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.

1986 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe 2.3 turbo from North America


A stylish, reliable auto


I have replaced the following because of failure:

- Fuel Pump

- Alternator

- Fog lights

- Radio

- Radiator

- Struts

The transmission is sometimes quirky, the passenger side window doesn't go down, and the power antenna doesn't work.

The head gasket seems to be leaking a bit.

The steering rack needs to be replaced.

General Comments:

I love this car! Nice interior, decent performance, and great styling.

The seats are very comfortable on long trips.

It's starting to get a bit rusty, but that's probably a result of many Minnesota winters.

Overall, despite having almost 200,000 miles, it's running strong!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd May, 2001

30th May 2001, 08:57

I purchased my 1986 Turbo Coupe with a 5 speed in November of 1985 as a new vehicle. Now have 229,000 miles on car. I was notorious for trading cars. Love this car. Check turbo light just came on. Any ideas?


26th Jan 2003, 02:21

I personally have two `86` turbo-coupes and I love everything about them, they handle great, run great, look great, and are great on gas.

I just wish that there would be some after market parts for my turbo-coupe.

19th Feb 2006, 15:33

I also have a 86 Turbo Coupe and it's my 3rd one and this one only has 35,000 original miles on it as of february of 06. It is one of the most comfortable,dependable and great looking car on the road today. I think that Ford has done a great job on this car. It is better looking than most of the foreign crap that's out there today. And you won't see a Honda or a Toyota on the road on 20 years that is more reliable than a Ford!!! Gary Palm Beach Florida.

4th Sep 2006, 17:47

I got my '86 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe as my second car for Christmas of 2005. It has the 5 speed tranny and a posi rear end! My passenger window motor doesn't work, clutch is going out, and that's about all that is wrong with it. It has 135,000 miles on it and it is two-tone, purple on top and silver on the bottom. Can easily hit 120mph in 4th gear... This car does GREAT donuts!!! Best 4 cylinder car from the 80's.

1986 Ford Thunderbird Elan 302 V-8 from North America


Surprising comfort and performance. A delight to own


Alternator, ignition module. The hardest thing about owning an older car is praying it wouldn't breakdown during the rush hour stop and go. Being a motor club member is a must!

General Comments:

Surprising comfort and performance. Not much horsepower, (stock, only 150hp for a 5.0, that will shortly be remedied) but the torque is nice.(270 @ 2000 rpm).

Being in the heart of Silicon Valley, older cars are harder and harder to find. I mean Porches and BMW's have a waiting list! And, the new front-drive sedans all look alike. I feel proud to own this historic older car with it's non-offending muscular looks and power. But most of all, no more huge new car payments!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd August, 2000

3rd Mar 2006, 22:06

What are you going to do to increase the horsepower?

1986 Ford Thunderbird 302 V8 from North America

General Comments:

I LOVE my Thunderbird. Being 13 years old, with nearly 100,000 miles, it's not the most reliable, but I haven't found another car yet that I enjoy driving as much as my Thunderbird.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th October, 1999