Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
July 26, 2006
Photos By: Michael Galimi, Scott Parker

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Shootout ideas come from a number of different places including staff members, racers, and general e-mails. This latest idea came from the MM&FF Mailbag department and pitted Thunderbird Turbo Coupes against Thunderbird Super Coupes.

While we had some great initial interest, the submissions count needed some padding, so we opened it up to all MN12 and Fox-based chassis types.

The Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was produced from 1983 to 1988, starting early with a mere 150 hp and finishing stronger with 190, at least for the five-speed models. In 1989, the Thunderbird and Cougar both switched to the MN12 platform, and the portly structure found new motivation in the way of a supercharged V-6 engine.

The new engine produced 210 horses and 315 lb-ft of torque thanks to 12 psi of intercooled boost pumping through the 3.8. Those numbers later increased to 230 hp and 330 lb-ft. The year 1995 was the last for the Super Coupe, as the platform had switched to 4.6 V-8 modular power for its high-output option.

We struggled to get this shootout off the ground, but we were more than happy to watch people crank on their rides to get low e.t. of the day, and the competition drew close toward the end.

We've seen evidence of 10-second Super Coupes on the Internet, but couldn't reel in any for the shootout. The various Turbo Coupe performances we saw looked good but nowhere near the supposed 10-second range. Obviously, the V-8 cars should have had the advantage and, in fact, we did get one submission for a legit eight-second ride, but it wasn't exactly what we were looking for.

While we may not have necessarily brought you the fastest Turbo Coupes, Super Coupes, or Cougars in the country for this one, what we do have are some cars that just might surprise you with how fast they are.

1st Place
'96 Mercury Cougar
Steve Dugan, Hedgesville, WV
12.24/106.66

The lone V-8-powered entry in this shootout provided stout low-13-second elapsed times on motor alone and low-12s with the squeeze. Owner Steve Dugan was shooting for the 11.9-12.0 range, but fell short when the nitrous bottle heater stopped working. Further carnage occurred on the last run when the spider gears in the differential ejected themselves from the carrier.

Purchased new from the dealer, Steve's Cougar ran high-13s on its stock engine. With Jerry Wroblewski of SCT tuning the EEC-V and help from Mike Siska, Mike Napier of J-M Motorsports, Scott Hoffman of Scott's Speed Shop, and James Rumsey Auto Tech, Steve hopes to be in the 11s by the end of the summer.

STRIP SPECS
Owner:Steve Dugan
Hometown:Hedgesville, WV
Driver:Steve Dugan
Year/Model:’96 Mercury Cougar
Weight w/Driver:3,692 lbs
Engine: 281ci V-8, Two-Valve
Built By: Ford
Power Adder:Zex Dry Nitrous oxide
system
Maximum Boost/ Nitrous Qty.:125 hp
Intake Manifold:Bullitt cast aluminum
Cylinder Head(s):Stock PI
Compression Ratio: 9.9:1
Camshaft(s):Stock PI
Ignition: Stock
Exhaust: JBA Shorty headers, custom 2.5-in dual to 3-in single with dual 2.5-in tailpipes, Flowmaster one-chamber mufflers
Transmission:4R70W automatic
Converter/Clutch:Precision Industries Stallion, 9.5 in
Rear Type:Lincoln Mark VIII 8.8
IRS: 4.30:1 ring-and- pinion
Wheels: 15x4.5 stock steel spares front, stock Mercury Cougar rear 15x6.5
Tires F/R: Goodyear 28x4.5x15 front, Mickey Thompson ET Drag 28x9x15 rear
Suspension Front:Stock
Suspension Rear:Lincoln Mark VIII aluminum control arms, differential and sway bar, stock springs, polyurethane differential and end-link bushings bushings, custom subframe connectors, individually adjustable airbags, Bilstein IRS Cobra shocks
Best ET/MPH:12.2 / 109.5 mph

STRIP LOG
Run #60-FT1/4-MileMPH
11.8213.3799.04
21.5912.24106.66
31.62 13.06101.41
41.6112.38105.92

2nd Place
'87 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe
Steve Choma, Beachwood, NJ
12.31/109.94

With his stout 12.35 performance, Steve Choma has the fastest Turbo Coupe that we know of. He improved upon the car's performance with each pass, tweaking the boost, timing, and fuel.

When the Cougar went down for the count late in the day, Steve tried hard to come up with the few hundredths necessary to take the win but fell short. His best e.t. of the day, a 12.31, was achieved through 26 psi of boost and quick shifting of the 148,000-mile T5.

The short-block also sports the same mileage accrual, but having been "built Ford tough," it has proven to be up to the task of propelling the luxury ride to quick elapsed times.

Steve purchased the car while still in high school as it was a twin to his father's own Turbo Coupe. It didn't hurt that his dad had kept his Bird even after wrecking it, which allowed Steve to scavenge parts from it.

A college student on a budget, Steve has sunk an estimated $6,000 and untold hours into the Turbo Coupe over the last six years, and continues to modify it as he works his way to a mechanical engineering degree.

STRIP SPECS
Owner:Steve Choma
Hometown:Beachwood, NJ
Driver:Steve Choma
Year/Model:’87 Thunderbird
Turbo:Coupe
Weight w/Driver:3,366 lbs
Engine:140ci (2.3-liter) inline four-cylinder, overhead cam
Built By:Ford
Intercooler:Custom front-mount air-to-air
Power Adder:50 trim T3/T4 turbocharger, 0.63 exhaust housing
Maximum Boost/ Nitrous Qty.:26 psi
Intake Manifold:Stock cast aluminum
Cylinder Head(s):Cast iron turbo D-port, ported by Bo Christman
Compression Ratio:8:1
Camshaft(s):Ford Racing A-237, duration 226 intake/234 exhaust, 0.420-in valve lift
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:E6 exhaust manifold ported, 3-in downpipe, 3-in Catco catalytic converter, 3-in DynoMax Super Turbo muffler
Transmission:Stock T5 five-speed
Converter/Clutch:Spec Stage III clutch
Rear Type:Stock 8.8 solid axle with 3.55:1 ring-and-pinion
Wheels:Weld Racing Rodlite, 15x4 front, 15x8 rear
Tires F/R:BFG 195/65/15 front, Mickey Thompson ET Drag 26x10 rear
Suspension Front:Stock
Suspension Rear:Stock
Best ET/MPH:12.69 / 107 mph

STRIP LOG
Run #60-FT1/4-MileMPH
11.7712.67107.76
21.7112.57108.73
31.7412.53 109.51
41.64 12.35 110.16
51.6612.31109.94

3rd Place
'93 Thunderbird Super Coupe
Paul Roberge, La Habra, CA
14.84/93.47

With Contestants dropping like flies just days before the event, Paul Roberge called us out of the blue and said he might be able to provide two capable Super Coupes. It turned out that one of the cars couldn't make it, so Paul drove his own personal SC to the meet.

What was surprising was that the ringer he had brought suffered several problems throughout the day and never ran faster than Paul's own daily driver, which had half as many mods as the other.

High-14s from a 4,100-pound coupe are respectable enough, until you figure in that the Super Coupe's powerplant has 169,000 miles on it and just a handful of minor mods.

STRIP SPECS
Owner:Paul Roberge
Hometown:La Habra, CA
Driver:Paul Roberge
Year/Model:’93 Thunderbird Super Coupe
Weight w/Driver:4,114 lbs
Engine:232 ci (3.8-liter) V-6
Built By:Ford
Intercooler:Stock air-to-air
Power Adder:Stock Eaton M90 supercharger
Maximum Boost/ Nitrous Qty.:13 psi
Intake Manifold:Stock
Cylinder Head(s):Stock
Compression Ratio:Stock 8.2:1
Camshaft(s):Stock
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:Stock manifolds with DynoMax resonator back system
Transmission:Stock AOD
Converter/Clutch:Stock
Rear Type:Stock IRS with 3.27:1 ring-and-pinion
Wheels:Stock 16x7
Tires F/R:225/60/16
Suspension Front:Stock
Suspension Rear:Stock
Best ET/MPH:15.37 / 90.09

STRIP LOG
Run #60-FT1/4-MileMPH
12.2714.9692.68
22.2914.8493.47
32.3114.9293.54

4th Place
'90 Thunderbird Super Coupe
Jason Dobrie, Eastport, NY
14.88/83.07

Jason Dobrie's Super Coupe has all the right parts to run mid-13s on the supercharger, and the crew had planned to install a nitrous-oxide system for mid-12s but weren't able to in the short amount of time they had to prepare the car.

Purchased from eBay for a few hundred dollars, the Super Coupe was brought back to Long Island where Jason decided it was better to rebuild the whole engine rather than repair the blown head gaskets. New forged pistons and 351W connecting rods were employed, and the stock heads were ported and activated by a new camshaft.

More boost was pullied up, but a bad computer kept the car from running to its potential over the course of the track day.

STRIP SPECS
Owner:Jason Dobrie
Hometown:Eastport, New York
Driver:Jason Dobrie
Year/Model:’90 Thunderbird Super Coupe
Weight w/Driver:4,128 lbs
Engine:232ci (3.8-liter) V-6
Built By:Jason Dobrie
Intercooler:Stock air-to-air intercooler
Power adder:Stock Eaton M90 supercharger
Maximum Boost/ Nitrous Qty.:16 psi
Intake manifold:Stock, ported with Blue Tongue Motorsports modified upper plenum
Cylinder Head(s):Stock, ported
Compression Ratio:8:1
Camshaft(s):Custom, 220 degrees duration at 0.050, 0.540-inch lift
Ignition:Stock
Exhaust:Kooks custom headers, high-flow catalytic converters, MagnaFlow mufflers
Transmission:Stock AOD automatic
Converter/Clutch:2,200-rpm stall
Rear Type:Stock IRS with 3.73:1 ring-and-pinion
Wheels:17x8 Cobra R front and rear
Tires F/R:Dunlop 245/50/17
Suspension Front:Stock
Suspension Rear:Stock
Best ET/MPH:N/A

STRIP LOG
Run #60-FT1/4-MileMPH
12.6419.5072.33
21.9914.8883.07
32.23 16.7982.08