As everyone was rushing towards front-wheel drive designs during the 1980s, Ford saw an occasion to help shed some of its dull, boring and shapeless image. It looked to the past, and found what it was looking for. The result was the 1988 Ford Thunderbird, the last year of the 9th generation of this venerable model. An evolution of the model originally introduced in 1983, the 1988 model was so radically different than almost nothing survived, except perhaps the general shape. This was to be followed, in subsequent years, by an even more radical redesign which brought to the fore the Super Coupe, an awesome car in its own right. But that’s neither here nor there.
The fasted of the ’88 T-Birds was the Turbo Coupe, powered by a 190-horsepower, 2.3-liter OHC turbocharged four-cylinder with intercooler. Available was a five-speed manual transmission. Top speed was an honest 143 miles per hour, and acceleration, in the 7.5 second range to 60 mph.
The 1988 Ford Thunderbird had a design that was clearly inspired by the BMW 6-Series. Although it could never match the car’s performance, the Thunderbird sold quite well, which is why Ford continued working on it even though they’d been hard at work on the next generation of the Thunderbird since 1986.