Ford Thunderbird 1983 PPG Pace Car autoshow

Ford Thunderbird – 1983 PPG Pace Car

Jack Roush had a hand in this PPG Pace Car concept and now it lives in his museum.

History

The first year of Ford’s redesigned Thunderbird was 1983, transforming the car from a boxy land yacht to an ’80s luxury sport coupe. This custom one-off concept was also introduced in 1983, with styling features that would be seen in much later Thunderbirds. As with many of the PPG Pace Cars of this era, most of the body was redesigned for better aerodynamics and was never available on production Thunderbirds. In addition to being shown at the 1984 Chicago Auto Show, the car also saw track use as a PPG Pace Car. At some point the front bumper and headlights were very slightly modified as shown in the photos where the Thunderbird features a 2-tone paint scheme with orange stripe and square light bar.

Specifications

The front facia, side skirts and rear are one-off parts designed specifically for this vehicle. Note the flush tinted headlight covers for improved aerodynamics. While improving the looks of the vehicle, these modifications were functional for high speed use on the track. The suspension and engine modifications are unknown, but Jack Roush tuned the Ford PPG Pace Cars of this era, including the 1983 Mustang Concept and this ’84 Thunderbird. Other modifications are unknown.

Current Status

The 1983 Ford Thunderbird Concept can be seen at The Roush Automotive Collection, in Livonia, MI.

Ford Thunderbird 1983 PPG Pace Car autoshow

The 1984 Chicago Auto Show

Ford-Thunderbird-1983-PPG-Pace-Car-front-track Ford-Thunderbird-1983-PPG-Pace-Car-rear-track

The Roush Automotive Collection

Ford Thunderbird 1983 PPG Pace Car CART 

ppg-ford-thunderbord-pace-car-specs

 

3 comments
  • From the 1989-90 edition of “The Men and Machines of Indy Car Racing”, the description for this car:
    400 hp V8 engine with a 5 speed manual transmission painted in iridescent white paint.

  • THIS IS INTERESTING CAUSE I HAVE A 1984 THUNDERBIRD PPG PACE CAR. MY PACE CAR HAS A HISTORY STARTING WITH IT CAME FROM THE PPG MOTORPOOL AND PPG MOTORSPORT MANAGER, JIM CHAPMAN, HAD JACK ROUSH MAKE MODIFICATION SO THAT IT COULD BE USED AS A PACE CAR.

    THE ENGINE IN MY CAR IS A HIGH PERFORMCE 302 HIGH ROLLER AND THE SUSPENSION IS A KONI AIR SUPENSION. THE CAR WAS A GIFT TO KENNY LOWE WHO MANAGED THE PACE CAR TEAM. HOWEVER THE CAR WAS SELDOM USED BECAUSE IT WAS DIFFICULT TO CARRY GUEST CAUSE THE INTERIOR WAS VERY TIGHT AND CRAMPED AND WAS NOT POPULAR WITH THE LADY PACE CAR DRIVERS PLUS KENNY LOWE COULD NOT FIT COMFORTABLY IN IT.

    KENNY SOLD THE CAR TO A SAFETY TEAM MEMBER, GREG PASSUEAR WHO LATER SOLD IT TO ME. The images of the 1983 pace cars do not have the typical “PPG PACE CAR” logo on them like mine. So I am confuse by these cars and images.

    I have the CART photo archives from that period and do not see any of these pace cars on track. So I am bewildered as to these cars unless I am missing something.

    • Hi Dan, I wish I had more info on this 1983 concept to share. I do have a couple pictures of this car at a race, you might recognize the track. I’ll put up the photos shortly.
      I have a couple photos of your car as well: https://ppgpacecars.com/ford-thunderbird-1984-ppg-pace-car/

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