Holley Ford Festival 2021 - Adam Delamielleure's 1988 Ford Thunderbird

By: Kaleb Kelley | 10/07/2021 < Back to Motor Life Home

The All Ford Car Show was stacked full of impressive original cars along with highly modified custom cars. Adam Delamielleure’s 1988 Ford Thunderbird “T-Yote” bridged the gap. You could easily walk by the car and assume it was original and just very clean. The flashiest thing on the car were the wheels. Thankfully, we spotted it while the hood was open so we could get the full story.

Ford Fest 21 Coyote Thunderbird Wheels

We’ll say it again and again: wheel choice is everything. Delamielleure's nailed it for his T-Bird with these Aodhán DS08 wheels.

Adam’s Thunderbird is the last year of the Fox-derived Thunderbirds that utilized the same engines as the Mustang. Famous for being the shape that Bill Elliott used to set the blazing 212.809 MPH record at Talladega in 1987, the 1988 Thunderbird would be the last year for the platform. In 1989, the MN12 Thunderbird would debut, with the goal of moving the Thunderbird (and it's corporate cousins Mercury Cougar and Lincoln Mark series) upmarket. Oddly, the platform would debut without a V8 under the hood, with a supercharged V6 filling the role instead. Ford would capitulate in 1991 and put the 5.0L in for 1991-93 and later, the 4.6L Modular from 1994 to 1997, but Ford never seemed too keen on performance after the Fox-body Thunderbird, instead leaving the car to fill the role of a personal luxury coupe.

Ford Fest 2021 Coyote Thunderbird interior

The Thunderbird's interior has two tells that show this is more than your everyday variant: the Dakota Digital dash that hides behind the factory face, and the six-speed manual transmission's shifter.

Speaking of the desire to have a modern V8, Adam decided his Thunderbird needed to improve with the times. He ditched his worn-out 5.0L V8 in favor of a modern Coyote powerplant. This engine is much larger than the original Windsor but somehow looks perfectly at home under the hood. To somehow who didn’t know better, you could easily convince them that this was OEM. He also kept the transmission from the Mustang with a 6-speed manual in his luxury hot rod.

It was enjoyable to see people walk by the car, almost disregarding it until they noticed the powerplant. Suddenly, a clean Thunderbird sitting on the show field turned into a car they spent 10 minutes walking around and admiring. Of all the Coyote swaps we saw this weekend, this was one of the most well-executed and cleanest installs of all of them. He even managed to incorporate the Thunderbird logo into the engine cover. The subtle nature of Adam's Thunderbird is what really makes us love the car. Shut the hood and roll the windows up, and it's a beautiful 1980s ride that looks very well kept. Open the hood, roll the windows down and the modifications are so subtle that they hide in plain sight.

Ford Fest 2021 Coyote Thunderbird hood open

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