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1997 Ford thunderbird 4.6 V8
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,
I’ve recently got my Thunderbird 97 registered under my name. It was a late graduation gift from my parents. My dad got the car from an old lady, who passed away, and sold the car for 2,500 at 30,XXX Miles. At the moment of making this post, the bird has flown over 88,XXX miles and has recently got new brake pads and rotors, and a oil change at 86,XXX. Besides all that the car is completely stock with no upgrades or aftermarket parts and I would like to change that. The main thing I want my bird to be is a modern version of what is was in 1997, while also having a few extra ponies. It would be cool for my bird to be car meet up worthy, because if I’m gonna put money into it I might as well show it.

The first thing I want to do is the suspension, I did look at the Vogtland lowering kit for my bird but I would also like to replace the whole tower while I’m at it.

If you have any other suggestions as for upgrades, upkeep, or just question about my bird that I’ve left out please let me know.
 

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Would first like to say welcome to the Forum. My first car was a 96 Tbird, given to me by my grandfather when I was 13. I still own the car today. They are great cars and once you embrace their quirks they quickly get under your skin. Ive had a couple others over the years. If you take care of them, theyll take care of you.


Now, onto your questions.

Suspension is a good start. No matter the milage, rubber in the bushings will break down over the years. Especially in the rear suspension. Im not saying replace then just yet, but jack the car up, take the wheels off, and check every bushing to make sure there are no cracks in the rubber.

In the fronts do the same, but also make sure the balljoints and inner tie rods have no play. You can check ball joints by moving the spindle up and down with a pry bar, and tie rods by pulling it back and forth. There should be no play.


In terms of your springs, Vogtlands are good. Which is good, because they are the only option left.

I dont know what you mean by "replacing the tower". If you mean the coil/shock assembly, performance sets dont exist. We have been trying for years to find ones that do. I tried Nissan 350Z fronts, others actually finished the swap, and we found they actually lift the car bt about 3 inches.

Only "bolt in" option are QA1 coilovers from Super Coupe Performance, and they are nearly a thousand dollars for just the fronts, and come without springs. And Vogtlands dont work on them.

Besides that, maintenance over mods on a first car. Even with lower milage its still 25 years old. Check your vacuum lines, fuel hoses, coolant hoses, and all your fluids. Not just the oil, but trans and diff too.


Also I need you to explain "modern version of 1997". These cars were offered with auto headlights, auto dimming rear view mirrors, automatic ride control (replacements now no longer sold) back when they first came out in 1989. Thats things new cars are still trying to offer as modern, so again Ill need you to explain.


So you know, since youre a youngin, No one makes after market headlights for Halos or LEDs. No one makes after market tail lights. Body kits have been discontinued for I believe a decade and most parts from a mustang will not fit directly, but can be made to fit.


If you have any questions, just ask. And post some photos of the car! You never mentioned, what engine does it have?
 

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Not entirely true. You can get these LED headlights for your car. I run them on mine.


Other LED lights for the car:

 
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Not entirely true. You can get these LED headlights for your car. I run them on mine.


Other LED lights for the car:

I didnt mean bulbs. I meant custom housings.
 

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1997 Ford thunderbird 4.6 V8
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5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here are the pictures I have of my bird:





For the clarification for what I’ve said on my post. What I meant by making the bird a “modern version of what it was in 97” is That I want the car to be running like it was in 97. You were correct with what I meant with the shock tower, or shock assembly (as you said in your post). I’ve been experiencing squeaking noises from suspension any time I make a left turn, and found out that my upper control arm on both sides are screwed so I bought an entire aftermarket front suspension kit so I can replace the almost 30 years old parts. Once I get the suspensions done I think of moving over to the drive train or the engine itself to see if there is anything needed to be taken care of.

Would first like to say welcome to the Forum. My first car was a 96 Tbird, given to me by my grandfather when I was 13. I still own the car today. They are great cars and once you embrace their quirks they quickly get under your skin. Ive had a couple others over the years. If you take care of them, theyll take care of you.


Now, onto your questions.

Suspension is a good start. No matter the milage, rubber in the bushings will break down over the years. Especially in the rear suspension. Im not saying replace then just yet, but jack the car up, take the wheels off, and check every bushing to make sure there are no cracks in the rubber.

In the fronts do the same, but also make sure the balljoints and inner tie rods have no play. You can check ball joints by moving the spindle up and down with a pry bar, and tie rods by pulling it back and forth. There should be no play.


In terms of your springs, Vogtlands are good. Which is good, because they are the only option left.

I dont know what you mean by "replacing the tower". If you mean the coil/shock assembly, performance sets dont exist. We have been trying for years to find ones that do. I tried Nissan 350Z fronts, others actually finished the swap, and we found they actually lift the car bt about 3 inches.

Only "bolt in" option are QA1 coilovers from Super Coupe Performance, and they are nearly a thousand dollars for just the fronts, and come without springs. And Vogtlands dont work on them.

Besides that, maintenance over mods on a first car. Even with lower milage its still 25 years old. Check your vacuum lines, fuel hoses, coolant hoses, and all your fluids. Not just the oil, but trans and diff too.


Also I need you to explain "modern version of 1997". These cars were offered with auto headlights, auto dimming rear view mirrors, automatic ride control (replacements now no longer sold) back when they first came out in 1989. Thats things new cars are still trying to offer as modern, so again Ill need you to explain.


So you know, since youre a youngin, No one makes after market headlights for Halos or LEDs. No one makes after market tail lights. Body kits have been discontinued for I believe a decade and most parts from a mustang will not fit directly, but can be made to fit.


If you have any questions, just ask. And post some photos of the car! You never mentioned, what engine does it have?
 

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People have been unhappy with some of the kits available.
I've been using acdelco control arms; they have grease fittings.
Noiseis bad; don't drive it till you replace that stuff. If it fails it rips the fender off.
 
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97 Thunderbird 4.6, 98 Mark VIII LSC
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Yeah, if you used an all-in-one kit off eBay or similar I'd start immediately putting money away to get higher-quality parts on it. Most of those kits will start failing in some capacity within a year.

Shock options (for the front) are junk, though in dire need at least "daily driver" replacements are made. Brake options are plentiful as are engine/transmission upgrades. Always start from the ground and work your way towards the engine. :)
 

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1997 Ford thunderbird 4.6 V8
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, if you used an all-in-one kit off eBay or similar I'd start immediately putting money away to get higher-quality parts on it. Most of those kits will start failing in some capacity within a year.

Shock options (for the front) are junk, though in dire need at least "daily driver" replacements are made. Brake options are plentiful as are engine/transmission upgrades. Always start from the ground and work your way towards the engine. :)
So if I’m replacing the front shocks, my only option is after market parts
 

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If you just want shocks, the parts stores will sell you standard shocks. Good shocks are more difficult.
I'm lucky enough that I have koni's on one car. They are the best I've driven.
The Gabriel sensatracks were the best standard shock, but they died after 3 years.
Koni's for the mustang vert work well in the rear; I just got a set yesterday. :)
 
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1997 SPORT Laser Red. Restored May of 2020.
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198 Posts
Welcome aboard.
Not sure if you are still looking at these replies; however, I have a 1997 Thunderbird with the SPORT option that I had restored two years ago. Just turned 90,000 on the odo and she is still running like new. I also had a 1996 that was modified with the AED supercharger and pulling 350+ horsepower. I sold the '96 to a tccoa member that has way more mechanic ability than I do. He has kept her running and the 96 now has the coyote engine and transmission in her.

I am your contact if you want to get your '97 running like new.

Looks like you may have the Sport option. A few questions:
1. What is production date?
2. What is the spring code off the drivers side sticker?
 
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