1983 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

“Ford presents a dramatic new balance of form and function.”

The aerodynamic styling of Ford’s 1983 Thunderbird was a breath of fresh air and a huge change from the boxy and unloved eighth-generation 1980-1982 models, though the underlying components were still based on the Fox platform. For 1983, the Thunderbird came in base, Heritage, and Turbo Coupe models.

The $11,790 Turbo Coupe ($27,800 in today’s dollars) used Ford’s 145 bhp port fuel injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder Lima 2.3 liter engine and came with a standard five-speed manual transmission. Other upgrades included the Traction-Lok limited-slip differential, Goodyear Eagle P205/70HR tires on 14-inch cast aluminum wheels, Marchal foglamps, and a sportier interior with analog gauges.

Fuel economy ratings for the Turbo Coupe were 22 city/33 highway by the standards of the day. 0-60 came in around 9 seconds in the 3,140 pound car. The car didn’t just look aerodynamic—the drag coefficient was a very competitive 0.35.

Standard mechanical features on the Turbo Coupe included power steering and power brakes. Inside, all Turbo Coupe buyers got a leather-wrapped steering wheel, articulated seats, and an AM/FM stereo radio. Options included front cornering lamps ($68), tilt steering ($105), power door locks ($172), and a premium sound system ($179).

Reviews were generally good and the newly aerodynamic Thunderbird sold well. After dropping down below 50,000 sales for the 1982 model year with the last of the eighth-generation ‘birds, the ninth generation would not see sales of less than 120,000 per year.

EightiesFordThunderbirdSales

Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track any Thunderbird after 1982. Thunderbird Turbo Coupes only occasionally show up in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds—you do see them more often on eBay Motors. Make mine Silver, please.

1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe

For unclear reasons, this my most popular post on this blog. Because of this, I recently updated it to reflect both changes in my posting style and substantial improvements in available data.

“… the personal flair of a distinctive coupe.”

1987 was the last year for Chevrolet’s Caprice Classic Coupe, with only 3,110 made. Beginning in 1988, the Caprice would soldier on with only the sedan and wagon, as the once very popular big American coupes continued to lose favor.

ChevroletCoupeSales

The standard power team on the Coupe (and Sedan) was the 140 bhp LB4 4.3 liter/262 cubic inch V6 with throttle-body fuel injection paired with a three-speed automatic transmission. Mileage was rated at 18 city/23 highway by the standards of the day (16/22 by modern standards).

Optional power was the 165 bhp LG4 5.0 liter/305 cubic inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor paired with a four-speed automatic transmission (I see what you did there, Chevrolet). In 1987, mileage was rated at 18 city/25 highway (16/23 by 2014 standards). With a 25-gallon fuel tank, you could reasonably expect a comfortable range of about 480 miles—impressive for a 3,600 pound full size car back then. Even with the V8, these cars were not fast—0-60 came in about 10.5 seconds.

Standard equipment for the $11,392 Coupe (about $25,300 in today’s dollars) included power steering, power brakes, halogen headlights, and all-season radial tires. Inside, a cloth bench seat, Quiet Sound Group, and an AM radio were standard.

Optional equipment included air conditioning ($775), cruise control, power door locks, power windows, power seats, power trunk opener, a 50/50 split-front seat, and AM/FM stereo cassette with graphic equalizer.

1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Coupe, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

I have fun sometimes (often?) building a “unicorn” configuration for these old cars. When I was working at the local Chevrolet dealership in the mid eighties, I dreamed up a “Caprice S.” Here’s what optional equipment it would have required, all still available in 1987:

  • F41 Sport Suspension (includes rear stabilizer bar, 15-inch by 7-inch wheels, sportier shock absorbers)
  • LG4 5.0 liter V8
  • P225/70R-15 tires
  • Sport wheel covers
  • Limited slip differential
  • Performance axle ratio
  • Heavy duty cooling
  • Dual power Sport mirrors
  • Special instrumentation/gauge package

So, a “John-configured” Coupe would have listed for at least $15,096—real money in 1987 and about $33,600 in 2017 dollars. A desperate product planner might have tried to get the leather seats from the Brougham available in the Coupe and maybe scored some blackwall tires, but that’s another story …

These big and (I think) handsome Coupes show up occasionally in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors, though Hagerty’s valuation tools do not track Caprice Classic values past 1975. As I write this in August 2017, there’s a Light Brown Metallic/Medium Brown Metallic two-tone 1985 Coupe with Saddle velour seats and 60,000 miles for sale on eBay Motors with a starting bid of $8,500. Make mine Silver Metallic, please, though I’m tempted by the Black/Medium Gray Metallic Two-Tone.

Another Caprice that I’ve written about is the 1985 Caprice Classic station wagon.

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