I purchased this automobile new in 1993 and have driven it for 17 years. Up until recently it offered a trouble- free existence, other than blown head gaskets at around 80k miles. It still has the original exhaust system, muffler, belts, hoses and LED tail lights in functioning condition. Other than replacing tires, shocks, and brakes it has been a no- maintenance car. However, in the last year a variety of systems have finally given out: air compressor (and original freon, sorry ozone), link arms, upper control joints, and paint. I have had these repaired assuming it will repay the investment with many more driving years as this car potentially becomes a classic - we'll see.
Purchased the 'bird new on '93, but had to have the dealer fix the water pump, brakes (twice) and replace wheel bearings within 6 months. The ventilation system has always squeaked, and what bonehead decided not to put cupholders in the car? Rides nice and quiet, but the engine area has always had a smell of antifreeze. At 73,000 miles the headgaskets blew. My '87 Bird blew headgaskets at 30,000 miles! Why can't Ford fix this seemingly chronic problem? I guess that's why so many people are going to Japanese cars. They seem to respond to problems.
Alright, I bought my 93 with 117,998 on the clock and a 5.0L engine. She rode like a dream and still does but she is a high maintainence machine. I've spent almost half of what I paid for her in repairs in less than a year later. Some of the problems recur.. like the cooling issue, this is my 3rd thunderbird, I previously had an 83 and a 90. Had cooling problems with all three.
I got it from a friend for $500. It had previously been used off-roading. The AC didn't work, there was a power-steering leak, and the odometer had broken at 125k miles before he owned it. We guesstimated around 180k miles, give or take. I can tell you, I didn't expect much. I was pleasantly surprised. The car ran great, never had any problems starting or overheating. I drove it for 3 years before a bearing went bad and I failed to get it fixed, leading to brake problems. Otherwise it was completely reliable and very fun to drive. It'll treat you right as long as you treat it right (regular oil changes/general maintenance). A great first car. I'll miss you, Thundy!