Congratulations to Chuck Warren (FEP Username: Chuck W
) as December’s Ride of the Month Winner! Chuck’s story begins in 1996 after his 1980 Capri RS Turbo with a complete SVO drive-train and suspension swap was tragically totaled by another driver turning across traffic. Luckily Chuck was OK, but the Capri was not. At that point, Chuck decided he wanted a 1983 T-Bird just like the ’83 T-Bird he had given his Ex-Wife to drive. Chuck quickly found another ’83 T-Bird after which the modifications and customizing began.
Chuck’s ambitions were high and ultimately the only stock ’83 T-Bird pieces left were the uni-body shell, the dash, and some wiring. Everything else has been replaced, modified, or customized to his desires. The car was originally a 5.0/AOD car when first became a 5.0/SROD car, but that didn't last long and finally Chuck pulled out all that nonsense and thus became the 2.3/T5 swap as you see today.
The 2.3/T5 swap included a LA3 (87-88 Turbo Coupe ECU) to begin with, but ultimately that made way for the current version that is controlled by a MegaSquirt ECU, a T3/T4 turbo, 3” exhaust, and a custom FMIC set-up. All of the power of this high tech turbocharged engine is controlled by a suspension that has been tweaked over the years with various improvements and upgrades that include Cobra brakes.
According to Chuck the biggest challenge in getting the T-Bird to its current condition is the fact that it is not a Mustang. Although Chuck was lucky enough to work at Kenny Brown Performance when he first purchased the car, he still had to modify and make his own parts much of the time. This is thanks to the lack of aftermarket support for the T-Birds and the lack of aftermarket performance products specific to the T-bird. The other big challenge for Chuck is the fact that he has been modifying the T-Bird since 1996. So looking back now, there are a few things that he would do differently today. As with so many things, plans and ideas change over time and when you have a build time that spans 18 years, it’s easy to see how sometimes you end up completely reworking something that you recently completed
When it was time to repaint the car, Chuck wanted to preserve the stock lines, which to this day are just plain sexy. So he paid tribute to the 1983-84 Turbo Coupes and painted it Turbo Coupe Silver. The choice was made even easier due to the fact that this was also the car’s original paint color. Chuck also chose to paint on the black side window outline rather than the OEM tape. Chuck cleaned up the body lines by removing all the emblems and badges from the car and then added a custom flair with the lower side scoops, a nod to Chuck’s favorite Mustang the M81 McLaren, being the only body modification. This gives the car a subtle nature, but still you know something is up.
Although the T-Bird hasn't seen the appropriate amount of attention recently, Chuck has held onto the T-Bird for so long because he built a T-Bird that he wanted and loves even today. Chuck does have some additional suspension goodies and a couple of engine swap possibilities just waiting in the garage. So when the itch finally gets to Chuck you will see some significant changes in the T-Bird in the future. Thanks to Chuck for sharing his 1983 T-Bird Turbo Coupe Clone with us this month. Thanks to all the FEP members that nominated vehicles for the Ride of the Month this year and thanks to all the Nominees. This has been a great year and I am sure 2015 will be just as exciting with a great group of members and a great group of cars!