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  1. #1

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    This article is from the July 1989 issue of HotRod called "Ballistic Boosters" by John Baechtel.

    The '89 Thunderbird Super Coupe and the '89 Turbo Grand Prix have emerged as premier examples of the great new American performance sedan. Hot rodders who yearn for the utility and convience of an intermediate or full-size performance sedan have had precious little to choose form in recent years. Those who can recall the days when 427 Galaxies and Impalas stalked the boulevard have found most current models grossly inadequate from a total-performance standpoint. While those early behemoths were ill equipped to handle the curves, they more than made up for their shortcomings with comfort, utility, and awesome acceleration. The big, dumb horsepower boosters of the '60s literally spoiled us with their smooth ride, cavernous interiors, and incredible power.

    In contrast, the '70s and '80s become a lifeless void of dull, half-hearted cars that never lived up to our expectations. The Buick Grand National, and, to a lesser degree, the Turbo T-Bird, were notable exceptions, but great pretenders such as the underpowered Monte Carlo SS and Cutlass 442 fell far below our contemporary performance glide path.

    Now Ford and Pontiac have charted a promising course out of these performance doldrums with two hot sedans that deliver world-class performance with a full complement of hot rod techniques and hardware. What hot rodder could have forseen that blown T-Birds and turbocharged Pontiacs would one day stalk the streets? Who would ever have believed it? But HOT ROD is here to tell you: We are in the midst of a performance renaissance that will one day be revered as a golden age of performance.

    Thunder Bird Super Coupe
    The Thunderbird Super Coupe may well become a landmark vehicle in the history of American-built performance luxury cars. With 14-second quarter mile capability and 6-second zero to 60 times, this supercharged Ford charmer is guaranteed to steal your wallet in a heartbeat. Perceptive hot rodders will immediately note that the Super Coupe is not as fast as the (out of production) Buick Grand National, but any comparison other than brute acceleration leaves the highly respected Buick far behind, and the Super Coupe in little need of apology. The Super Coupe's greatest appeal is its completeness and the high degree of execution at every level. While Buick continues to view the Grand National as a frivolous "boy racer" exercise that it would rather forget, Ford has deftly executed the next-generation performance sedan.

    The Super Coupe has it all-styleing, performance, comfort, and more. With antilock braking and selective ride control complementing its ample power reserve, this Thunderbird truly delivers the kind of performance American auto enthusiasts and hot rodders can appreciate. While we disdain the idea of snob comparisons between then Thunderbird and offshore performance cars such as the BMW 635csi, the Super Coupe is clearly crafted from a superior mold that mkaes it formidable competition for these world-class performers while still maintaining its unique American-built character. Nearly as fast as contemporary musclecars and capable of generating enough lateral force to seriously elevate your pucker factor, the all-new Thunderbird is a total performance sedan that is currently unmatched by any domestically built car.

    Pontiac Turbo Grand Prix
    The new Turbo Grand Prix differs significantly from the Super Coupe in more ways than meets the eyes. First off, it's a limited-production car with only 2000 units scheduled for production. Unlike Ford, GM is unwilling to commit substantial resources to a market it perceives to be quite limited. Short sighted as this may be, Pontiac still has th best chance of pulling it off because it's the most aggressive division at GM and bears the company's performance mandate.

    While the Thunderbird Super Coupe is so well execited that it seems certain to draw regular Thunderbird buyers upward to Super Coupe ownership, Pontiac's Turbo Grand Prix may prompt similar behavior if only there are enough to go around. Sinister and aggressive looking in turbo form, the repackagers at ASC/McLaren have done a terrific job of crafting a thoroughly evil-looking Grand Prix. In basic black the Turbo Grand Prix is flat scary, while the red version announces its arrival like a three-alarm fire.

    One can only admire the results that McLaren's turbocharging wizards have wrought from GM's least inspiring powerplant-the 2.8L V6. At 3.1 liters and turbocharged, the McLaren version pumps out a hefty 205hp with 220lbs.-ft torque at 3200rpm. Unfortunately, it's not enough in a 240-hp/300lbs.-ft world. While the engine is smooth and efficient, it is simply a case of the wrong powerplant driving the wrong end of the car in a vehicle that would easily be as awesome as the Super Coupe, given more displacement, more power, and rear-wheel drive. As a front-driver the Turbo Grand Prix is all that it can be, which is quite good on its own merits, but it could have been so much more. Wrap this stunning hardbody around a good RWD chassis, slip in the same engine that powers the Pontiac Anniversary Trans Am, and watch it fly. McDonnell/ Douglas, eat your heart out!

    Inside the Grand Prix you'll find a luxurious interior with individual buckets front and rear. The dash is excessively complicated by Super Coupe standards, but some items such as the Heds-up Display (HUD) for the speedometer and turn signal indicators are high tech enough to be enjoyable.

    The Turbo Grand Prix is very civilized and easily capable of high 15-second quarter-mile times with zero to 60 numbers in the high sevens- admirable numbers for a very capable front-wheel drive automobile.

    What we have here are America's two hottest high-performance sporty sedans; a front-driver and a rear-driver, a turbo and a supercharger, and most certainly the best choices we've had in years from either end of the scale. Because of the built-in limitations of front-wheel drive, the Grand Prix connot hope to generate the kind of acceleration numbers available from the Super Coupe, but that in itself isn't the reason enough to declare it inferior when, infact, it is superior on its own level. The most disappointing difference of all is the fact that Ford is willing to built the total performance Super Coupe package right up front, while GM continues to pigeon-hole its high-performance vehicles with low-volume, limited production runs that suggest only token acknowledgement of performance-car buyers instead of a healthy respect for their untapped purchasing power.
    On another note, there is a HOT ROD model with the cars in a few pictures. She is leaning against the front fender on the TGP smiling, but with the SC, she is behind it holding a spotlight just looking at the SC. She also leaning on the passanger side fender of the TGP with the hood opening, smiling again. But no where near the SC. The TGP has sex appeal!

    I pretty much aggreed with this guys article, why didn't GM make this car RWD!?
    2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP<br />Stock for now...

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Nice Find!

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    Re: Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Quote Originally Posted by 90TGP
    I pretty much aggreed with this guys article, why didn't GM make this car RWD!?
    It would have been too much $$$ to design a whole separate platform for a niche market. Much easier and cheaper to use an existing platform. It would only have been RWD had the Grand Prix been RWD to begin with, and the Grand Prix would have never been RWD because GM had their sights set on competing with higher volume sellers like imports and the Taurus/Sable.

  4. #4

    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Im just curious but did the Mercury Cougar ever get any performance options like the TB SC?
    94 Chevy 1500, 350ci, 4x4, Z-71
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  5. #5
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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Quote Originally Posted by BurneroftheRice
    Im just curious but did the Mercury Cougar ever get any performance options like the TB SC?
    Simply put, yes. They had the same engine as the SC's in 89 and 90 if you got the XR7 version. The production numbers for the XR7's for those years are

    89: Auto = 2,225 ---- Manual = 2,238

    90: Auto = 3,288 ---- Manual = 841

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    The TGP may have been a limited production model, but at least GM was able to sell it unlike Ford. I some how doubt Ford was able to sell that many more than 2000 SC's in the supercharged form.

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    I've seen many more supercoupes in my time than I have TGP's..

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Yeah, but they made SC's for a lot more than 2 years.

    <br />1995 Cutlass Supreme Convertible
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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    The 89-90 SC's are all over. I think they made about 10k between those years.

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    10yrs ago, I used to see SC's every now and then.
    5yrs ago, they seemed as scarce as TGP's, maybe not quite as bad, but not common.
    Now, the SC's are quite rare as well, and so are that generation T-bird in general, at least in my area. I guess they all went to the big junkyard in the sky. As few new T-birds as they built (the retro ones), I still see them more often than the previous ones. The Eclipse-shaped Cougar, on the other hand, sold like hotcakes. They're everywhere.

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    Forum Moderator mfewtrail's Avatar
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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    I see a couple SC's around here pretty often(one red, two titanium ones, one white). I believe one of the titanium colored cars was my friends old SC(has the same exhaust tips), it ran high 14's w/ a couple mods. Here are the supercharged T-bird and Cougar production numbers(I posted them in another thread here recently as well).

    http://www.sccoa.com/faq/prodnums.php

  12. #12

    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    wow, so ford got 300 lb/ft from THEIR 3.8, eh?
    Yeah, it's still on the road. 219,982 mi


  13. #13

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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    I've only seen one SC in my area, a black one. But the regular ones are as common as regular GP's of the same gen.

    A 300ftlb rwd car is easier to control then a 300ftlv fwd car.
    2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP<br />Stock for now...

  14. #14
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    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian P
    wow, so ford got 300 lb/ft from THEIR 3.8, eh?
    Yep, I believe it was 93-95 that got 330 lb/ft. The 3.8's had a decent amount of torque NA I believe...but only had 140hp.

  15. #15

    Ballistic Boosters: 89 TGP Vs. 89 T-Bird SC

    The supercharged ones aren't 140 horse :shock:
    Yeah, it's still on the road. 219,982 mi


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