What’s the Difference … between an SC and a LX?

By Michael Albee

There are quite a few things that make the SC version of the Thunderbird different from the LX models, and until I sat down to write this, I didn’t realize that there were that many changes made.

Aside from the obvious addition of the supercharger under the hood, the SC was offered with a 5 speed transmission and not just an automatic. Also, the engine was redesigned internally to handle the additional power and stress of the supercharger.

The supercharged cars were also equipped with an intercooler to cool the supercharged air before it is ingested by the engine. This also added a lot of plumbing under the hood and made it more difficult to work on!

The next noticeable difference is the body cladding and a different interior package. Ground effects were added to the sides and an extended rear bumper with the trademark “Thunderbird SC” embossed in it. Also, special 16″ alloy wheels with Z rated tires were used in place of the 15″ steel and “Fan” style wheels. Lastly, the V6 or V8 bagging on the front fenders was removed.

On the inside, the center console was changed to adapt a hand brake. (The LX and V8 cars have a foot pedal parking brake). Another addition was a “Firm Ride” switch on the console next to the fog lamp switch.
The Dash is almost the same. The exceptions are: the “Volt” gauge was replaced with a “Boost” gauge and the “Firm” ride light is added under the tachometer. Also on the SC the speedometer goes to 140 on the 94-95.

The front seating in the SC is available with 6-way power on both sides with lumbar and bolster added to both. The stitching is different on the seats too. The last difference inside is the steering wheel. It is setup differently and has a “soft-grip” padding on it.

Under the car, the suspension and steering is also different. The SC has Automatic Ride Control (ARC). This effects the way the car handles during performance driving. It is run by a separate computer and the computer has sensors located on all four shocks, the throttle body and the steering gear. If the sensors pick up any quick change in acceleration, braking, body role or pitch, the system switches to the “Firm” mode which stiffens the suspension. The “Firm” setting can also be achieved by flipping the switch on the console.

As for the suspension, the shocks, springs and brakes are different. The shock are different to adapt the sensors. The springs are different to give a firmer ride and the brakes are larger to help the car stop better.

The last obvious difference is the overall performance of the SC’s. The LX versions have a top speed of around 105-110 mph while, the SC will top 140+.

That’s about it, except to mention the fact that for the 35th Anniversary, (1990), the Thunderbird SC also had an “Anniversary Package” that included a special two-tone paint scheme, color keyed wheels, special body striping and badges, a special edition interior and a collectors gift package and car cover.

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