Thunderbird, Cougar, and Supercoupe Information

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Specifications for '89 through '97 Thunderbirds and Cougars

Many of us would like to know more about our cars. Here is information regarding the various packages, production numbers, and more for MN12 Thunderbirds and Cougars through '97.

Thunderbirds included 4 main packages over the years:

  • Base coupe (produced 1989 - 1992, V6, automatic)
  • Sport (produced 1992 only, v8, automatic)
  • LX (produced all years, V6 until 1991, V6 or V8 after, automatic)
  • Supercoupe (produced 1989 - 1995, supercharged V6, automatic or 5spd manual)

In addition to these there were also 1990 35th anniversary and 1995 40th anniversary trims.

Cougars shared many parts of the MN12 platform, including drivetrain options. Packages included the LS until 1993, the XR7, a 25th anniversary trim in 1992, and a 30th anniversary in '97.

The 3 engine options changed moderately over time. The standard V6 pushrod produced 140 horsepower which increased slightly in later years. The V8 was a 200 hp pushrod until 1994, when it changed to a 205 hp modular motor. The Supercharged V6 pushrod produced 210 hp and 315 ft lbs of torque until 1994 when it was upgraded to 230 hp and 330 ft lbs.

Transmissions were limited to a 4 speed automatic which became the electronically controlled 4R70W in 1994 and the 5 Speed M5R2 developed with Mazda available as an option on the Supercoupe package between 1989 and 1995.

Production numbers are as follows:

3.8L T-Bird: 102,059
3.8L SC: 12,809
3.8L SC 5-speed manuals: 8,041
Cougar (w/XR-7 included): 102,275
Total 1989: 217,143

3.8L T-Bird: 82,636
3.8L SC: 21,966
3.8L SC 5-speed manuals: 6,067
Cougar (w/XR-7): 76,467
XR-7 breakdown, Auto: 4,463 5-Speed: 2,238
35th Anniversary edition: 3,371
Total 1990: 181,069

5.0L T-Bird: 16,232
3.8L T-Bird: 59,543
3.8L SC: 7,039
3.8L SC 5-speed manuals: 1,905
Cougar (w/XR-7): 63,701
XR-7 breakdown, Auto: 4,129 5-speed: 841
Total 1991: 146,515

5.0L T-Bird: 12,562
3.8L T-Bird: 57,119
3.8L SC: 4,212
3.8L SC 5-speed manuals: 1,256
Cougar (w/XR-7): 49,254
Total 1992: 123,147

5.0L T-Bird: 19,587
3.8L T-Bird: 106,234
3.8L SC: 3,891
3.8L SC 5-speed manuals: 1,038
Cougar (w/XR-7): 79,700
Total 1993: 209,412

4.6L T-Bird: 66,657
3.8L T-Bird: 51,056
3.8L SC: 2,647
3.8L SC 5-speed: 722
Cougar: 71,026
Total 1994: 191,386

4.6L T-Bird: 94,155
3.8L T-Bird: 14,927
3.8L SC: 5,741
3.8L SC 5-speed: 574
Cougar: 60,201
Total 1995: 175,024

4.6L T-Bird: 86,522
3.8L T-Bird: 25,780
Cougar: 40,700
Total 1996: 153,002

4.6L T-Bird: 66,320
3.8L T-Bird: 18,956
Cougar: 37,240
Total 1997: 122,516"

More detailed discussion about the Thunderbird from Wikipedia is found below..

1989-1997 "Super Birds"
In 1989, the new, much anticipated Thunderbird model premiered. Classified as the MN-12 (Mid-size North American Project 12), the Thunderbird now had four-wheel independent suspension and a slightly smaller, more aerodynamic body. Engine options fell to only two for 1989 as Ford dropped the V8 option for the new T-bird. The LX model was powered by the 140 hp (104 kW) 3.8 L OHV V6 which many felt was underpowered for the nearly 3800 lb (1725 kg) car. A 210 hp (157 kW) supercharged and intercooled version of the same 3.8 L, available only in the top of the line Thunderbird Super Coupe ("SC"). The Thunderbird SC was Motor Trend's Car of the Year for 1989.

In 1991, the Thunderbird's engine options were finally once again expanded to three, and included once again the popular and begged for 5.0 L OHV V8, rated at 200 hp (149 kW). In 1994, the Thunderbird received some minor exterior and interior styling updates (including cup holders, notable missing on the 89-93 models) as well, but the most dramatic change was the new 205 hp (153 kW) 4.6 L SOHC V8 which replaced the iconic and much loved 5.0. The 4.6 brought with it an updated electronic control system (EEC-V), and an electronically controlled 4R70W transmission. The Super Coupe continued on with the same supercharged V6 as before for but now with 230 hp (172 kW) and 330 ft·lbf (447 N·m) of torque. These increases in output would be short lived however as the Thunderbird Super Coupe was discontinued after the 1995 model year.

In 1996, the Thunderbird received its last styling update. Available in LX (available with V6 OR V8) or Sport (V8 only) trim. Both featured redesigned headlights/taillights, smoother re-styled front/rear fascias, body side cladding, new wheels (15" on LX, and 16" on Sport), and a slight hood bulge, which was necessary to fit the updated 4.6 L engines taller, now composite, intake manifold. V-8 models still made 205 hp, but now made 280 ft·lbf (380 N·m) of torque, up 15 ft·lbf (20 N·m). The 3.8 L V6 continued to make 145 hp and 215 ft·lbf (291 N·m) of torque and was the base engine in the LX. The gear ratio dropped from 3.08 that had been the only ratio offered on the 89-95 to 3.27 giving the big car a bit more grunt out of the stoplight. In 1997, Ford made no changes at all, trying to save as much money as they could on the floundering coupe. As a result, the 1997 Thunderbird's appeal suffered even more, as the only options available were a Power Sunroof, Power driver Seat, Remote Keyless Entry or a CD player. A low drag co-efficient contributed to a impressively consistent 24-28 mpg on the highway even at speeds over 75 mph. The last four-seat Thunderbird rolled off the assembly line in Lorain, Ohio on September 4, 1997.

There was some difficulty in naming the car, with suggestions ranging from the exotic to the ridiculous (Hep Cat, Beaver, Detroiter, Runabout, Arcturus, Savile, El Tigre, and Coronado were submitted among the 5,000 suggestions). One serious suggestion was Whizzer. Crusoe offered a $250 suit to anyone who could come up with a better name.
Stylist Alden "Gib" Giberson submitted Thunderbird as part of a list. Giberson never claimed his prize, settling for a $95 suit and an extra pair of trousers from Saks Fifth Avenue.
According to Palm Springs Life magazine, the car's final name came not from the Native American symbol as one might expect, but from an ultra-exclusive housing tract in what would later be incorporated as Rancho Mirage, California: Thunderbird Heights.


Blogger TradingCourses said...

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November 09, 2005 5:32 PM  
Anonymous dick said...

I connot find any data about a 1996 4.6 supercharger bird, how many were built, specifications etc
thanks for your attention

February 21, 2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Hi Dick. After checking various sources, I have determined there was no 4.6L supercharged Thunderbird produced by the Ford factory.

There were two periods in history (to my knowledge) when Ford released a supercharged Thunderbird.

In 1957 a special "F’ series Thunderbird had a 312 cid motor with special heads, cam, distributor and 4-barrel carburetor. There was a Paxton-McCulloch VR57 supercharger which "force feeds" the carburetor with up to 6 psi of compressed air. McCulloch rated this setup at 360 horsepower, however Ford indicated a rating of 300 hp SAE Gross.

Then in 1989, Ford produced a Thunderbird based on the MN12 platform with a 3.8Liter V6 engine supercharged via an Eaton corporation M90 roots type blower. This car came with either a 4 speed automatic or a 5 speed M5R2 transmission and was rated 215 hp & 315 ft lbs of torque. In 1994 This increased to 230hp, and 330 ft lbs. The Supercoupe package, as it was refered to, was discontinued in 1995. Ford's 4.6 Liter V8 was first used in the Thunderbird in 1994. Before this, it used the 5.0 V8 pushrod.

There are many aftermarket supercharged 4.6Liter Thunderbirds, made by individual parties and companies.

Not exactly the answer you were looking for I think, but I hope it helps..

February 22, 2006 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Joe Bats said...

Hi do you guys know if Ford (Mercury) produced any cougars or thunderbirds powered by a 4.6 v8 with a 5 spd? I'd really like to make my Cat stick, but I need to know what tranny would bolt up. Thanks for any help you can give me.


February 01, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger michael.pogue said...

I have recently purachase a ford 3.8 liter supercharger off line to put on my 93 t-bird can anyone help with the what all I might have to do to put it on. i.e different injectors, or computer adjustments?

May 13, 2007 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to the website
That is where all of us that own SCs go to talk shop, that site will have all the info and know how you will need

May 19, 2007 1:09 AM  
Blogger ponza gtr said...


June 24, 2007 5:22 PM  
Blogger Quantikev said...

Hi ponza gtr.

About swapping an Eaton m90 to a 5.0L v8 motor:

I looked through some forums I found on Google.. most people seem to agree that the m90 is too inefficient and hard to swap for a 5.0 v8.

Even so, some have tried it anyway. Look here:

and more info about the m90 swap here:

the supercharger swap is discussed here too:

Many seem to agree there are kits with other superchargers that can be installed much easier - and give more power.

Perhaps that would not be as unique though :)

Goodluck my friend!

June 25, 2007 10:12 AM  
Anonymous wakko_99 said...

I have a 96 t-bird, 3.8L engine that has 141K on it. I would like to rebuild another engine to put into the car, keeping with the v-6, and would love to have a supercharger. 95 was the last year, and in 96, a few computer additions were added to the engine. What years of engines could I use and still not have a problem? I don't want to get another computer, nor do I want to get one special made for the application. Also, how much can I do in a stock engine, as in roller rockers, cams, etc, before I have computer issues???

August 29, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hey guys, great site - very informative. I am about to purchase the running gear out of a 1992 TBird. It is a 302 HO. I'm pretty sure that the Mark VII HO's were rated @ 225 HP and I thought that ALL 302 HO motors produced that year were the same. What - if any - differences MIGHT exist across platforms. Basically, I just want to make sure the heads, pistons and cam are the same.

December 26, 2007 4:19 PM  
Blogger Kurt said...

It appears the production numbers you have found for the automatic SC's are actually the combined numbers of automatic and manuals. The information can be found at

July 13, 2008 11:13 AM  
Blogger bengspfldil said...

hey I have a 97 v-6 limited edition thunderbird, how many were made and what's so special about them?

June 11, 2009 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Macon said...

Hey I have a 1996 Thunderbird LX 4.6 and I was wondering if there were any super coupes produced with the 3.73 ring and pinion. I want to change mine to the 3.73 and I was wondering if any super coupes had it or if it would just be better to purchace the kit from Thanks.

August 11, 2010 9:34 PM  

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