The late 1980s Ford Thunderbirds are sorely underrated outside of NASCAR fans. Why is that? The roundy-round folks know why this car rules: 212.809 miles per hour at Talladega Speedway in 1987. Yes, it was a full-tilt race machine, but Bill Elliott turned the Thunderbird into a legend. Outside of a pair of gold mid-1980s examples running around town, though, seeing any Fox Thunderbird out and about is pretty rare anymore. And that’s a shame…between the versatility of the Fox platform, the unique history of the Thunderbird, it’s honestly handsome styling, and the fact that it’s not another Mustang, you’d think you would see more of them.
Well, maybe there is something that can be done about that. You see, in stock form, a Fox-Bird isn’t that spectacular. No, not even in Turbo Coupe form. But this 1988 Thunderbird…well, this is spectacular. It’s a former Trans Am GT-1 and IMSA GTO race car. It’s got a steel roof and a stock Thunderbird rear bumper assembly and has headlights and taillights. Outside of that, you have a no-kidding race car. There’s a Ford Cleveland mill and a TopLoader four-gear, a Franklin quick-change rear setup, a 32-gallon fuel cell, a five gallon Moon dry-sump tank, coilovers, a 3-link rear axle with a Watts link, brakes for days, and even body molds for the remainder of the skin, which is fiberglass.
You probably already know what I’m thinking: how close to street-legal is it? It’s over twenty-five years in age, so depending on where you live, you just need the basics: lights, horn, wipers, rear view mirrors, seat belts, DOT tires, mufflers, and an inspection to see if your state will issue a VIN to the car. You aren’t duplicating a Ferrari, but putting a race car T-bird on the street. You know we think it’s worth it, but what about you?