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It really makes you wonder how anyone, presented with a car that is obviously loved and very well looked after, could bring themselves to do such a blatant bodge-job and not only fail to fix the problem, but make it ten times worse for the customer too.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Discussion Starter #143
Well, bad news.

The rust has progressed quite far. It has gone beyond the inner rockers and up into the floor pans. There is some kind of moisture problem on the passenger side and much of the floor pan was moist. The rear upper shock mounts have started to bubble up around the bushings, and the left side has a crack on the inside of the trunk. The right torque box just ahead of the rear wheel is weak. The left box is also pretty deteriorated (but not as weak).

The body guy was very upfront about the issues - while he did say he could fix these things, he was pessimistic about being able to determine where the deterioration stopped, to find good metal to weld repairs to (mostly ahead of the rear wheels, going up towards the trunk and over the wheels), without going past a certain point of no return. Said point of no return being not being able to put the car back together without going "who knows how far" into the weeds with any additional rot discovered. Given what was found up in the rockers and even into the floor pans... I told him to just do a cosmetic repair at this point to get the car looking good for the next year or two as I try to source an appropriate replacement to transfer parts to. Yeah the car has sentimental value, but I'm not sure $12-15,000 worth of sentimental value. 😭😭

I'll probably be looking for a nice, rust-free E9 97 in the next couple years. If anyone happens across something... well, let me know.
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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Sorry Brandon, I really didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news earlier but I have to admit it looked too far gone to me from the last round of pictures, the inner rockers were clearly gone, and those attach to the floorpans, so.... 😬

I agree with this approach, cut out any remaining rot, treat the metal and patch it up, and proceed to drive it like you stole it. Maybe get some subframe braces made to compensate for the weakened structure.

I have a real ship of Theseus thing when it comes to my Cougar, and other possessions, I replaced about every part but it’s still fundamentally the same car to me, why should a bodyshell be any different?
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Discussion Starter #145
Yeah, with all the other signs I knew this day was coming. All that's happened up until now I guess has just been setting me up to get to this point. I've seen a lot of things here and there in recent years that made me go "no..." but I guess I've been in denial?

The wife has made it clear that getting her car replaced with something 2-3 years old is next after I get the T-bird back. I need to get the Mark VIII looked over too, there's a little spot on the driver's side that came through this winter...

At least I'll have a garage with space for me to do the work on both cars simultaneously. Just not looking forward to R&R'ing all the stuff to transplant - twice! Maybe I can have a local guy put a teksid or WAP together for me with my heads... :unsure:
 

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Sorry to hear this; I'll try to keep an eye out for a good body for you.

I'd buy her a 5.0 Mustang. With 500hp, lol.

:)
 

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Sorry to read this Brandon, that's such a shame. I guess the way to look at it is like XR7-4.6 says - the shell is just another part which you've had to replace.
 

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Sorry to hear about the car. Perhaps find a southern roller to cut up where needed and weld to yours?

But, I guess that'd fall under the "$12,000+ fix" category.
 

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Thats disheartening. I cant imagine being in your position, because my 96 is very sentimental to me as well.

Ill keep an eye out for a clean body for you. Theres a couple red 96-97s in FL that havent moved in a bit.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Discussion Starter #152
Thanks, I appreciate it. Interior and drivetrain need not be in great shape since I can/probably will transplant what I already have but bonus points if they are, since good spares (at least of MN12 specific stuff) are getting much harder to find now.
 
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