1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe 2.3 turbo from North America


Alternator caught fire (fortunately I had some left over soda to put it out)

A/C Compressor sounds like it has marbles in it.

Right now it has a bucking problem that I can't figure out (maybe ignition signal/wiring)

Passenger power seat does not go forward.

Driver's side window fell out of the plastic channel that holds it (fixed with adhesive)

Power steering rack leaks.

Power steering pump whines.

Replaced rotors (pulsating) and they lasted about 2 months. Got new better quality ones and they have been good for about a year so far (Order Mustang rotors and transfer the antilock ring--they're $50 instead of $150)

Replaced '87 EEC with one from an '88--it lets the turbo go to full boost in all gears (87 limits it after second gear, although I don't know how the EEC knows what gear you're in)

Drive shaft has a slight vibration at 75MPH--output shaft bushing worn--notorious in T-5's.

Sunroof seal is bad--dealer wants $150 for a new one...

General Comments:

I've had a good amount of problems with the car, but it is 16 years old.

Nothing I had to repair cost too much--that's why I keep it.

It performs very well for what it is, and mechanically, it's a very strong car.

The 8.8" rear would hold up to a small block someday :)

In my opinion, this is a great car for those who like to tinker around--they are getting kind of old to be considered maintenance free.. I know a few people who have over 200k miles and they're still running fine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 3rd December, 2003

1987 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe 2.3 turbo Intercooled from North America


A great bang for the buck. Daily driver as well as weekend warrior


I replaced the battery, alternator, thermostat, and heater core due to failure.

I replaced the plugs, wires, cap and rotor as maintenance items. Also added a K&N air filter for a little performance upgrade with a maintenance item.

I replaced the Transmission, not because it failed, but because the 5th gear sync was going.

I have a new fuel pump waiting to go in, as I anticipate failure.

General Comments:

This car is extremely fun, and has excellent millage range, due to its small displacement. As long as you keep the fuel regulator switch on regular during every day driving, and keep your foot out of it, this car has great fuel economy. Particularly when compared with V8 versions of the same year, (which had less power, might I add).

The programmed ride control is a great asset in this car, as it keeps the car quite flat and under control when in the curves. The only problem I noticed in the handling department was a small amount of under-steer while powering through a turn. Though this may have been due to poor alignment at the time.

The power-train is solid. The hydraulic clutch is a trick to get used to, but becomes an asset after you master it. The 3.55 positive traction rear end makes 3G launches quite easy to stick. This has helped me very much, and so far I've yet to be beat. The spool surge is awesome. Though the 10psi limiting on the '87 model, in 3-5th gear, is a pain. This issue was dealt with in '88 however, so if you can find one of the later model engine control module you'll be laughing. The IHI Borg-Warner turbo on the Gen-II TCs are quicker spooling, but handle less boost than the Gen-I Garret T3. Thanks to the addition of an inter-cooler power is still upgraded in the later models.

Most people have no idea about these cars, so they can be found fairly cheap. Easy to modify, too.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 11th October, 2003

15th Apr 2004, 08:15

The tc. still lives and always will, very nice statement I agree 100%

16th Jul 2005, 22:56

The fuel switch is just a boost controller. In regular fuel position it allows the full boost pressure to go to the waste gate so it only allows 9 psi of boost. When the switch is set to premium fuel it keeps pressure from reaching the waste gate until 15 psi.

Brian Wright.


6th Aug 2010, 01:15

The fuel limiting switch is not just a boost controller, it also limits timing to reduce the power and chance of detonation. Two very good resources for these cars are www.turboford.org and www.turbotbird.com.

6th Aug 2010, 16:19

"Particularly when compared with V8 versions of the same year, (which had less power, might I add)."

I am pretty sure the 5.0 had around 200 HP compared to your 190, and I know the torque on that 5.0 was way more than your 2.3 puts out. I had an '88 LX 5.0 and raced my cousins Turbo Coupe... well it wasn't really a race as much as me counting how many seconds until he disappeared in my rearview mirror. It was about 15 seconds. Of course, I had 225 HP and 300 lb. ft. of torque, so no 2.3 turbo was going to be much of a match up for me.

12th Jan 2011, 19:08

I wouldn't say that a 2.3 cannot beat a 5.0, because I've seen some guys put in a front mount intercooler and a manual boost controller, and make 225 to 265 hp, depending on octane, so watch out.

13th Jan 2011, 11:30

You are now talking a modified engine, so there is no longer an accurate comparison. I could throw a supercharger on a 5.0, and you still wouldn't have a prayer.

Plus, to modify one of these old 2.3 liter engines is taking a huge chance, as they weren't very reliable, putting out the 190 or so HP they came stock with.

10th Feb 2012, 15:11

If your 87 5.0 Thunderbird is making 200 HP, it is not stock at all, seeing as they came from the factory with only 150 HP.

11th Feb 2012, 10:17

Actually, with the manual tranny it was 190 hp.