3T powered birds, too. http://www.foxtbirdcougarforums.com/showthread.php?29366-The-CP-autox-bird/page43 My other friend, Brian, likes to put them in Rangers ans beat the snot out of everything.

That car is amazing. I saw it at Wilmington last year and was blown away by it.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/14/14 7:16 p.m.

In reply to JFX001:

The Fila edition was my first love too, but I think they were all normally aspirated.

I remember these cars being a huge deal when they were introduced.

beans
beans Dork
4/14/14 9:23 p.m.
Spoolpigeon wrote:
beans wrote: Do it. This is my friend's CP bird. Its nasty. He has about 2-3 other 2.3T powered birds, too. http://www.foxtbirdcougarforums.com/showthread.php?29366-The-CP-autox-bird/page43 My other friend, Brian, likes to put them in Rangers ans beat the snot out of everything.
That car is amazing. I saw it at Wilmington last year and was blown away by it.

That he built that out of a pile of E36 M3 is mind blowing; i tell him almost once a week that if i had an ounce of his skill, motivation, and dedication, I'd be 50x the driver/builder I currently am. Ethan's work/driving is amazing.

HappyAndy
HappyAndy SuperDork
4/15/14 6:51 a.m.
Xceler8x wrote: What's the max boost you can run those Birds to? I think the 2.3 4 cylinder can handle some pretty high boost pressures right?

I remember hearing the same thing about the 2.3 when I was looking for one too. It's a very robust engine, the head isn't the greatest, but there are junkyard and aftermarket solutions. The bottom end is supposedly bullet proof.

I remember hearing a funny statement about the 2.3's ability to take boost pressure " Consider the head gasket as the fuse on these engines, keep turning up the boost until it pops, replace it and repeat the process ".

They didn't mention AFRs, don't try that experiment with out watching that too.

A Ford 2.3 turbo Lima is on my bucket list, I'd prefer it in an XR4TI, but a turbo T-Bird would be acceptable too.

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/15/14 7:24 a.m.

More info as it comes back to me. The FILA edition was a sticker/tape job on a base 5.0 Bird, never on a TC. The 83-86 had a 7.5" rear, usually with a 3.47 gear IIRC. The 87-88 TC's all had the 8.8" rear, 3.73 Track Lock in the autos, 3.55 Track Lock in the 5-speeds. The 2.3 bottom end is really good, even has factory forged pistons. Factory head is okay, they all tend to crack between the valves. The head bolts are TTY so throw them away and buy new ones or ARP studs when you do a head gasket (and you will do one).

The 84-86 Cougar XR-7 is a TC with a formal roof and really hard to find, especially an 84. The 87-88 XR7's are just 5.0 cars. The 87-88 TC has unique front and rear swaybars. The gauges are special in the 85-88's as well, though only an 85 MPH speedo (with hashes up to 100 IIRC) but the Ford Motorsports 140MPH speedo drops into the cluster. The 87-88 TC's came over-loaded even in base form (power mirrors, power windows, power driver's seat). A real "loaded" TC will add power passenger seat, cornering lamps in the front fenders, an electronic HVAC system, stereo with a separate EQ, power moonroof, and leather.

The 83-84 TC's were available as actual base models (manual driver's seat, manual windows) and yes, you can bolt the manual tracks for both into an 87-88 for weight loss.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
4/15/14 10:10 a.m.

one fun thing about them is that EVERY modification you can think of seems to work. There's almost no aspect of the engine that's completely optimized by the factory. That has the potential to sound like an insult, but they're reliable enough that it isn't.

the other fun thing about them that could suck but I find endearing, is that some cars drive like an engine with a turbo attached. 2.3t's feel like you're driving a turbo with an engine attached.

KyAllroad
KyAllroad New Reader
4/15/14 10:24 a.m.

Great. Now I want to find a 2.3T and stuff it in a Miata.....

N Sperlo
N Sperlo MegaDork
4/15/14 10:36 a.m.

I've become very familiar with the 2.3 very quickly and I simply love them.

beans
beans Dork
4/15/14 5:55 p.m.

If anyone is interested in Supercoupes, there's a decently clean, very good running 5speed car sitting in my driveway my roommate will let go for Challenge friendly money.

JFX001
JFX001 UltraDork
4/15/14 6:41 p.m.
Woody wrote: In reply to JFX001: The Fila edition was my first love too, but I think they were all normally aspirated. I remember these cars being a huge deal when they were introduced.

Yeah, the FILA's were the ones that made me see that there were other options besides Mustangs and Camaros. We're talking Bjorn Borg here...

Cool stuff in the day.

egnorant
egnorant SuperDork
4/15/14 6:42 p.m.

Only problems I ever had were one stuck injector and rust on the turbo side strut mount. I don't know if the rust was due to the turbo being right next to the sheetmetal or not. Always thought a 2.3 turbo would be a hoot in a Cobra kit car.

Flyin Mikey J
Flyin Mikey J Reader
4/16/14 9:03 a.m.

Talked to the guy, found out its been in the family since new. That raised the price due to sentimental reasons, as it was his late mother's new car back in the day. Then found out that it was to be his nephew's car... got as far as ripping out the stereo and having the engine freshened, before buying a Civic. Surveyed the interior damage, told the guy that could affect the price. Long story short, I think I will be getting the car at the low end of FMV :)

Flyin Mikey J
Flyin Mikey J Reader
4/27/14 11:39 a.m.

Went over yesterday and after an hour's charge on the battery, it fired right up. Oil pressure is great, temps are in check.

But it seems that there are a few more issues, most notably the antilock brake light being on and brakes seem to not work much, along with the parking brake not functioning. I'll jack it up and have a look after work Monday to assess the damages.

The kid also seems to have sanded the upper half of the body... no biggie as I will most likely just give it a new coat of black, but I would rather have had the original paint with whatever patina.

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/27/14 2:22 p.m.

ABS failure is common on these. Replacement parts are available and expensive. Use a 93 Cobra master cylinder to bypass the ABS.

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