What opinions does Oppo hold about the 1997 Ford Thunderbird LX?


A buddy of mine recently bought a new car and no longer has a need for his 1997 Ford Thunderbird LX with the 4.6L SOHC V8 and 5-speed automatic, which is near enough to 140,000 miles to make no difference.

According to him, it runs and drives just fine and has been dead-on reliable for him for the years he’s owned it. Admittedly, his could use a good clean-up, a good tune-up, maybe some brakes, and the passenger-side window is a little finnicky when rolling down (I’m assuming a rack issue). Also the key is stuck in the ignition, but the key-fob works fine or locking and unlocking the doors. I imagine both the window and the key issue could be fixed in an afternoon.

When he bought the new car (A ‘14 Veloster), he tried to use the T-Bird as a trade-in but the dealership told him he’d be better off taking it to a scrap yard, due to the age and lack of demand. Myself and another buddy did the math and the numbers say that with current scrap value, my buddy would only get $113 for the car. Considering it’s a reliably running vehicle, that seems like a damned shame. My buddy agrees and would rather just sell it to someone who needs it.

My friend isn’t too picky about what it sells for, mentioning he’d “like to get maybe $500 for it”. Considering the condition the Windstar and the fact that my fiancee has a predilection for big RWD Ford landbarges with V8's and automatics (she’s owned 3 pre-panther Crown Vic’s in her life), I’m considering maybe making him an offer on it. That would give us a second running vehicle until I can get the van and/or Audi into either reliable running shape or at least get the van into sellable shape.

I know if I haggled with my friend, who knows my situation, I could probably get the car for $300-$400 with a month or two to pay it off. From everything I’m reading, it seems to have a solid reputation for reliability and comfort, with decent performance for what it is. Not to mention if we decided to keep it more long-term, it shares a massive number of parts with the Mustang, which opens up lots of aftermarket options for us.

Downsides? Well, it’s heavy, it’s not gonna get great fuel economy, it has mid-90's Ford electric,s and it’s a 2-door. The rear seats are big enough for the kiddos (at least for a couple more years) and the trunk is massive, but 4 doors would obviously make sense. Then again, this would be a gap car just to get us by until we can get an Outback 3.0R in the future. My fiancee doesn’t go much driving, but I know having just the option of being able to leave the house without having to bum a ride would help me mental state out greatly and give us a little breathing room.

What do you guys think? Are these good cars? Is it worth a few hundred bucks if it’s in good running condition? Or is it more than likely just another money pit waiting to happen? Also, do I have a few hundred bucks available? No. But I know my friend and I know he and I could work out a payment plan between us. If I did decide to buy it off of him, I would have to see what it would do to my insurance, obviously, along with paying to have it registered, tagged, and taxed. It’s something that’s within my capabilities- but I don’t know if it’s a bad idea or not.