Hagerty.com

Buying a Fox-body Ford Mustang? Here’s what you need to know.


#1

The Fox-body Ford Mustang is one of the most enduring muscle car icons. Maligned for its various faults as it is loved for its many strengths and its huge impact on the performance market, this imperfect creation was offered from the 1979 to 1993 model years, a testament to Ford’s willingness to squeeze every last drop of juice out of its platforms.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/11/27/fox-body-buyers-guide

#2

I got a 92 calyso green LX coupe with 220K ,And it was my first and only new car purchase. It’s been upgraded with c.a.i, strut brace, gload brace, SUB-FRAME connecters, BBK 1.5" Equal length headers ,throttle body ,custom exhaust and X-pipe,20" Chinese chome rims, B and M shifter ,But no internal engine work. Still runs like a scalded dog!! Oh yeah I also replaced belt fan with a electric one, I’m NEVER GOING TO SELL IT.


#3

My summer-driver is a 1979, base notchback with 5.0 and C4. Originally was a 2.3 four. Edelbrock carb and manifold. Pretty quick with a short rearend 60mph 3000rpm. Atlest to me this feels like a muscle car when you are used to never daily drivers. Reasonably prised and as the article states alot of aftemarket parts. 4-Eyed ones are also really quite sharp looking with the clean original lines.

Summer car since i live in Finland.


#4

I spent from 1983 thru 1998 in Performance Test Engineering at DPG, driving each and every prototype and new model during that time. I’ve owned a few Mustangs from the 1979 to 1990 years, and loved them all. I now own a 1983 GLX convertible (you blew it there, the GLX was produced for just 3 years, '82-'84) with a 5.0L and 4 speed trans (actually a 3 speed with OD), leather interior, crank windows, AC, PS/PB, factory stereo w/o Premium Sound, glass window with defroster, the TRS wheels (which I sold immediately, because the tires are so outrageously expensive). In 1990, Ford went to a roller cam motor for the 5.0L, made a HUGE difference in torque, let alone engine longevity and reliability (esp. if you drove it hard). My car came from southern Indiana, and is 100% RUST-FREE, and was not undercoated. It’s got 37,000 original miles on it, the original top…but I de-polluted the engine, adding an Edelbrock Performer manifold, a Holley 4 bbl carb (getting rid of the stock Holley, it never was a good carb), MSD ignition, shorty headers and Flowmasters. Outstanding cruiser, sounds great, and I love driving it. (I own another Fox, an '86 Thunderbird Elan, with a 5.0L and AOD, it came from Virginia, has 67,000 miles and is also 100% rust-free. I put duals & glasspacks on it; I like it, the wife hates it, LOL. I drive both regularly, and they’re my “babies”. Since I was so deeply involved in Fox development, I have a real soft spot in my heart for these cars.) I would like to point out your claim on rarity of these 7-Up Mustangs; with 4700+ produced, they’re not really “rare”, there’s no premium on them, they’re not collector cars, and offer no advantage over other Mustangs due to performance upgrades or anything, with the exception of the manual transmission versions. They’re green, with white interiors, white tops, turbine wheels and dual exhausts. And that’s about it. 7Up decided that promotion just wasn’t worth going further with, and Ford was the one who decided to go ahead and promote these cars as something other than a regular Mustang convertible GT.


#5

Don’t overlook the Fox body Capri’s. They didn’t get the Saleen packages, but ascMcLaren did a great job converting the hardtops to 2 seat convertibles. I own a 1986 ragtop with 24,000 miles on it. Looks, drives and runs like brand new. I bought it at auction years ago and drive it once in a while in the fall, winter and spring. We live in Florida and it’s too hot in the summer. With the limited supply of Capri based convertibles, they are still a bargain. 5,0 and 5 speed auto. Red with tan leather interior and, of course, garaged and babied.


#6

Why did they forget the ASC McLarens. They can be a great value and people were paying twice the price originally and now some can be bargains. I found the only 89 in Paris blue and tan made. Many other rare ones come up. Also the article said the GT was on a two year break from 82-85, but they made many 83-84 GT’s. Also the TRX style wheels can be ordered in three sizes from LMR now as the original size fits only expensive Michelins and were usually scrapped.


#7

Lot of inaccuracies in this article about the Fox Body Mustangs.


#8

Another great Fox Body to remember are the 1991-92 SAAC Mk1’s that Ken Eber and Rick Kopec built to honor the ‘65 Shelby GT-350’s. I own prototype XX4 and also one of 13 convertibles built in 1992 that has 1600 miles. Only 65 cars were built total. They were debuted at the Shelby American Automobile Club, SAAC, national convention at the Charlotte Motor Sppedway when Shelby had gone to work for Lee Iacocca at Chrysler. The Chrysler attorneys made them take Shelby’s name off the cars but they are still registered in the Shelby registry. Those Fox Bodies help federalize a lot of the high performance parts that came on the ‘93 Cobra Mustangs. They are very rare primarily because not a lot of folks know of the stories. Great cars that haul ass!!!


#9

Agree there are some errors within. In 1983 I bought a 5.0 GLX notchback (waited for the new 5speed to become available) and my best buddy bought a GT, so there was no GT gap there. Also, fuel injection debuted in 1986, not 1987. My same buddy swapped his '83 for an '86 and it was definitely injected. I on the other hand swapped my '83 for an '85 GT convertible, which I still own today!
Awesome cars and always the best bang the buck could buy!


#10

Great article. Fuel injection came in on the 1986 model. I had one.


#11

I recall renting a 302 powered '89 mustang back in the day …VERY disappointing… Have to say one of the worst cars Ive ever driven…my daily transport at the time was an '85 Peugeot 2.5 litre turbo diesel… in comparison the Mustang had poor ride quality, not very good visibility from inside the car ( not helped by a very low seating position and uncomfortable seat) all controls seemed to be in the wrong place, dead feeing steering, choppy ride quality and power output was dangerous for the cars totally uninspiring and frankly beyond appalling handling capabilities…distinctly ‘vintage’ in few… by caparison,in spite of considerably less power output but good torque, I could cover any distance on winding roads far faster, in greater comfort.wth less effort, and far more fun in the almost invisible boxy french sedan… incedentally a car I kept for over 300k miles with nothing other than regular service items… and it was driven hard…still in excellent condition when I sold it on… conversely , I recall driving '66 Mustang at an earlier period and was quite impressed… seemed fast, capable and sufficiently agile for my tastes …the later model seemed to be regression…


#12

The hot tip on Fox body Mustangs is to buy an SVO that someone put away in the hopes that they would be collectible some day. There are also a few that were put away because their turbo engines had issues at low mileages and their owners couldn’t handle accepting the loss by dumping them for peanuts when they were only a few years old.

The day the SVO becomes collectible may never come, but you can help the process along by buying one of the best low mileage SVOs for a price that would get you a worn out GT and then swapping in the V8 it deserved all along. Everything else about an SVO was upgraded in the hopes of competing with BMWs and Supras. They have better seats, better upholstery, bigger brakes, stronger hubs, and better controlled suspensions. Sure, they look like SVOs instead of the GTs and LXs that were respected on the streets thirty years ago. Still, the potential is there to build the best performing Fox Mustang of all, and for a fraction of the price it would cost to restore the typical GT to the condition of a car that was stored as an ‘investment’ from new.


#13

Good article on a great car.

I have a 1984 GT convertible, so they definitely existed that year. Also, I thought that the 1986 had a 200hp fuel-injected 302 V8, not a carbed one.

Still a great bargain, IF you can find a good one out there!


#14

My wife had a Peugeot bicycle computer that was agonizingly slow to update, but lasted for many, many years. As for Peugeot cars, I bought a low-mile set of TRX tires, from a guy whose Peugeot’s diesel engine had given up the ghost.


#15

I am the proud owner of an 85 SVO and can’t imagine why anyone would want to swap out the original 2.3 for a 5 Liter. I have a header 3" down pipe and 2-1/2 duel exaust along with a boost controler and can keep up with any stock GT fox body car untitled the road gets windy then I can watch them fade away in my rear view mirror. All you will accomplish with the swap is a poor handling 5 litre mustang that will brake better than a stock one.


#16

Those metric size Michelen TRX tires (also optional on some Fords of same period I believe) never caught on and were expensive (without the normal Michelin longevity) a good number of the 80-86 Peugeots diesels had engine failures due to being worked upon by morons…(common problem with jaguars too) they were finely engineered cars and required trained intelligent people with sound understanding of engineering practices to work on them . there WAS weak spot in the the idler wheel for timing chain tensioner (long 3 row or ‘triplex’ chain) ,which was secured by a coarse thread grade12 x 8mm bolt…if not properly torqued it could snap off …with disastrous results… valve train crash… and off the the crusher as the cars had almost zero value in USA… ( i always replaced that skinny bolt with a 3/8 fine thread allen head and a dab of locktite … thereby eliminating a potential ‘issue’)


#17

Interesting insights - thanks.


#18

A few things to fix here.

  1. 85 auto cars came with the new CFI fuel injection, a 1 year thing. 86 5 speed cars had the carb still.

  2. The roller cam came to the 5.0 in 85

All models get fuel injection in 87 and go to mass air in 89 ( 88 for California cars)
1990 cars and beyond get a drivers side airbag and loose tilt wheel.


#19

I had a 79 Cobra 5.0L/4spd from new. Lot of fun, very reliable, and lasted a long time. Got good gas mileage on the highway (27 mpg US gallon). Beware of the early year turbos. They were terrible from new and didn’t get any better with age.


#20

I’m just about in the same boat as you, except my dad bought it new off the lot and it was my first car when I started driving 13 years ago. 92 calypso green lx hatch. will never get rid of it