1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe from North America - Comments

13th Nov 2007, 11:45

Excuse me, does anyone know if the 2.3 in these was a turbocharged version of the 2.3 found in Tempos, or was it the German 2.3 turbo found in Merkurs?

I had an 85 turbo coupe that was really nice, other than being an automatic, but a friend had a Merkur XR4ti, and it was sooooooo much nicer.

13th Nov 2007, 17:27

When I was in the Army, a buddy of mine had one of these cars. It was my first introduction to a turbocharged 4-cylinder in a full size car, and I was quite impressed, even with being into V-8's at the time. Nice car.

18th May 2008, 23:53

In case someone reads this review, I would like to correct the following misinformation:

The 2.3l four cyl motor used in the turbocoupe was NOT the same one that were used in the Tempo; not even close.

Google "2.3 HSC" and "2.3 Pinto" for the explanations and differences.

9th Sep 2008, 20:57

I have a Merkur XR4Ti, it has the 2.3 Turbo engine, very nice and quick!

29th Sep 2008, 03:02

The turbo coupe engine compared to the Mustang, Ranger, and Tempo engine was different in a few ways. One was the block is supposed to have a higher nickel content making it stronger. The combustion chamber is a little differently shaped in the head to help with detonation. I also believe the injectors are a lot bigger. I have a 88 turbo coupe that I purchased for 600 bucks with some major mechanical issues. After fixing the real expensive ones and getting it on the road, it wasn't hard to see that I'd made a wise decision. I LOVE this car.

19th Dec 2008, 10:41

I have a 87 TC and I love the car. I'm not even a Ford fan, but when I moved, this is my first turbo car and the engines are based around the 84-86 Mustang SVO's, but they lack about 30-40 overall HP.

My step dad has a 86 SVO and my 87 is a hell of a lot better than his 86. It looks smoother and cleaner in design; there is more passenger space for a DD and it doesn't look squashed.

30th Aug 2009, 02:38

OK, so if you're looking at buying one of these cars, and don't know what it is you are missing out.

I owned one. My buddy's dad gave me in high school and absolutely loved it. Handles like a dream, and I mean crazy corners at crazy speeds. And the turbo in the one I had as a kid was shot.

They are quite fast when running properly, I currently have 2 5.0 Capri RSs and a 351 5.8 Capri, and they aren't terribly faster if any than a hopped up 2.3 turbo.

With that being said, my dad sold my boyhood TC and I cried, LOL. So for 10 years now I've been looking for one in good shape I could afford. I finally found one that looked MINT (had been stored for 12 years) and ran great on my test drive. So I got it towed home and put some rims an brakes on it. Went and filled it with premium as they love it. Then things started going wrong (car was starting to overheat, bogges out when the turbo hit) So... I had to buy a code reader. something new to a Small Block Ford guy.

Well I soon learned that there are all sorts of sensors that go bad such as: TPS (Throttle Position Sensor, needs to be set to .90v closed throttle and about 4.50 to 4.75 wide open throttle) VAM (Vane Air Flow Meter), and also the ICM (integrated control module on the right shock tower. this module contains the EEC, fuel pump, cooling fan and A/C relays) MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure), ECT (Engine Coolant temperature) there are many many more.

As you can guess, ALL of these can effect your cars performance drastically, and all needed to be replaced in my current Turbo Coupe.

If you are not mechanically inclined or don't have a bunch of money to spend, they are not a car for you.

If purchasing one, make sure you can take it for a long test drive and watch for check engine light blinking, temperature gauge, firm light blinking, ABS brake light blinking (parts are hard to find), Check for white bubbles in the oil after car has sufficiently warmed up. If there are, it needs a head gasket.

These cars apparently TEAR through ignition parts (plugs, plug wires, cap and rotor etc...) So be prepared those are the easy fixes and still require the intercooler to be removed (a couple of clamps, really isn't that bad, but be careful with the rubbers, air leaks are killer on these cars).

Let this be said, they are great cars, but my current 87 Turbo coupe is a money pit.

I paid 1500 and have put about 400 in just sensors, another 200 in ignition parts and still don't have her running properly. FUEL PRESSURE Gauge IS A MUST AS WELL.

I have a 82, 83 and 84 5.0L Mustangs, and a 67 Chevy I have built, and my T-bird is the most complicated by far.

I WOULD STILL TAKE A MINT TURBO COUPE OVER ANY 5.0. DRIVE ONE AND YOU WILL KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

It pretty much told me I need to replace all my sensors.

13th Oct 2009, 14:15

Hey there, I wanted to know if I could throw a turbo off a TC on my 90 Ranger 2.3, the twinfire? Would it hold, or I also wanted to know if I could do a whole TC motor swap into my Ranger, if it will fit? If so, what mods would I have to do. E-mail me at spoonerdude89@yahoo.com, thanks ~rob~

4th Nov 2009, 18:14

I bought an '88 TC off a Miami car lot in '92. And since then installed a gen3 alt., P.S. pump, T-5, hipo in-tank fuel pump, Turbonetics T-3/T-4 50 trim, 48 stage3 hot side, and ported the head. It corners like a slotcar and gets an honest 32 mpg highway! Best car I ever owned!

22nd Feb 2010, 23:30

Just purchased one of my dream rides, an 88 turbo Sport Coupe. I've watched and searched, this one fell in my lap. 500 bucks; it's rough, but a couple hundred and a spare engine I got in trade, and I now have a running driving turbo coupe.

My other dream ride was purchased 4 yrs ago; 95 Firebird LT1 6spd, (I love American serious rides).

Wow, what a car, Anyone who can turn a wrench will love this, not as easy as the old standard V8, but twice as nimble when finished.

3rd Apr 2010, 22:49

Yes, you can swap the Turbo Coupe 2.3 into a Ranger. I have performed a couple of these swaps. There are a few things to look out for:

While the engine will bolt up to the Ranger transmission, the Ranger transmission can't stand up to the torque of the TC motor. The TC transmission is a better choice, but it requires custom work, drive shaft, rear mount, shifter, speedo, hydraulic clutch release. (similar for the auto)

The engine computer harness are different. You can re-pin the Ranger harness and add the required wires to match the T-Bird computer. Or you can remove the Ranger harness and graft in the TC harness. Both take patience.

It's easier to mount an intercooler in front of the rad. Look into modifying the intake and turn it 90 degrees to the front.

You're going to want traction bars, you'll have fully double the torque on tap.

As others have pointed out, these engines are hard on ignition parts. (Voltage skyrockets under boost) Stock plugs work well and there are upgraded wires, caps & rotors available.