The 1983 Ford Thunderbird received a new aerodynamic appearance that was very different than its 1982 sibling. Ford literature described the new appearance as 'Conceived for today with an eye on tomorrow.' Along with visual changes, mechanical changes were also prevalent. The wheelbase was shortened four inches to 104 inches. After vigorous aerodynamic testing, it had a drag coefficient of just 0.35. The base engine was a 232 cubic-inch V-6 mated to a SelectShift three-speed automatic and locking torque converter. An optional fuel-injected 302 V8 with a four-speed overdrive automatic was available. The 4.2-liter V8 and the inline sixe was no longer available, and the Town Landau was also deleted. The only bodystyle was the 2-door hardtop coupe with seating for four occupants. Pricing began at $9,200 and rose to $12,300 for the Heritage edition. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine, displacing 140 cubic-inches, was also available. The engine produced 142 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. This engine was also equipped with Bosch multi-port fuel injection, forged-aluminum pistons, aluminum rocker convers, an oil cooler, and an electronic engine control system.
The exterior design of the Thunderbird included concealed drip moldings, tapered fenders and quarter panels, a raked windshield and backlight, contoured parking lamps, a sloping hood, and integrated decklid spoiler. There were exposed quad rectangular halogen headlamps in recessed housings, along with cornering/marker lenses at the edge of each headlamp housing. The parking lamps sat below the bumper strip. The trim was kept to a minimum.
Standard equipment included the flash-to-pass, variable ratio, and power rack-and-pinion steering. Optional equipment included electric remote outside mirrors, pivoting vent windows in the front, keyless entry, remote locking fuel door, voice alert, clearcoat metallic paint, and a canvas-wrapped emergency kit which contained tools and first aid times.
The Turbo Coupes had special fluted B-pillar molding, Goodyear Eagle blackwall performance tires, aluminum wheels, and two recessed Marchal fog lamps. Inside, the instrument panel was special black and brushed finish, along with a tachometer with boost and over-boost lights. On the console were controls for the dual electric mirrors. The steering wheel and shift knob were leather wrapped. The Lear-Siegler articulated bucket seats had inflatable lumbar support and open-mesh head restraints.
The Heritage model had an illuminated entry, tinted glass, lighted vanity mirrors, premium sound system, and dual bright electric remote-control mirrors. They also came with a digital clock, tilt steering, power locks, bodyside moldings, bumper rub stripe extensions, wire wheel covers, autolamp on/off/delay system, and a special grille ornament. The hood, bodyside and decklid had striping. The seats were velour cloth trim and were given a Thunderbird seatback emblem.
The Thunderbirds sibling was the Mercury Cougar which had a similar design.By Daniel Vaughan | May 2015