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Starting this thread just to give us something to talk about. Everyone has their own opinions and facts on the year Bird they chose for what reason. Same with motor and trans choices. What are some thing you guys like most about your Birds? Which motor do you think works best in them? DOHC, GT, PI swap or Explorer. Which year do you think is easiest to start from? Don't forget your interior and exterior. Trans, suspension and such. Talk about whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Whoops, thought I was in the general tech forum. Sorry guys.
 

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No problem. Easy fix.

... What are some thing you guys like most about your Birds? Which motor do you think works best in them? DOHC, GT, PI swap or Explorer. Which year do you think is easiest to start from? Don't forget your interior and exterior. Trans, suspension and such. Talk about whatever.
The things I like about my car ...

Most: It's friggin' fast!
Least: It's friggin' expensive!

Best motor: PI Explorer by far. Easy to get, easy to swap, easy to upgrade.
Best year to start from: probably the '96 or '97 MN12 since you need fewer parts to do the Explorer swap.

Interior: I like the '94 - '96 instrument cluster so much better than the '97
Exterior: I like the '94 - '95 tear drop front bumper
 

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I wanted a 94/5 Cougar because I felt(and still feel) they're the best looking MN12s inside/out and can pretty much be mixed and matched with virtually any year MN12 if I wanted. Conversely, 96/7s are pretty much married to their wiring layout and side cladding and 89-93s are pretty much equally married to their dash layout. There are negatives to the 94/5s in terms of mechanical maladies(crap transmissions, oil consumption) but after the proper upgrades they are all virtually eliminated.

96/7s are mechanically the best to start with otherwise but nothings easy. These cars are old and past owners either pampered them or ran them into the ground. 96/7s seem to stave off rust better than any other years though. Ford gradually started using better galvanized steel in various places of the unibody and I think 96/7s had the most of it. That or they eliminated some of that expansion foam, which are complete moisture traps.

Engine: Engine choice to me is simplicity, durability, weight, and ease(modular cars, keep modular. SCs, Keep SCs. 5.0s keep 5.0s). Don't get me wrong, I'm not against engine swaps out of their family but generally for street performance any one of the engines offered in these cars can be made to perform similarly for the dollar spent.

DOHCs are nice but the pragmatic and budget choice for one is usually a Mark motor, which isn't bad by any means but, if you want to go to another level from there the $$$$s add up. 2Vs are plentiful, take just as well to boost and have the N/A potential of ousting a Mark motor. If the 2V has an aluminum block it also has a ~50lb weight advantage over one.

Transmission: I went with a semi-built 2000 4R70w and OEM Marauder converter in mine. I set it up with extra clutches, top level Drill settings and a few other upgrades. I did it because it seemed simpler than doing the manual trans that I truly wanted/want at the time(plus I have limited seat time driving stick cars). The auto makes for a nice cruiser but I've probably logged literally days worth of tuning and datalogging the shift settings, pressures, ect. and I still regularly find myself making tweaks. I'd much prefer a manual in one of these cars just to take the tuning aspects out of the equation and I'd certainly enjoy the driving experience more.

Suspension: I like stiff linear springs, stockish sized but neutral sway bars(they shouldn't be doing the job the springs are supposed to), stiff shocks and no more than a 2" drop. My current setup isn't quite where I like it yet, particularly up front, but it's getting there.

Brakes: Cobra PBRs. They're cheap, they're simple, they're easily rebuilt and they perform awesome on the street and track.

Interior: I want it to look clean and STOCK. Loaded with every conceivable factory feature, MN12 or otherwise, as long as they look and fit absolutely like they're STOCK. I hate aftermarket stereos, gauges, glossy and metallic painted pieces, buttons, air fresheners, and any other means of non matching clutter in them. I don't even like the 97 consoles because they have the ability to hold an ugly polystyrene cup full of upholstery staining liquids :tongue:

Exterior: Pretty much the same as the interior, STOCK(or the illusion of stock). Part of the attraction to these cars for me is their looks, I don't look at cars as a blank slate like customizers do. That to me was the the designers jobs and the result is the car I wanted. That stance pisses people off but that's my stance. Being different is easy, being different without seeming different is the real challenge.

That said, I like 17/18" wheels on these cars with 255+ tires and lower offsets(I'd rather have them sit slightly out than in, and with stiff linear springs without a ludicrous drop, rubbing won't be an issue). Other than that, swapping, deleting or adding factory trim pieces, body components and such, I'm into too as long as it's all cohesive.
 

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Best overall Tbird ? Super Coupe. The MN12 platform was based on this application from the beginning. Dont mess with it, just leave it stock. Ive owned a LOT of Tbirds over the past 15 years, 4.6L, Explorer swap, DOHC swap, Super Coupe, 3.8 NA, 5.0's, etc .. im just bored with them in general now, I have no reason to start a new project, but that doesnt mean it wont happen.

Anybody have a 96/97 4.6L Sport for sale, cheap ? I already have an aluminum block PI motor for it .. :tongue:
 

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I like the 94/95 exterior styling better. I went with the 97 Mark DOHC with this one but if I had to do it differently I would most likely go with the Explorer swap. While the DOHC makes decent power with the IMRC's workin you are limited in the work the average person can do on those. Definatly correct about the expense being doubled. The entior is more comfortable in the 94+ I think.
 

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i love my 95, i couldn't stand the smoothed odd look of the 96 and 97. or the weird plastic molding around the doors and stuff. the 95 just looks right to me. though i wish it had the 90 headlights with the separate beams, i enjoyed that on my old car. and the lights on the sides for turn illumination were sort of neat :D

otherwise i would definitely upgrade the motor if i had the chance, it is super underpowered and unresponsive compared to even 96 4.6's i have driven. mostly because of the awful violin case intake design. plus the heads don't really have any cams made for them whatsoever. just too bad i have to find a 96+ to cannibalize parts from to make it happen. otherwise i would have had at least a whole 96+ intake swap completed by now. also the oil changes are a pain... really wish i had a filter relocation kit.

i also seem to remember reading about someone who swapped the 97 ECM into a 95 with a harness re-pin and of course the TCC solenoid swapped in the trans. perhaps some other things i may be forgetting.... i would love to do that eventually so i can loose the inevitable injector failure and constant ECM rebuild or replace that 95's suffer with.

and my trans of course came apart in a bad way because the early 4r70w's did that. so its always a good idea to at least do what i did and get a 97 mechanical diode one in their with a Jmod and MercV.

one thing that always frustrated me about my interior was the broken rear defroster button... i didn't break it, but i definitely tried to JB weld it back together, and it has since broken loose again. i don't think the dude that owned my car before me realized you should only have to touch it, and when the fuse blew and punched it into the dash >.> same with the ODO gear that will rip apart if you reset it while driving down the road. and the little coin holders and ash tray in the center console are absolutely worthless. and some of the stuff like the light switch and cruise buttons are not lighted -_- plus i sure wish i had the moon-roof.

ummm suspension wise I'm really loving the lowered feel of a 1" to 1.6" drop sport spring. it looks so much better, and as long as you have a stiff shock, it will drive brilliantly. and i love the absence of vibrations after i put my mk8 drive-shaft in. oh and 3.08 gears are terrible. been meaning to find a 3l27 to swap in their at least. unfortunately their doesn't seem to be a lot of dead Tbirds still around the salvage yards anymore... at least here in the Midwest.

otherwise i love all MN12s their body design is beautiful. they just look so sleek and fast while their sitting still. they look to me like what the mustang should have been. never really liked the look of those, especially mid 70's to 05
 

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I wanted a 94/5 Cougar because I felt(and still feel) they're the best looking MN12s inside/out and can pretty much be mixed and matched with virtually any year MN12 if I wanted. Conversely, 96/7s are pretty much married to their wiring layout and side cladding and 89-93s are pretty much equally married to their dash layout. There are negatives to the 94/5s in terms of mechanical maladies(crap transmissions, oil consumption) but after the proper upgrades they are all virtually eliminated.

96/7s are mechanically the best to start with otherwise but nothings easy. These cars are old and past owners either pampered them or ran them into the ground. 96/7s seem to stave off rust better than any other years though. Ford gradually started using better galvanized steel in various places of the unibody and I think 96/7s had the most of it. That or they eliminated some of that expansion foam, which are complete moisture traps.

Engine: Engine choice to me is simplicity, durability, weight, and ease(modular cars, keep modular. SCs, Keep SCs. 5.0s keep 5.0s). Don't get me wrong, I'm not against engine swaps out of their family but generally for street performance any one of the engines offered in these cars can be made to perform similarly for the dollar spent.

DOHCs are nice but the pragmatic and budget choice for one is usually a Mark motor, which isn't bad by any means but, if you want to go to another level from there the $$$$s add up. 2Vs are plentiful, take just as well to boost and have the N/A potential of ousting a Mark motor. If the 2V has an aluminum block it also has a ~50lb weight advantage over one.

Transmission: I went with a semi-built 2000 4R70w and OEM Marauder converter in mine. I set it up with extra clutches, top level Drill settings and a few other upgrades. I did it because it seemed simpler than doing the manual trans that I truly wanted/want at the time(plus I have limited seat time driving stick cars). The auto makes for a nice cruiser but I've probably logged literally days worth of tuning and datalogging the shift settings, pressures, ect. and I still regularly find myself making tweaks. I'd much prefer a manual in one of these cars just to take the tuning aspects out of the equation and I'd certainly enjoy the driving experience more.

Suspension: I like stiff linear springs, stockish sized but neutral sway bars(they shouldn't be doing the job the springs are supposed to), stiff shocks and no more than a 2" drop. My current setup isn't quite where I like it yet, particularly up front, but it's getting there.

Brakes: Cobra PBRs. They're cheap, they're simple, they're easily rebuilt and they perform awesome on the street and track.

Interior: I want it to look clean and STOCK. Loaded with every conceivable factory feature, MN12 or otherwise, as long as they look and fit absolutely like they're STOCK. I hate aftermarket stereos, gauges, glossy and metallic painted pieces, buttons, air fresheners, and any other means of non matching clutter in them. I don't even like the 97 consoles because they have the ability to hold an ugly polystyrene cup full of upholstery staining liquids :tongue:

Exterior: Pretty much the same as the interior, STOCK(or the illusion of stock). Part of the attraction to these cars for me is their looks, I don't look at cars as a blank slate like customizers do. That to me was the the designers jobs and the result is the car I wanted. That stance pisses people off but that's my stance. Being different is easy, being different without seeming different is the real challenge.

That said, I like 17/18" wheels on these cars with 255+ tires and lower offsets(I'd rather have them sit slightly out than in, and with stiff linear springs without a ludicrous drop, rubbing won't be an issue). Other than that, swapping, deleting or adding factory trim pieces, body components and such, I'm into too as long as it's all cohesive.
Could not agree more here Matt. +1

I love my 95 Cougar XR-7, it just looks perfect as it sits. The 96/97's were too roundy and just looked weird. With a 1991 grille it looks mean!
 

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Could not agree more here Matt. +1

I love my 95 Cougar XR-7, it just looks perfect as it sits. The 96/97's were too roundy and just looked weird. With a 1991 grille it looks mean!
I agree with both of you but I like my 96 but I wish FOMOCO would have left off the side molding.
 

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I kind of like the cladding on the 96/97, I couldn't own a 97 based on the dashboard layout alone. I think the 94/95 Cougar is the best looking MN12 STOCK. My current dream Cougar is a 1996 with the cladding de-chromed With early Thunderbird SC bumpers and an 89/90 Cougar hood grille and lights.
 

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I kind of like the cladding on the 96/97, I couldn't own a 97 based on the dashboard layout alone. I think the 94/95 Cougar is the best looking MN12 STOCK. My current dream Cougar is a 1996 with the cladding de-chromed With early Thunderbird SC bumpers and an 89/90 Cougar hood grille and lights.
I agree I hate the 97 dash . Glad I have a'96!
 

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I agree with both of you but I like my 96 but I wish FOMOCO would have left off the side molding.
What I dislike about the 96/7 Cougars is that they were decontented with the mandate to share hoods, headlights, and basic bumper/cladding shapes with the Tbird. They always looked more like chromed up Tbirds with a formal roofline to me and, IMO, the more squared off front ends of the 89-95s complimented the roofline far far better. The 94/5s I like for the "new" interiors and far cleaner trim used. I also second Ian, the 91-93 grills make them pop.

I do have a real lust for 96/7 sport Cougars and 30ths though. But I like them to look stock. The factory rear spoiler and 16" wheels (namely 7 spokes) really make the rest of the car more attractive. A bright red 96 sport was actually the car I saw that attracted me to MN12s.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've had a 91 3.8 bird, a 90 SC, a 95 4.6 which I changed to the DOHC. I would have to say I liked my SC the best. The ride was smooth when you wanted but firm in the curves. I think I kinda like the fronts on those the most too. I hated the stupid auto seat belts though! Im partial to the interior of my 95 but I also like the early SC interior if its dark. I could own a Bird as my only car for life. Other than the obvious rust issues I think Ford did them with some serious injustice making them underpowered and 2 Dang tons! Evereyone and thier momma has a Mustang and thats what made me choose the Bird.
 

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My personal favorite overall package is the 94/95 manual transmission SC's, however I would throw a 96/97 hood and headlights/turn signals on it as well and tweed/vinyl seats out of an older SC. I appreciate all MN12's/FN10's but I mod them to fit me. I truly enjoy my DOHC swapped 97, but it's far from done. I'm sure I'll enjoy my 94 LX - SC swap project as well when I'm done with it, honestly I hate that car, but since I bought it so cheap it gets a lot of leeway, I can see the finished car in my head, but it will take a long time to get there.
 

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Hmm.. where to start..

I have always been a Thunderbird fan, even as a kid of the 80's with the fox body models. The 1987-88 Turbo Coupes were always a favorite, especially the black with the red trim stripe.

I had my 1997 Sable and ran out of stuff to do with it. The Vulcan wasn't going to get better then mid-17s no matter what I did. Even if I added N20 to it, I didn't think the car would have done what I wanted. I loved the GEN3 Taurus/Sable, I owned 2 of them at the same time! I shocked my family when I decided to sell both of them. Both cars were SCT tuned and I wanted to see what SCT could do with the Thunderbird.

I originally looked for 1996-97 birds (http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=110162) but really couldn't find one. When my 1995 showed up, I had to have it because I liked the lack of plastic trim and the 1995 bumper. I really didn't understand the differences between 1995/96 models at the time. I found out later that the 94-95 models are a bit of an underdog, but I like underdogs.

My first trip to the track in AS-IS condition was disappointing. I was clocking mid 16s in the 1/4 mile. I knew there was more power to be had, so over the past 4-5 summers, I have been fixing and upgrading. Now there is very little on the car that hasn't been touched. The Mustang repair guy at the garage I go to said "That Bird takes off and keeps going and going". I love it when people take notice of how she was vs. what she is now.

She only needs a radiator and some body work now. The radiator is a next year project (I hope!) with new hoses. The body work is what has me torn.. It will need a bit of sheetmetal work on the rocker. Do I take it to a chain or do I wait and have it done at a independant shop? My car is a 10FT car, looks great from 10FT away!

So, I am in it for the long term. I will have this car as long as its safe to drive. It will be cool to drive something rare.
 

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Starting this thread just to give us something to talk about. Everyone has their own opinions and facts on the year Bird they chose for what reason. Same with motor and trans choices. What are some thing you guys like most about your Birds? Which motor do you think works best in them? DOHC, GT, PI swap or Explorer. Which year do you think is easiest to start from? Don't forget your interior and exterior. Trans, suspension and such. Talk about whatever.
I chose a 5.0 powered MN12 for reliabilty..

IMHO without mods..The 5.0 is the most reliable Engine installed from the factory in an MN12....



After I chose the powerplant I wanted..

Then I just added bits and pieces that I liked...From different years MN12 Thunderbirds & Cougars..


Finding a rust-free car was a priority..My Sport spent most of its life in Texas..



Some of the different pieces I like from the MN12:


94-97 Thunderbird/Cougar Updated Interior {Minus the Seats &...the 97 Gauge Cluster...Don't like those.. :( }..

94-95 Thunderbird LX/XR7 Rear Bumpers..

92-93 Thunderbird Sport & LX Front Bumpers..

89-95 Supercoupe/XR-7 Seats

96-97 Thunderbird/Cougar Headlights

89-91 Thunderbird Trunk Reflectors

94-95 Thunderbird/Cougar Side Moldings

94-97 Thunderbird/Cougar Windshield Wiper Cowls

91-92 & 96-97 Thunderbird/Cougar Sport Suspension

89-93 Thunderbird/Cougar Digital Dash





I could keep going on.. :D


How boring would it be if every MN12 here looked the same..

Mold your MN12 into what you want it to be..

:thumbsup:





Rayo..
 

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I didn't like anything about my car, except the exterior.
I'm changing all the rest of the car to how I want it.....how I wish I could have ordered it from the factory.
I wish you could still buy factory race cars like in the 60's.
 

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Could not agree more here Matt. +1

I love my 95 Cougar XR-7, it just looks perfect as it sits. The 96/97's were too roundy and just looked weird. With a 1991 grille it looks mean!
Add another to the list of people who prefer the 95. Actually add 2 because my wife agrees.
 
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