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Nightmare of the '91 Thunderbird

Updated on June 24, 2015

Dream Car Turned Nightmare

Deep Cherry Red

Several months ago I came across a magnificent looking beautiful 1991 red Thunderbird for sale. It was up on blocks, but by all appearances it was in great shape. The deep cherry red paint color had a nice shine, the engine was clean and the interior looked practically new. The tires even appeared to be new and the asking price was ridiculously low…which should have clued me in something was amiss. But no matter what, I was already obsessed with the car and bound and determined to own it.

While I was admiring the vehicles’ sleek lines and wondering what could be wrong with such a fine looking automobile the owner appeared and introduced himself as “Randy”. Randy then launched into his sales pitch. “Beautiful, isn’t she?” he quipped. I reluctantly agreed. No need to appear overly anxious before serious negotiations of price began.

I interrupted his spiel asking nonchalantly what was wrong with this automobile and why he was willing to part with it for such a low asking price. It was an intelligent question…but not one which usually gets a straight answer from someone selling a used car.

According to Randy, all that was needed was a contraption called an electronic control module. Pretending to understand what that was I muttered, “I see”.

Actually, I hardly know “jack” about car engines, but I saw no benefit in alerting him to that fact. Randy anticipated my next question and quickly explained he simply didn’t have time or money to spend on it and had another one at home. For some reason, I was slightly skeptical. Randy clarified the situation explaining the particular part was not easily located…not easy, but one could be found.

Thus, after a respectable amount of haggling and negotiating I became the proud new owner. He towed the Thunderbird to my yard and put it back on blocks until as such time I could find the elusive part. It remained there for three months.

“Not easily located.” was an understatement, to say the least. None of the local auto part stores had one or able to order it from their suppliers. Days were spent online searching for one. Finally one salvage dealer claimed to have one of the “critters”. I ordered it. It arrived three days later. It took another three days to find out where to install it.

At long last the moment of truth had arrived. Would it start? I turned the key and it miraculously fired up. Jubilantly I jumped for joy! And for two glorious days I “profiled” about town in my pride and joy before it sputtered and died. So, back to the internet I went. This time I was able to locate a reputable appearing company which specialized in remanufacturing electronic computer modules. At least their website looked professional.

The part arrived a week later and I immediately installed it. I turned the key…nothing! I took the part back out and examined it and immediately discovered it was not the correct part number I had ordered. I repackaged the module and returned it along with a letter describing in no uncertain details why I was dissatisfied with my order. I also phoned the company which agreed to send the correct part.

A week and a half went by and no part came. I called again and was assured it had been sent and would arrive by the next day. A package did arrive by UPS as promised…and after opening it saw it was definitely not what I had ordered. They had inadvertently switched the shipping labels and I was in possession of a diesel truck module supposed to have been shipped to a repair shop in Tacoma. The truck repair shop had in turn been sent mine. Back to the phone I went.

My company faxed me a shipping label to forward the diesel part to Tacoma. It so happens, I lived in Tacoma once and knew this particular repair shop. They also sent one to Tacoma for them to forward mine to me.

I shipped my package to Tacoma the next morning. I waited a week and no part came so I phoned my company AGAIN! My patience was beginning to wear thin. It seems the Tacoma people had been holding my part hostage since the diesel module they received quit functioning after two days. This story was beginning to sound a bit familiar. My part was promptlyy shipped by overnight express to avoid another unpleasant phone confrontation. And once again…they sent the wrong part.

However during the long waiting periods, I had a friend check the engine and part with diagnostic instruments. His findings determined the electronic control module had never been the problem. It was the fuel pump. So, I replaced the control module with the first one I had bought from a salvage dealer and demanded a refund on the other one.

Since my funds were dwindling at this point I bought a less expensive fuel pump. It worked…for two days. I exchanged it and it lasted only an hour. Twice more I exchanged it…same story. Exasperated, I asked my mechanic friend what he thought was wrong. He asked where I had bought the pump. When he discovered where I had purchased it he just shook his head. “NO, no, no!” he chastised. “I should’ve warned you in advance not to buy anything there. Nothing I’ve bought from them has ever worked!” He recommended a reputable name brand which I purchased. The problem was solved… at least that problem.

It seems the Thunderbird wasn’t finished with me quite yet. Summer had arrived and the air conditioner needed recharging. No big deal, I bought a few cans of refrigerant, sealer and lubricant. The usual stuff needed for this minor job. During the recharging process the high end pressure line burst and spewed all my newly bought contents out.

So, back to the auto parts store I went and ordered a new part. By now, you should know what happened…they sent the wrong one!

I’m now awaiting the arrival of a new part. I should have the Thunderbird back on the road in no time! And If you believe that, I have some beach front property in Arizona you might be interested in.

My Arizona Beach Property


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      It might be more useful as one. I hear they hold quite a lot of manure and fertilizer. LOL

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      OMG! You should swap stories with my husband! He's restoring an old Triumph. (I'm thinking we should turn it into a flowerpot!)

    • profile image

      usedmotor 7 years ago

      Hi i see your hub this is nice.If you want a best