Sly Fox: 1980 Ford Thunderbird Street Machine – $13,000

Nov 2020 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

While the Fox Body Mustang continues to attract a large legion of followers driving heavily modified cars, it can be a bit challenging standing out from the crowd with your build.  We’re always attracted to street machines that challenge the status quo and that’s why we love this 1980 Fox Body Ford Thunderbird street machine just listed over the weekend here on Craigslist in Newmanstown, Pennsylvania with a built 302 cubic inch small block and a number of other performance goodies listed below for $13,000.   While this asking price is well above the Collector Car Market Review Online Tool’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $7,900, the premium asked here is for all of the upgrades completed dating back nearly thirty years.  If you are serious about buying this Fox-Bodied Thunderbird, you can start the conversation by either calling or texting David at (484) 695-0929.  When you do, please remember to mention you saw his T-Bird featured here on GuysWithRides.com

For 1980, Ford downsized the eighth-generation Thunderbird onto the Ford Fox platform in the interest of improved fuel efficiency and emissions compliance. Compared to the very popular previous Torino-based Thunderbird, this new T-Bird lost nearly six inches of wheelbase and nearly a foot-and-a-half of overall length. The squarish styling seen in the previous generation of the Thunderbird was favored for the new model, but now utilizing a smaller car platform. Frameless door glass was no longer used; a chrome metal frame was used instead, making the car look more like a two-door sedan. Combined with the poor performing 255 cubic inch Windsor V8 as a base engine, and a C5 three-speed automatic transmission with 2.26 rear gears, this Malaise era Thunderbird generation was not well received by the public. The available 5.0 L Windsor V8 with the AOD automatic overdrive transmission, coupled with a 3.45 rear end gear, was an alternative to the 255, but with only 131 horsepower, the performance was only moderately better from the factory.  At 288,638 examples produced between 1980 and 1982, the eighth generation of the Thunderbird was barely more successful than the final model year of the previous Thunderbird generation.

The YouTube Channel Old Car Memories provides a nice overview of the eighth generation of Thunderbird:

Other than what appears to be a riveted-on hood scoop and the nineties vintage aftermarket wheels, there’s a lot to like about this Thunderbird the builder and caretaker dating back to the 1990s has completed on his build that is detailed below.  If you dare to be different but want the fun of tinkering with a Fox-Body era Ford, this may be a great alternative for you. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s detailed description:

“I’ve owned my 40+ year old FOX body 1980 Thunderbird since the 1990s and have personally put quite a lot of performance work into it, probably over 1,500 hours of my time I’m sure. This is an opportunity to own a Fox body Ford that’s different then everyone else. Its a nice looking driver but not a show car.

The car started as a base model Thunderbird coupe with many modifications. The original vinyl top and body trim was removed and replaced with the optional trim package offered from 80-82, I also added a set of Cougar XR7 quarter window louvers and added a Harwood Hood Scoop.

The rear axles are a 28 spline 5 lug conversion. The original 7.5″ rear was replaced with a Fox Mustang 8.8 rear (91′ if I remember correctly) Trac-lok w/ Ford Racing 3.73 gears, with airlift 1000 bags and upgraded heavy-duty coil springs.

The wheels were plus-sized from 14 up to 15″ rims. The BF Goodrich tires only have about 5k on them. It has 215/70/R15 tires upfront and 275/60/R15 tires in the back. The brakes/spindles were changed to 5-lug 87-93 Mustang upfront. I also removed the factory alignment and installed SVE brand SVE7989cc adjustable Mustang Caster/Camber plates and 5.0 Koni STR. front gas struts.

The 9″ original rear drum brakes were swapped to (Aerostar conversion) 10″ for better stopping power. The brake master cylinder was changed to a larger 1″ Mark VII bore and a new 5.0 brake booster was installed this fall. A brake vacuum reservoir can was also added this year to aid with extra pumps to the brake at lower engine vacuum.

The engine is not a 5.0, it is a remanufactured 302 engine that was in the car when I became owner. I believe the short block has about 50k on it (302 2-piece rear main 1978 Lincoln Versailles block which is stamped “A3A” so its supposed to have the big Mexican caps and sometimes referred to as Hipo mains). This fall I replaced/upgraded to a driver’s side Lokar screw-in dipstick and Mustang 302 oil pan and installed a Mellon oil pump and pickup. At the same time, I replaced the harmonic balancer with a new Pioneer balancer. I also installed a set of Energy Suspension poly engine mounts and transmission mount. Since I did the work I’m not getting any pan drips under the car.

The heads are ported and polished 69′ 58cc 302 heads which had been cut to a compression ratio of approximately 56.4cc. 1.78″ intake and 1.46″ exhaust with undercut valve stems. The heads have hardened SBI brand valve seats and are tapped for screw-in studs with roller tip rocker arms. The cam is a 218/228 with .471-lift, 110 lobe center

The exhaust is 1-5/8″ primaries Flow tech headers, which run through a set of “Purple Hornies” glass packs which exit through mandrel bent 2.25″ pipes ending with 3″ stainless steel tips that I added this spring. The exhaust is a little loud but not overly obnoxious enough to attract the sound police.

The ignition was serviced this year and I replaced the mechanical distributor I had in it with a new MSD vacuum Pro-billet distributer. I also had the MSD 6 box rebuilt by Holly last fall and added a new MSD Street Blaster SS coil.

The radiator was upgraded to a Mustang 3 row radiator and I did a 2 speed Ford Taurus fan conversion last year, wired in with an on-off switch relay, BMW fan switch, and Volvo conversion controllers. There is an on-off fan switch on the dash to temporally cut the fan off during hot starts (like at the gas station) which could drop voltage. I also upgrade the alternator to a high power PWM 140amp model.

The starter was upgraded to a high torque PGRM starter from DB Electrical. The battery was replaced last year and upgraded to a performance Optima 800CCA battery for easier more reliable starting.

I upgraded the factory dual headlamps this past year to good quality aftermarket LED sealed headlamps which are DOT compliant and offer an unbelievable improvement for nighttime driving. Driving in the dark went from kind of scary to very enjoyable. I also replaced the reverse back up lamps with LEDs so you can really see what’s behind when backing up.

The transmission was pulled this summer and I installed a Transgo 40-2 shift reprogramming improver kit and a TCI flex plate and a TCI Breakaway torque converter. I also replaced seals and the pump and tail shaft bushings and seals. I also upgraded to a Ford “H” servo and a Lokar kick down cable. The transmission is set up with a B&M Megashifter that I countersank into the floor and center council (pulled from a mid 80s LTD-LX). A temperature gauge was added to the deeper Trick Flow aluminum transmission pan to monitor average transmission temps. I also upgrade the hard exit and return transmission cooler lines to stainless steel and installed a B&M 70266 stacked plate transmission cooler earlier this year to keep the transmission running nice and cool.

The interior has a new headliner and bucket seats out of a 1982 Mercury Zephyr (which are pretty close to the factory T-bird buckets. The car originally had a bench seat. I incorporated the driver’s power seat controller from the luxury option seat so it is very adjustable. This fall, I finally decided to add an extinguisher to the interior, just in case. You can see that I removed the original digital speedometer and gauges to replaced the speedometer with a 140mph speedometer removed from an LTD police car and a tachometer from an LTD LX. (Ford was reusing many parts on the Fox body cars from 80-85 or so.) I added a few necessary gauges for proper engine monitoring. The steering wheel is a factory Mustang Sport wheel.

The radio is an older aftermarket Alpine FM/AM with single CD. It has decent sound overall but could use new front speakers.

I replaced the door weather stripping in 2018 and a new trunk seal this summer.

After blowing two heater cores in less than a year, I made a nice-looking access door on the firewall which allows the heater core to be swapped in less that an hour vs the many hours of previously having to pull out the whole dash assembly. In my opinion its a huge improvement over the factory design. A line restrictor was added to the pressure side coming off the manifold.

The manifold is a Edelbrock RPM air gap with a Edelbrock 600cfm electric choke carburetor which has been rebuilt and re-jetted and tuned to better match the set up. The water pump was upgraded to an aftermarket aluminum pump. The fuel pump is a rebuildable Carter mechanical pump. Its plumbed through a fuel pressure regulator. The engine runs well on 90 octane based on the compression and timing. I tried to mostly run it on pure gasoline.

The factory A/C system was removed many years ago. I was going to upgrade and replace it, so I have some parts for someone interested in perusing it but never got to it.

For many years I’ve been driving the car less than 5,000 miles per year, so yearly PA state inspection is always considered emissions exempt for me. Be aware of this depending on your future intentions are and where you live. The PCV system is functional but beyond that there are no emissions or cats on the car. That stuff found its way into a dumpster many years ago. I just had it inspected in September 2020 and everything works as it should. I’ve had the car primarily garaged in recent years and its still in garaged at the time of making this ad.

I have a lot of paperwork ,receipts and notes for this project that I have been working on for almost 25 years. This is just a little about the car, I did a lot and have quite a bit of money invested.

$13,000 cash only or possibly a FACE TO FACE official bank check that can be verified and cashed by me before transfer of ownership is made.

Attn: All low life scammers…Don’t even think I will consider some shady nonsense to send me payment, I’ll just delete and block you.

You can call, email or text me for more information.

What would you do to put your mark on this custom T-Bird?  Comment below and let us know!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.