Spotted in China: Ford Thunderbird Elan (ninth generation)

Published on June 8, 2012 by Tycho de Feijter

Spotted in China: Ford Mustang Elan

A very special find, seen on the premises of the Beijing Film Academy. This is a ninth generation Ford Thunderbird, made from 1983 until 1988. The Elan model however was only made from 1984 until 1986, most were powered by the 5.0 Windsor V8. The Ford Thunderbird was never exported to China so how it ended up in Beijing is a mystery. It could be an ex-diplomatic car or it could be an ex-foreign company car. Foreign-registred companies were allowed to import their own cars in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Spotted in China: Ford Mustang Elan

This silver Thunderbird was clearly abandoned and in a very bad shape. It was parked in a small corner and left to die a long long time ago. Tires were flat, bodywork rotten and dirty, and the Ford-badge was gone. The area is often used to shoot actual movies, so maybe this fine Ford was once a star in some odd Chinese movie. Or maybe it belonged to some hot shot director who dumped it for an Audi like he would dump his wife for a young and willing ‘actress’. Well, who knows?

Spotted in China: Ford Mustang Elan

Thunder on my old beauty…


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  1. jeff- June 9, 2012 Reply

    There used to be one simmilar to this near my friends house in Lumicang Hutong just inside of the east second ring road. I always thought it would be sweet to roll around beijing in an 80’s Thunderbird.

  2. cjcz92- June 10, 2012 Reply

    Poor thing!

  3. daveainchina- June 11, 2012 Reply

    A few questions.

    Why do you call it a mustang elan? I’ve never heard that before, it’s always been a T-Bird to me. Not to be mistaken for a Mustang, it did however share a platform with the Mustang but it was a stretched version and the Lincoln (LSC I think was the name) shared this platform.

    Also I’m pretty sure that is the 6 cylinder not the 8cylinder 5.0 liter. If however it is a 5.0 liter, any chance of finding out if it’s a manual?

    Is the front screwed up? How does this car get around the mandatory scrapping laws here in China?

  4. Tycho de Feyter- June 11, 2012 Reply


    Thanks, fixed the title. I don’t know which engine was under the hood, I only wrote that ‘most’ T-bird Elans had the 5.0. It was an automatic. Front was screwed up a bit. I guess it wasn’t scrapped because it is hiding… Looked like it wasn’t used for years.

  5. MY83T- June 15, 2012 Reply

    That is indeed a 1984 Thunderbird Elan. The élan differed from the standard Thunderbird in several ways. It came with more standard luxury options, and it had a nicer luxury interior. The V-6 was standard, and you could order the V-8 as an option. The v-8 is far less common. The exterior was different in a few ways. The car came with Chrome side mirrors, special door pillars, and élan badging on the trunk lid. There was also a élan badge on the right side of the dash. The only manual 84 thunderbirds were the Turbo Coupe models. No other Thunderbirds base model, élan, or fila came with manual transmission.

  6. MY83T- June 15, 2012 Reply

    upon further scrutiny, thats a 85, not a 84……you can tell by the taillights, and the crescent shaped Thunderbirds on the side of the car.

  7. Luis- December 23, 2012 Reply

    It is an 86 thunderbird elan it came with the 5.0 i have the same one in California

  8. Luis- December 23, 2012 Reply

    4 speed automatic aod tranny
    With limited slip diff

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