Restore question for a 1987 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

Hello All! Round 2!! As I posted this in the incorrect section. (Sorry.....) Thank God for copy/paste.

Quick one. Wife has been looking for one of these classic rides. We found one that is in reasonable shape. Undercarriage from the front wheels back is MINT!.

Sadly that's where the love affair ends.. I'm trying to work with the seller IF this is a possible repair and I can find the parts needed. What might that be?

As expected, the frame rail adjacent to the turbo is pretty well roached. It's patchable however.

The frame rail under the battery all the way back to the rear of the left control arm is Swiss Cheese. Looks like the battery leaked and the sway bar mount is torn free and the steel is blown apart. It's my opinion this can be removed and replaced. But I'm not able to weld (ICD implant)

Local guy that works for a body shop stated they could patch in a complete frame section, I just need to find one in the local yards to cut out and they could splice in for a fee. They do good work, but they won't metal fabricate it. They want a compatible chunk of steel that can be easily welded in.

I'm looking for options at this point. It's the cleanest T-Bird we have found that doesn't need new floors or looks like it was left sitting in a river...

Many Thanks!... And sorry, no photos. Just imagine under the battery looking like rusted hole filled metal for that unibody rail allllllll the way back to the rear. (Under the brake booster looks 100%... Go forward about 5" and it goes to pot.)

Sidenote: We live outside the Syracuse, NY area. Our national past-time is listening to cars rust....

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Okay. I have an almost pristine 87 Turbo for sale. I have spent the last 4 years restoring it. New paint, (black) brakes, suspension, tires, clutch, radiator, turbo charger, fluids, some upholstery (driver's seat bolster and lumbar support), headlights (led replacement and outer plastic housings). Window tinting.
Other things I'm forgetting. Located in Springfield, MO. 12,500.00
 
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Doing this entire project on a budget. The intent was to find a T-Bird that has a good body, but needs mechanical repair. From a mechanical stand point the car isn't bad, but needs a ton of maintenance. We where crestfallen when I noted the sway bar mount tore free from the unibody frame section...and then noted the entire arm was rotted due to a battery leak.

Trying to find a solution that can keep this ol' gal from going into the crusher. So that's the question about what can be modified to work. I did find a Mustang in the local P&P yard that shared a lot of common points with the frame that's bad in ours. But didn't know what years might be compatible. It's not a foxbody however- I was nicely told the last time they had a foxbody Ford in the yard it was stripped clean within a few weeks and only had a shell remaining.

Part of what my wife and I do is to restore or in some cases resuscitate old cars and trucks. That's part of the fun and adventure is to get it restored and back on the road so we can enjoy it! All while not breaking the bank or blowing well past the FMV of the car. We fix 'em up. Get them to run fantastic!... And eventually we pass them along to another fan that wants the enjoyment but not the repair headaches.

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probably best to find a parts car that has a good front rail . not sure if a mustang rail would work on the tbird . mustangs were fox platforms but were smaller than the tbird . 80's tbirds are nearly impossible to restore as there are very few parts in the after market world and mechanical parts are getting scarce. most in rustbelt junkyards have long been crushed . happy hunting
 
probably best to find a parts car that has a good front rail . not sure if a mustang rail would work on the tbird . mustangs were fox platforms but were smaller than the tbird . 80's tbirds are nearly impossible to restore as there are very few parts in the after market world and mechanical parts are getting scarce. most in rustbelt junkyards have long been crushed . happy hunting

We might have a solution of sorts. Local yard has a couple that are in good condition according to the owner of the yard. He's offered to bring them down to the 'showing' area so we can check them out. He loves the idea of fixing them up and getting them back on the road, as he is very reluctant to chop one of them up so we can snag what's basically the front clip minus the bolt on parts.

This guy is in his 80's and is still going strong. Soon as my wife and I started looking at the cars in the front lot, he walks out and yells over "Ya wanna buy it?" With a huge smile. Very nice guy and has been in the same plot of land for (get this) 60 YEARS!!!! I've purchased parts from his company a few times and have always had good experience. So once he gets his loader fixed, he's going to bring the pair of mid 80 birds down for us to look over. This guy's decent at least.

I figure if the cars he's been hanging onto for all these years are rotted out, but the front clip is decent- He's likely to part with the front section He knows the one still has an intact drive train, so that's something at least.

We'll report back later tomorrow and hopefully we can do a 'viewing'. He's a full service yard and not a PYP type. So he's not willing to risk his insurance doing 'yard tours'.

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If that doesn’t pan out you could try the fox tbirdcougar forum. I put together a handful of mid 80s birds and a XR7 cougar a few years back and there is a wealth of knowledge on there. A lot of those guys have parts/pieces/cars and fixed the issues your dealing with. I’ve sold or given off almost all of my Fox body stuff now as I only still have my 80 otherwise you’d be welcome to harvest whatever you needed.
 
If that doesn’t pan out you could try the fox tbirdcougar forum. I put together a handful of mid 80s birds and a XR7 cougar a few years back and there is a wealth of knowledge on there. A lot of those guys have parts/pieces/cars and fixed the issues your dealing with. I’ve sold or given off almost all of my Fox body stuff now as I only still have my 80 otherwise you’d be welcome to harvest whatever you needed.
Cool. I'll look into the forum as well. We're still trying to get either a different (less damaged) Tbird from the salvage yard. (The yard is also registered as a dealership, so I imagine he could sell it with a clean title- I'll have to clarify that tomorrow if he's got a good one) If that doesn't pan out, we'll have to see if we can get the seller of the one with the bad front rails down off from cloud-9 pricing. I mentioned that to the gent that owns the yard and he stated in the current condition it wasn't worth anywhere near that, as having a shop repair the damage would run quite a bit of $$.

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Welp, stupid as it sounds. We took the one with the bad rails (and a small section of floor that needs to be patched. Not sure how I missed that one....)

So we'll be pulling the drive train out and I did find a welding shop that specializes in repair of auto frames. They come highly recommended. And the more work I do preparing the area (by ensuring he can get to it easy) The price will be reasonable. We have the ability and tools to pull the drive train, and the core support will need work as well. With the engine/trans out, should make repair a lot easier.

What happened to the yard that supposedly had one? It was a mid 90's and the guy "Swears we have one, but it's up in the weeds somewhere." Call me crazy, but trying to sell me on a rebuild-able car that is 'in the weeds' and 'lost' doesn't fill me with sunshine and lollypops. So I took a walk after that one...

I'll do some research as I go.


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Mild update:

Got the esti' for the frame repair. That's a huge no-go. $2500-$3000 to make it 'safe'. (not return to 'factory'...but to install modified rails and fender apron repair). Not sure what happened to "Reasonable"... But the price jumped more then my blood pressure...

So we got lucky and managed to source a 1988 T-Bird turbo coupe with a body in very good condition (just about no rot under the car) but it has a bad crack in the cylinder head. #2 Exhaust to water jacket. I got it to run!... But it's dumping coolant into #2 to the point it won't fire at all. What made it into the exhaust made an impressive amount of white smoke!

So we're going to part out the white 1987 one after we nip what we need for the 1988. (Brakes, headlights, etc...) I did pull the engine already from the '87 complete with the manual. The 1988 has an auto. For the amount of time it was sitting- It gave me an attitude at first, then drove it around the yard and into our work area (spinning the rear tires all the way...) I know it's an A4LD which are usually blah.. But we'll run with that for the time being. And hold onto the manual items if we wish to manual swap it.

More updates to follow as I remember...

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Congrats on finding a good body car!

I would swap out the transmissions so you have the manual especially all the other parts too from the '87 (the rear trim around the back window is different too). From what i understand there are some minor electrical differences between the '87 & '88 TC. The boost on an auto is limited do to the transmissions not holding. You can increase the boost with a boost control valve to add to the fun. There's a "how-to" on converting to a manual transmission over on NATO.

 
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