I typically don't get to be self indulgent and write about my cars. This not being a feature, I can be a little selfish and tell some of my personal fox history. I turned 16 in 1993, as the last of the foxes were being sold off to make room for the '94. Me being so young, and the cars being new, no way in hell I could afford one. I had to settle for a white '83 Crown Victoria. My "Vic" did have a 5.0, however. A weakling of a CFI, flat tappet, cast iron manifold, 302. I threw some 5.0 badges on it, had the local muffler shop cut the muffler (yes, singular), and was content to have a car. I drove my land barge for about a year and a half; it never missed a beat.
In late '94 I was still foxless, but fed my addiction by going to car lots and test driving them. After while the dealers would get wise to my plan, and I quickly ran out of willing salesman. Realizing there was no way I was going to be able to afford a Mustang, I had to get creative. Driving home from work one afternoon I spotted a light blue '87 Thunderbird on a local lot. I swung in for a closer look. Up until that point, I thought only the Turbo Coupe birds were worth consideration. When the salesman opened the hood, a fuelie 5.0 stared back at me. No its wasn't an HO, but I didn't care. It was a sport model with the floor shifter, and I was sold.
The car really was a complete turd. Heavier, and with quite a bit less power than a Mustang. I didn't care! My first mod was a set of yellow Accel plug wires from Auto Zone, and a used K&N panel filter. I was rolling! I worked all of the overtime I could get to pour cash into the car. A friend of mine who worked at an exhaust shop told me they had a used h-pipe off of a customer's Mustang, and he would hook me up. I wasted no time getting down to the shop and getting the h-pipe installed, but I didn't have the money for duals out the back, so I had to run dumps. I was sure I had picked up 100 horsepower!
Not long after that I found a '88 TC with a blown turbo, and scored the whole car for $200. I also had a friend whose neighbor had a wrecked '88 Mustang GT, whom he had scored the engine from. He told me the whole T5 setup was still in the car, and could be had cheap. The GT was in knee high grass, and was pretty well sunk in the dirt. I spent an entire day with less than adequate tools, to get all of the parts off of the car. Long story short, I now had a complete T5 swap.
My plan was to do the T5 swap, and swap in the disk brake 8.8 from the TC, which would also give me 3.55 gears. The problem was I didn't have crap for tools, and nowhere to work on the car. What to do? A guy that worked at Sandy's 4X4 in Augusta GA, who was also a foxbody guy, hit me up for a deal. He wanted the TC body and the 8.8 rear. We struck a deal that he would do the T5 swap, and install a 4.10 gear in my 7.5 rear end, in exchange for the TC. Just like that, I had a 5.0/T5 Thunderbird (with duals). I remember the night before my car went to the shop, I hit the strip in Augusta GA. with all of my parts in the trunk, just to show everyone I was really going to have a five speed.
Now that my bird was "fast", It had to look the part. Nothing but a set of Weld draglites 3's & 8's would do. My plan was to buy one wheel with every paycheck, and I would be in business. While I was saving my pennies for the Welds, the old bird rode on a set of pony wheels, with used Goodyear Eagle GSCs that I had scored from a used tire shop. Three months later was that fateful day when I was able to bolt on my Welds for the first time. I had arrived. I drove the car like that for quite a while, adding other mods like stock Mustang shorties to replace the cast iron manifolds, an off-road h-pipe, and a set of two chamber flowmasters.
In mid '98, a friend who drove a wrecker told me about a wrecked '88 GT that had sat unclaimed in their impound yard. He needed the transmission, and interior, and I needed the engine. We went in together and bought the car from his boss, and it was time for my H.O swap. Because I worked full time, and was in college full time, I had very little time to work on the car. We decided to pull an all nighter, to swap the engine in my bird. In less than ten hours, we yanked my non HO engine, and dropped in the Mustang engine. Everything plugged up like it was supposed to be there (gotta love the fox chassis). The car fired on the first twist, and I was in a foxbody utopia. The funny part is, I had forgotten to swap the PCM, and wondered why the car was running so bad. After a quick PCM swap, it ran PERFECT. I went home and slept for a few hours, but I had to get the car out and see how it would run. Less than a block from my house, I attempted to launch the car, and spit the ring gear out of the diff cover. There is a reason Ford used the 8.8 rear. Back to the donor car I went, and grabbed the 8.8 out of the car. While it bolted in just fine, the Mustang has a shorter track width, and the wheels were sunk in about half an inch. Oh well, it's not gonna break.
I truly wish I had kept that car, I moved on to a '89 GT later that year, and the bird was put on the back burner as I finally had a Mustang. I ended up parting the car out to buy parts for my Mustang, and still kick myself for it. I mean, it was my first fox. In trying to keep the story as short as possible, a few details on the story had to be omitted. I sold the car to my best friend in '98, and later purchased it back in '99. He affectionately named the car "Rolling Thunder". I could write on and on about this car, but in order to not put anyone to sleep, I will close here. CR