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Topic: 88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures) (Read 636 times) previous topic - next topic

88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

tl;dr: Idiot teenager enters the magical world of Turbo Coupes through a junky 88.
I've been drooling over Fox body Cougars and Thunderbirds my entire life, as they were always around growing up. Because my dad has been tinkering with his Turbo swapped 86 Cougar (Loaded87IROC) for as long as I can remember, I knew it was only a matter of time before I ended up with one of these cars. The opportunity presented itself in the form of Lodemia's for sale ad, which was promising for a few reasons to me. I had never seen a leather interior car in person, a functional Graphic Equalizer, or a functional keyless entry system. The fact that it was an automatic was something that I could overlook in the short term, to be remedied later. It was no secret in the house that I was looking for a project vehicle to tinker with, so my parents agreed to bid on the car for me. Fast forward about a week, and I watched a storage door roll open to reveal a derelict Turbo Coupe peeking out.
Though dusty, I instantly knew that I was in for a good time. Since the car didn't run, we pulled it onto the U-Haul trailer using a Harbor Freight winch ratchet strapped to the bumper of our Suburban, and brought it back on the long journey from rural Illinois to Ohio.
We bolted our $30 winch into holes we had drilled and threaded in the garage floor, and yanked the heavy T-Bird up our perilously steep driveway. After taking account of everything inside the car and the engine bay, we rolled it out of the garage just far enough to hose it off and see how it looked underneath.
The exterior looked far better than I had hoped for looking at the advertisement. Satisfied, we rolled it back into the garage, where it would stay for a great many months. I don't think I can fathom a car that had as many wiring issues as this Turbo Coupe. All of the wiring for the engine and the interior had been disconnected, mangled, de-loomed, or otherwise messed with. So began the labelling of every wire, inside and out. For a great long while, the interior of the car looked something like this.
After several months of tedious wiring work and engine reassembly, the car was ready to be put back together. I applied a quick coat of paint to the dash, as it had been badly painted, and after several attempts at stuffing the de-loomed wiring where it needed to be, I was able to start connecting things properly. We managed to source a Premium Sound radio from the Junkyard by chance, and my dad wired up one of his coveted Trip Minders for me. The aftermarket stereo was badly spliced into the wiring, but it wasn't too difficult to get what we needed for the radio. For the first time, I experienced the joy of 80's sound control through the cheapest speakers imaginable.

The first day I drove the car, my good friend Drey and I took it to get inspected for registration. The A4LD is a garbage transmission, and every shift seemed like the car's last. My turbo made hardly any boost (according to the gauge) and the engine promptly popped a valve spring in under an hour. Not knowing that yet, we managed to limp home on 3 cylinders. Hoping it was a fluke, we put the car back together. After it popped a different valve spring, a set of Comp valve springs was installed, along with a Stinger manual boost controller. In addition, I installed an A-Pillar gauge pod with from an SN-95 Mustang, and a GlowShift boost gauge. It turned out that the wastegate was broken, along with my factory boost gauge, and I had been pumping 22 PSI through my IHI the entire time. Whoops. When we swapped the spare IHI from the donor TurboCoupe we had years back, my boost issues were remedied. Unfortunately, I had some trouble with my E6, and had no studs for any of the spare E6s laying around, so I had to resort to using an E3 manifold. After the car was back on the road, it popped a fuel line off on the way to school early one morning.
AAA towed it home, and I reinstalled the line with a proper clip. At this point, the car was running great, albeit slower than expected. It had taken ten full months to get the car to that point. I drove the car around for a few months after that, taking it to prom, graduation, and on every outing possible. The transmission truly was the limiting factor, and I felt it grow weaker by the day. When it finally bit the dust in late May, I began ordering the parts needed to convert it to the T5 I also purchased from Lodemia in Illinois. We got as far as we could in the summer, but a T5 swap is no laughing matter. In the end, the car was driving with its T5 over winter break, just over a year and a half since I rescued it from storage. I intend to do a lot more with my Thunderbird in the near future, and when I go back home for Spring Break I'll have a lot more photos to post. I couldn't have made any of this car possible without the help I had along the way. Special thanks to my dad and my best friend, Drey, always being there to help wrench on this pile of junk. Also, huge thanks to 88BoostedBird for taking time out of his busy schedule to port my E6 (it'll be on soon!). However, there are far too many people to thank in this community. Everyone I've spoken to or witnessed interactions with has reinforced my passion for these cars. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. Here's a few more photos.

88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

Reply #1
Good lookin ride. Nice work on the resurrection, wiring, and the factory stereo reinstall.  It's sometimes a fair bit of work to bring an 80's car back to driver status, but worth it if you can see it thru. Good save.

88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

Reply #2
very nice work!

88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

Reply #3
Nice job, youngin'!

Keep at it. What you see in your mind of the goal, and actually getting to that point are often not so far apart in in actual time spent..
'84, '87 Mustangs
'98 Explorer 5.0
'06 Explorer EB 4.6
'11 Expedition EL

88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

Reply #4
Car came together pretty damn nicely. I've only seen a few cellphone pictures up until now.

I've known your dad since you were probably 5 years old. How time flies.
It's Gumby's fault.


88 Turbo Coupe Journey (Long, boring, Pictures)

Reply #5
Yep, that's my kid. 

He's actually a third generation Fox Thunderbird/Cougar driver.  His grandpa bought an 86 Cougar back in 1988 which later became my wife's first car.  We bought our current 86 Cougar back in 1999 to replace my wife's first car since it had seen better days.  We used to tell him he was born in the Cougar since it's what we drove to the hospital when my wife was in labor.

Also big thanks to Shawn for that final piece we needed for the 5 speed conversion, the steering column grommet with the mount for the clutch master cylinder.  I think we've known each other since around 2001 or 2002, so he would have been around 3 years old, lol.  We're getting old.

Here's the turbofords hanging out in the garage together...

1986 Mercury Cougar - 2.3T/T5 swap, TC brakes and suspension and rearend, 3" exhaust, 255 lph fuel pump, Stinger BOV, Gillis MBC @ 18 psi
2003 Chevy Suburban Z71 - Daily driver
2015 Chevy Volt - Wife's daily driver