1986 Ford Thunderbird Coupe 3.8 litre V6 from North America


Classic from the 80's


Replaced the windshield wiper motor.

Replaced the power window motor in the passenger door.

Replaced a blown head gasket, had the heads re-machined to true due to warping caused by an incorrect repair job before I got the car. <--97000 miles.

Replaced the water pump at 104000 miles.

Replaced a voltage regulator twice, then bought a heavy duty one and it's worked fine since.

Replaced the front struts and rear shocks due to age and wear @ 107000 miles.

Replaced the front brake rotors at 111000.

Minor electrical problems, such as the digital speedometer is permanently dimmed all the way.

Paint has not aged as well as I would like, bright red is now reddish orange unless freshly waxed.

General Comments:

Great first car.

The body styling still gets comments as she's clean and has had a recent wax job.

Fun to drive, but the V6 feels low in power. I'd get the V8 in this model if you could find one.

Handles very well for a mid-size coupe.

Hey, my first car - she's my baby and I'll drive her until she won't start anymore.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st December, 2001

1st May 2003, 23:34

Yeah, I have the same problem with the dimmed digital dash. Its annoying, and I need to get it fixed. Either that or maybe I can do a conversions to regular needle gages.

12th May 2008, 23:50

There is a bulb behind the digital display that burns out, its pricey and a bit hard to find but can easily be fixed in an hour or so.

A good time to fix your transmission gear indicator if its broken as well (need a small hose clamp)

1986 Ford Thunderbird 3.8 V6 from North America


A beautiful lawn ornament in hibernation


The car began to have problems with heating as soon as we drove it home. The temperature gauge almost hit the high mark and it blew a freeze plug. We bought an expansion plug and it blew it as well. So far it has blown the freeze plug 4 times.

It has a tendency to cut off during slow speeds which causes me to drive with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake.

We had the exhaust tested and it showed that we had either a cracked head or a head gasket leak.

We have only had the car for three days. The first day it did well. The second day we began fixing the car. The third day it broke down and smoked really bad. It now sits in my front yard and we are steadily tearing the engine down to locate the problem areas.

Needs a new water pump.

The body is in great shape except from one rust hole above the trunk.

General Comments:

I bought my 1986 Thunderbird to replace my 1987 Ford Aero-star Van since the transmission went out. The body is in great shape and looks sharp. It is sporty, and with my personal touches it will soon look even tougher.

Besides having to park the car right after I bought it, the car seems to have won me over already. I hope that the car will win my trust after we breathe life back into it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th August, 2001

23rd Aug 2001, 12:19

OK, I wrote the previous comments on this car. We replaced the heads and it still heats bad so I assume it is the radiator because that is all that is really left.

The car still cuts off on me. I am praying FORD recalls the ignition system in the car. If I bump the steering wheel, tilt it too hard, or turn too sharp, it cuts off. I am afraid I will die in this car.

Today, water spat back into the floorboard of my seat and went all over my foot. Acid reflux in a car?

Either way, if anyone has any info on the recalls FORD has or about this car, PLEASE respond.

I think I got the rotten apple of the bunch...

13th Jan 2002, 03:26

My 86 Bird does the same thing. It's the heater core. It's an expensive repair, but it'll save you from buying new shoes!

12th May 2008, 23:47

To anyone reading this review.

If your car does what is described in OPs previous comment, disconnect the battery immediately or your car may catch on fire!

Replace your ignition switch post haste; it's well documented on various Ford based forums.

21st Jan 2009, 22:46

January 21, 2009 I just bought an '86 Ford Elan Thunder-bird for my son. It drove really well. It has had only 2 owners. My friend who I bought it from has kept it very nice, the only rust is above the trunk... all else is nice. Please tell me this was a good purchase for $600. It has 51K miles on it, very clean good tires and rides like a cruiser... we loved the comfort of the car.

If you have any advice please let me know. I thought it was a great deal for a good work car... He's 18 and want him safe.

8th Feb 2011, 19:47

I own a 1986 Ford Thunderbird, and it's running great. I rebuilt the engine at 145,000 miles due to a blown head gasket. The heater works fine. A/C needed freon around 150k miles.

Good car in my opinion.