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Thread: Buying an 89 SC w/ 175K and Bad Clutch - Need Sanity Check!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Buying an 89 SC w/ 175K and Bad Clutch - Need Sanity Check!

    I'm planning on buying an 89 SC this weekend, potentially. I haven't seen or heard the car yet and would like to get a sanity check from the forum members here before I travel down to see it.

    I've owned a lot of different makes and models of performance cars over the past 30 years and have always wanted to pick up an 89+ T-Bird SC to play with. I found a white one about an hour or so out of town with 175K miles on it that's going for $900. The only issue with the car, besides the higher mileage and a few small spots of surface rust, is a bad clutch. The motor, tranny, electrical, brakes and tires are all supposed to be in pretty good shape.

    I've done a fair amount of research on the forum here and elsewhere on the Net on replacement performance clutches, like the SPEC Stage 1, 2, 3's and others, as well as common repair issues and potential problems. I'm a DIY kind of guy and enjoy doing most of the work on my cars.

    I get obsessive about my cars. When I think I want something - like I think I want this car - then passion and obsession take over for logic and reason. I'm sure some of you know what I mean. So, I really need a sanity check from you all, so I can better understand what to look for on the car, potential repair issues with the 89 at 175K miles, what I should consider ordering in terms of the clutch kit and related parts, etc.

    I'm not so concerned about the mileage, unless I really should be. Do you think $900 is a good price for the car as I've described? Realistically, what am I looking at in terms of part costs only (labor cost is wrench time for me and beer and steak for my mechanic) to do the clutch and clutch-related parts properly? Any suggestions on particular performance parts I should consider to fix it up right?

    Thanks in advance for your input.
    Last edited by 89scott; 03-13-2008 at 11:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2007
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    with rust I would say no. You can find better deals wait and look on here aswell. These are not hondas.

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, a little bit of rust is usually part of the equation on older cars in Upstate NY. I have a 4 step corrosion inhibitor system that I developed and use to eliminate minor to medium rusting. So, as long as the rust scenario is less than all-out terminally cancerous frame and body rot from the inside out, then my system will convert and seal it and make sure it doesn't come back.
    Last edited by 89scott; 03-14-2008 at 12:29 AM.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2008
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    Longview Washington
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    As project cars go, $900 for a running SC doesn't seem all that bad to me. You could probably grind the seller down a bit. I spent more than that...perhaps foolishly...for a project SC with a near perfect, rust free body. Heh heh....pretty much all I bought was a good body ! (well, the car does run and drive....but its mighty tired)

    If the rust doesn't worry you then go for it. But, if the ones I've seen are any indication, an 18 y/o SC with 175k is almost certainly gonna need quite a bit of work besides a clutch. Suspension, interior, paint, etc. But that's what project cars are all about, that's where the fun is, IMHO. If I/we were smarter we'd pony up for a absolute creampuff that the seller has already spent $10K -$15k on to make it perfect....and is selling it for 50% of what he "invested" That's the practical thing to do, but not as satisfying, I'd say.

    But you probably know all that.....

    Cheers
    DD

  5. #5
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    Mar 2008
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    Thanks for the input. Yeah, it would probably be smarter to buy something with less miles, rebuilds, mods and actually rolling. There is another SC about an hour away to the west of me that has a lot of mods, that is running w/ only a 100K or so, but needs a tune and larger than 36# injectors to run trick for around $2200.

    I just sold my Dodge Omni GLH and I'm process of selling my '86 Vette, which needs a little work. Maybe someone on the forum here is interested in a swap deal for my red '86 Vette with only 78K on it. It's listed on Craigslist at http://rochester.craigslist.org/car/586967014.html. The pictures are sh!te - the body and paint are in good shape, as is the motor, tranny and so on.

    I've explored a few potential Mustang swaps for the Vette, already, and may entertain a swap for an SC of equivalent value. I've got tons of extra parts and a whole other rebuilt 350 bored over .060 bottom end that goes along with it. Realistically, it needs another 15 - 20 hours of work to put her back together and getting her running again. Sweet ride, though. Really blows some doors when she's running right.

    Anyway, though, until I sell the Vette, I only have about a $1000 budget for another project car. Perhaps it's worth it for me to wait until I sell the Vette, then I'll have a decent budget to work with and could afford a pretty nice SC.

    Do you think I'd enjoy driving an SC? I think I would - and I really love that supercharger whine! Way too expensive to set something like that up on the Vette, though. Not that I haven't thought about it...
    Last edited by 89scott; 03-14-2008 at 01:16 AM.

  6. #6
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    you want a 60-80k car

  7. #7
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    Mar 2008
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    Yes, 60 - 80K would be good. At what mileage do you typically start to see the repair issues starting to happen on the SC's?

  8. #8
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    I'd say a lot depends on what your end goal is.....

    If you know NOW that you won't be happy unless you have a fresh motor, a gorgeous paint job, a perfect interior, all mechanicals overhauled, and so forth, then there probably isn't much difference in buying a $900 SC or a $2200 SC. You'll end up doing the same work to either of them. Whichever one has the best starting foundation (the body) is the one you want....and by the time you're done spending money the $1300 difference one way or the other will be forgotten.

    If you looking for a good driver to slowly fix up while in regular use, then upgrading out of the sub-$1000 category may be required.

    Personally, I've mentally budgeted $8000 to make my project SC into an extra clean, fully sorted driver with just a few simple mods added in. it should roll out of my garage in 6 months or so and we'll all see it I met my goal...and my budget

    Do you think I'd enjoy driving an SC? I think I would - and I really love that supercharger whine!
    Don't ask me! I only put 5 miles on mine since buying it a few weeks ago. So far I have nothing to show except a big pile of parts and a very rapdly growing MasterCard statement. I certainly hope it'll be worth all the effort.

    As for supercharger whine....yes...its pretty neat. This is my #2 supercharged car, the other being an XJR, and I still sorta smile whenever I hear "the whine" on that car. I think the SC will be even more fun even if its not as fast.

    Anyhow, these are not rare cars. Do some shopping around.

    Good luck
    DD

  9. #9
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    Excellent advise, DougD, thanks.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by 89scott View Post
    then I'll have a decent budget to work with and could afford a pretty nice SC.
    Had two very nice ones pop onto the radar just today. Not my cars and I don't know the owners. They are local and I'd be happy to help broker, however.
    -=-=[1]=-=-
    $5,000
    (photos after the jump)
    -1990 35th Anniv. w/long list of mods... 5 speed

    (Specs)
    -3.8L super charged (intercooled) V-6
    -5 spd manual
    -independent rear suspension

    (Full option Package)
    -dual full power seats
    -leather and suede seating
    -full power moon roof
    -automatic high beam dimmer
    -sequential wipers

    (New parts)
    -Optima red top battery
    -Starter
    -both left and right rear bearings
    -left hub
    -Tune up done 4 months ago.

    (Tires)
    -Firestone Firehawk SZ50 225/60/ZR16 18" Cobra rims are on right now..

    (Suspension)
    -Tokico Allumina 2 way adj shocks/struts
    -Eibach Pro kit lowering springs (1.5")
    -Addco 3/4 sway bars front/rear
    -Kenny brown front strut brace

    (Drivetrain)
    -B&m ripper short shifter
    -Lincoln Mark VIII aluminum rear 8.8 Diff reinforced and shimmed
    (rebuilt June '06)
    -Ford 3.27 gears

    (Exhaust)
    -Borla Stainless cat-back dual exhaust
    -Catco Hi-flow cats
    -Coy miller race engines down tubes
    -kooks jet-hot coated equal length headers

    (Engine intake)
    -ZR motor sports cold air intake w/ upgraded k&n filter
    -Pro -m mass air flow sensor (chrome) calibrated for #38 injectors
    -bbk throttle body
    -ported and extrude honed 1994-95 inlet plenum
    -Magnum powers S-model high flow super charger
    -5% overdrive pulley
    -Magnum powers classic raised super charger top

    (Fuel)
    -Holley/Walbro 190 lph fuel pump
    -ford racing #38 injectors

    (Exterior)
    -6 year old maaco paint job
    -20% luminar centiar window tint
    -custom clear corners
    -black ford emblem
    -Xtra moon roof glass with complete perfect seal

    (lighting)
    -modified and polished headlight housings
    -Piaa dual driving/foglights amber foglights wired to factory switch, 110 watt -nokya super white cornering lamps
    -Raybrig super white license plate lamps

    (Interior)
    -Silver Faced reverse indiglo gauges
    -Blue import intelligence hyper needle
    -Nordsko REd outside temp gauge (a pillar gauge pod)
    -auto meter phantom air /fuel ratio gauge (a pillar gauge pod)
    -MOMO Phantom Shift knob
    -blue interior lighting Raybrig super white map and courtesy door lights

    (Stereo)
    -Panasonic stereo (50x4)
    -dual mono block amp with (2) 1000 watt subs
    -1.5 capacitor (1)
    -(4) pioneer watt speakers

    -=-=[2]=-=-
    $9,900 (nearly $40k invested)
    - 1994 Ford Thunderbird SVT clone 4.6L Supercharged SC


    ENGINE MODIFICATIONS:
    •2000 4.6 PI MOTOR-Balanced/blueprinted with JE PISTONS, MANLEY RODS, COBRA FORGED CRANK, BALANCED AND BLUEPRINTED. P&P HEADS WITH HIGH RATE SPRINGS (Fox Lake), TITANIUM FASTENERS, Upgraded oil system with FOMO Motor Sport oil pump. Motor was built by Jack Baer Racing of Hemet, CA. for a supercharged application with compression of 9:1
    •ALLEN ENGINE DEVELOPMENT SUPER CHARGER
    EATON M90 @ 8 LBS Boost
    •ALLEN ENGINE DEVELOPMENT Air/Water Intercooler
    •220 LPH Fuel Pump
    •C & L 80 MM Mass Air Sensor
    •NOLOGY Capacitor Spark Plug Wires
    •CUSTOM ALUMINUM INTAKE W/ K&N panel filter
    •FORD MOTORSPORT 40 lb INJECTORS,
    •EEC REFLASH, 7000 RPM REDLINE
    •ACCUFAB ADJUSTABLE FUEL PRESSURE REGULATOR
    •REMOTE OIL FILTER

    TRANSMISSION MODIFICATIONS:
    •COBRA 1998 T-45 5 SPEED W/ custom shifter box
    •B&M Short Shifter
    •FORD RACING Stage II CLUTCH,

    DRIVELINE MODIFICATIONS:
    •INLAND EMPIRE 3 ¾” Balanced Aluminum Driveshaft
    •3:27.1 Rear Gear
    •FORD SC 1 ½” Half Shafts
    •FORD SC “TRACTION-LOC” Differential w/ Friction Mod

    SUSPENSION MODIFICATIONS:
    •EIBACH PRO SPRINGS 1 ½" DROP
    •BILSTEIN GAS SHOCKS
    •CHROME COBRA SVT R 17 X 9
    •TIRES – 275/45/17 rear & 245/45/17 front
    •BAER Dual Piston 13” F & COBRA 12” R Brakes
    •KENNY BROWN-ENGINE/STRUT/REAR SUSPENSION/F&R SHOCK TOWER and K Frame braces.
    •UPGRADED Rear Sway Bar with poly bushings all around

    EXHAUST MODIFICATIONS:
    •JBA CERAMIC COATED HEADERS
    •MN12 DOWNTUBES WITH HIGH FLOW CATS
    •DUAL EXHAUST 2 ½ IN, X PIPE, DYNOMAX SUPERTURBO MUFFLERS

    BODY MODIFICATIONS:
    •FORD THUNDERBIRD SC GROUND EFFECTS
    •FORD THUNDERBIRD SC REAR BUMBER
    •CUSTOM TINT FULL WINDOW TINT
    •CLEAR CORNER LENSES / HYPERWHITE HALOGEN LIGHTS
    •Custom Rear Downforce spoiler

    INTERIOR MODIFICATIONS:
    •CORBEAU GTS II SEATS IN CUSTOM LEATHER
    •RCI 5 POINT HARNESS
    •BILLET Gauge Cluster Bezel
    •PIONEER 200 Watt CD/MP3 Player
    •SONY XPLOD 1000W Amplifier
    •AUDIOBAHN 10” Subwoofers

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    6
    Wow, a couple of sweet SC's there w/ tons of mods and upgrades. Much to consider here. Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Salem, OR
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    6,285
    Quote Originally Posted by 89scott View Post
    couple of sweet SC's there
    No kidding. I'm tempted to go look at the '90. I already have a 35th w/auto trans...guess it wouldn't hurt to have another w/5-speed - one stock and one mod'ed

  13. #13
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    Bmore
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    175k SC? *knocks on 89scott's head* Anyone in there McFly?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    460
    Quote Originally Posted by 89scott View Post
    I'm planning on buying an 89 SC this weekend, potentially. I haven't seen or heard the car yet and would like to get a sanity check from the forum members here before I travel down to see it.

    I've owned a lot of different makes and models of performance cars over the past 30 years and have always wanted to pick up an 89+ T-Bird SC to play with. I found a white one about an hour or so out of town with 175K miles on it that's going for $900. The only issue with the car, besides the higher mileage and a few small spots of surface rust, is a bad clutch. The motor, tranny, electrical, brakes and tires are all supposed to be in pretty good shape.

    I've done a fair amount of research on the forum here and elsewhere on the Net on replacement performance clutches, like the SPEC Stage 1, 2, 3's and others, as well as common repair issues and potential problems. I'm a DIY kind of guy and enjoy doing most of the work on my cars.

    I get obsessive about my cars. When I think I want something - like I think I want this car - then passion and obsession take over for logic and reason. I'm sure some of you know what I mean. So, I really need a sanity check from you all, so I can better understand what to look for on the car, potential repair issues with the 89 at 175K miles, what I should consider ordering in terms of the clutch kit and related parts, etc.

    I'm not so concerned about the mileage, unless I really should be. Do you think $900 is a good price for the car as I've described? Realistically, what am I looking at in terms of part costs only (labor cost is wrench time for me and beer and steak for my mechanic) to do the clutch and clutch-related parts properly? Any suggestions on particular performance parts I should consider to fix it up right?

    Thanks in advance for your input.
    No need to settle for cancer car plenty of Southern cars around with little or no rust. That being said if the car is nearby as it is not a bad price for an almost running SC. Expect head gaskets to be needed if not now then soon especially if there are any performance mods on the car. Plugs and wires always nice and they are a pain in the arc to do. $500 would be a better price and motivated seller will sell. Good luck...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Longview Washington
    Posts
    285
    Quote Originally Posted by KMT View Post
    Had two very nice ones pop onto the radar just today. Not my cars and I don't know the owners. They are local and I'd be happy to help broker, however.
    -=-=[1]=-=-
    $5,000
    (photos after the jump)
    -1990 35th Anniv. w/long list of mods... 5 speed


    Good example if what I was trying to say.....there's no way a guy could duplicate all this for just $5000

    Cheers
    DD

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