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Jul 28, 2019
1988 Corvette
Yep, it's a Ford post on a Corvette board. But I don't have much else better to do right now so I'd thought I'd throw it up for those that aren't slaves to "brand loyalty" and maybe someone will find it a nice read on a rainy day while under "lock down".


It's a 1983 Ford Mustang. I'm also the original owner. Well, the guy who bought it before me had it a month and returned it, so technically I'm the second owner.

It was originally bought for my (then) on again/off again girlfriend, who would eventually become my practice wife. She drove it back and forth to high school. She got the Mustang because I had my 78 TBird (should have never sold it) that I had dropped a C6 trans and 460 into. It wasn't super fast in the 1/4, but it would roast off a set of tires in one sitting if you wanted to. It would literally smoke 'em until you let off the throttle or popped the tires and I'm not talking about a brake stand start. Big block hanging over the nose and little/no weight in the arse will do that for you. Luckily, in high school, no one wanted to race it because they knew I had a 460 big block in it. If they had, they would have found out pretty quick that it had a bigger bark than bite. But I still loved that car.....it started my life long obsession with TBirds.


The 83 was pretty base. Hatchback, GL, 3.8, c5 auto (IE: basically a c4 auto with a lock up converter) and that's about it. Only option it had was a sunroof. It didn't even have a center console between the base bucket seats, just a carpeted tunnel and a tiny auto shifter handle.

She used it like that for many years, both of us going back and forth to university in it, when the weather wouldn't let me use my motorcycles. A 30 minute one-way drive every day in the 460 TBird was not an option. 8-9 MPG gets really expensive, really fast.

Eventually, I joined the military and we were posted to CFB Moosejaw. Drove the Mustang across country to get there. One of the first things I did when we were settled is find a Fox chassis at an SGI yard that had cruise control. My right leg was puffed up nearly twice it's size after the marathon run across the continent from holding my leg/foot in one position so long fighting the throttle spring pressure. Took a couple days for it to fully calm down after that. Cruise control was going to be a necessity in the Prairies....

The Mustang was getting long in tooth at that point and I bought the missus a 92 Mustang and I took the 83 for my driver. The mileage was up around 250,000 kms at that time and the body was showing it. I stripped it down, did rust repair and sent it to a local shop to spray it. Drove it like that for another couple years and then we were posted back to NS. Drove the 83 back across the continent.

At this time, the 83 was pushing 350,000 kms and I pretty much "retired" it. Had my daughter and a Dodge Intrepid took over daily duties. Somewhere after that, practice wife became ex-wife and we transferred the title on the 83 to just my name.

Wife #2 and I bought a house just outside the base and the 83 slipped into the back garage next to my 62 TBird project:


Wife #2 made no bones about not wanting to ride in the 83 (doesn't like fox mustangs, ex-wife factor, etc), so the TBird became the project and the 83 sat.

Then, we were posted to BC. We kept the house in Annapolis valley, intending to return to it one day as we wanted it to be the retirement home. The TBird and Mustang stayed in the back garage as we couldn't afford to ship them. We were eventually posted out, but went to NL instead of NS. At this point, we came to the decision that we didn't want to float two mortgages any longer. It was just too hard to manage. So we sold the house and the two cars in the garage were moved to my neighbors back field area. There they sat for another two years.

Well, we were posted again, but back to NS this time. The TBird was sold off (too much work to finish it at that point) and the Mustang was pulled out and moved to the new house:


I had to have it "roll backed" to the house. I drove it to the place we kept it, but NS winters were harsh on it. Still, I thought at least getting it running wouldn't be that big a deal.

Oh how wrong I was......

Checking things out revealed why it wouldn't start. Fuel pump diaphragm was gone to powder and the fuel lines had rusted literally in half. Dumped some fuel inthe carb and that 350,000 km+ 3.8 fired right up. Not even a hint of smoke. Tough little engine, even if it didn't have enough power to pull the skin off day old pudding.....

Car was solid when I parked it, but now the drivers floor felt funny under the carpet. Pulled the carpet back and:


What the hell? it was clean, painted metal when I parked it and this rusted from the inside out?!? I start checking things out and:


Ah crap! There's a hole in the air horn down in the cowl plenum! Problem found! I figure rain backsed up in the plenum, got in through the hole in the air horn, soaked the carpet and then.....well, then nature took it's course. So I needed to cut the plenum off and start some rust repair:


about 800 spot welds to cut out and then, underneath the upper cowl panel I found this:


Now the rust made sense. A damned mouse had made his home on the support for the wiper pivot inside the plenum. Ford had a drain hl ein it so rust doesn't eat it apart, but all it did was direct the little sob's urine right onto the plenum floor. Damned mice...

Further investigation revealed the damage was much worse than I originally thought:


Yeah, your eyes are not lying to you, you're looking right into the interior.Well, nothing to do but fix it, so:



well, with the airhorn rebuilt and the plenum floor repaired, on to the drivers floor:



With that done, I moved to making full length subframe connectors:



I incorporated the seat support because Foxes are infamous for breaking the seat mounts free from the floor. The floor flexes and cracks, which can let the seat rip free in an accident or on hard acceleration. I also wanted to stiffen up the chassis for the plans I had for the car.

With that handled, I decided I wanted to do something with the body that was not quite mainstream:



I wanted to keep the "four eyes", but wanted a lower body kit. I ran across the body pieces for an 87+ Mustang GT and picked it up cheap. I split the fascia of the 83 and the GT and then bonded them together. They're urethane, so I needed to use a special urethane adhesive. The side pieces just bolted on:


But I really don't like the big balloon/sail thing the Mustang GT's used for their rear fascia. I looked at buying a fox cobra rear bumper, but it was either stupid expense to order or it couldn't be shipped to my location. So I took the GT bumper and cut it up to the shape I wanted:


Basically, I essentially replicated the Mustang Fox Cobra rear bumper fascia.

The old 3.8 was pretty tired now, but still a trooper. I'm sure it would have given us another 100-200,000 kms, but 90-ish hp wasn't going to fit with the plans I had for the car. So:


I picked up an 89 HO engine:


And a 5 speed:


then started working on the engine:






It was a combination of parts pulled out of my personal stash and some used buys. The air cleaner didn't clear the hood, so rather than go to a torque strangling drop air cleaner:


Need a scoop now. I wanted the OEM "power blister" that 83/84 used on the 83-84 GT's, but those aren't exactly easy to come by. So I pulled a mold off a 79 hood scoop:

Well, at least it covered the hole, but it didn't follow the hood contours worth a damn, so:


Split it and fiberglassed it back together. Right about the time I thought it was going to look pretty good, I ran across:


Done. The fiberglass scoop eventually ended up being the hood for my 8x8 Argo, so it wasn't a total waste.
Next, the 7.5 rear axle had to go. I grabbed an 8.8 and kitted it out:


Fox chassis 8.8 housing, Ford explorer center section (trac lock and 31 spline carrier), dropped in a set of 3.73, Yukon 31 spline 5 lug axles, SN95 rear disc brakes. Topped it off with a Crown Vic aluminum cover, mostly because I already had it lying around.

The 3.8/C5 driveshaft didn't fit, so a Fox V8 shaft was slipped in:


Now, time for suspension. The fox chassis rear suspension is often called "quadra-bind" because of the way it is designed. Basically, the rear axle is held in place by four arms. Two lowers and two uppers. Uppers are shorter than the lowers and scribe a differnt arc as well. The angles they form as they cycle forces them into a bind condition. It's fine for a grocery getter, but push it hard and you get into a condition known as "snap oversteer". What happens is the upper arms bind and rely on big rubber bushings to keep them moving. But this builds up tension, like a spring. Keep cornering hard and you will eventually get it to release (bump, movement, etc) and when it lets go the rear end just goes nuts. then, befor you know it, the thing is throwing you sideways off the road. You fix that by, well, ripping it off and throwing it all out.

So Maximum Motorsports supplied the torque arm, panhard bar and rear lower control arms:




With a torque arm suspension, you need to change spring rates or it will bottom out easily. Luckily, the SN95 Mach 1 mustang had the right rates and even lower the car 3/4":


I ran across a set of "new takeouts" and got them cheap.

With the rear sorted, time for the front. I thought about a tubular K frame, but decided against it. The weight saving would have been nice, but anything besides the MM k member is mainly meant for drag racing, not great in road racing/autocross and the MM one was too much for my budget. So I pulled the OEM K-member out, modified the A arm mount points, slide the k-member forward about 3/4" and the engine back about 1.5".that doesn't sound like much, but even a small change here makes a huge difference in handling.
In went some bilsteins (front an rear) from the same Mach 1:


I was going to go with those adjustable KYB's, but the Bilsteins are a much better performing units. One look at the difference in the diameter of the piston shaft tells you everything you need to know about which is "better".

Geometry is a little whack on the Fox chassis and it could benefit from longer lower arms up front. It makes for better geometry as it cycles through it's arc. A set of SN95 MACH 1 arms fix us right up:

Besides better geometry, they come with ultra low friction ball joints for better suspension action.

A set of 1995 SN95 steering knuckles:


fit the cobra ball joints, maintain steering geometry (IE: no bump steer), let me swap to 5 lug rims (to match the rear) and allow me to slip on the much larger SN95 Cobra PBR brakes. With the bigger brakes up front and discs in the rear, I needed a different ratio for the master. Luckily, a 1998 Cobra supplied the booster and master in just the right ratio and evn has the proper prop valve bias for rear discs:


That was actually a major PITA to get in the fox engine bay. I ended up having to "dimple" the strut tower and redrill all but one of the mounting holes. While I was under the dash, I hung the quadrant for the 5 speed (ie: third pedal)

An SN95 steering rack goes in and I install it with some aluminum bushings I spun out on the lathe:


the SN95 rack has a faster ratio than the Fox rack. I did have to make up some special tie rods in order to fit it in the fox. I also had to make a customized steering linkage to go from the fox column to the SN95 rack.

With all these changes, I needed to be able to adjust caster and camber. So a set of adjustable camber plates went in:


Exhaust was a simple fix:


Stainless cat back. Matches up to the offroad H pipe the car already has installed.

About that time, I ran across an 83 GT in the scrap yard:

Not much left there, except for:


for 200 bucks I couldn't pass up the epitome of 80's cool! Well, the roof was also rotted out around the sunroof on my car (common problem) so I had to do something about it one way or the other.

this was a religious moment:


But then:


Mr Pool approves!

Con't in next post (hit the attachments limit)
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About that time, a set of Mustang Bullit rims showed up so off came the 15" SN95 rims:


Guy I got them from had them on a Ranger, so the pony centers were long gone. Ebay fixes that up pretty quickly:

The Sn95 5 speed is actually out of a V6, not a V8. The Sn95 V6 standard is actually the Fox 5 speed that came in the GT's, at least in torque ratings. The bell housing bolts right up to the 302, but there are a few significant changes from teh fox era. the Sn95 trans is about 5/8" longer and it's because the input shaft is longer. this is enough to mess things up royally. the 5/8 is the better fit it in the SN95 chassis. The sifter ends up in the Fox opening, but everything inside the bell housing is messed up. After some digging, I discover that the flwheel and clutch from an 80's F150 will mate up to the 302 and also the SN96 input shaft. the flywheel and ring gear are bigger than the V8 Fox, so that also meant a new starter. The same f150 starer fits just right. The flywheel will be a little slower reving, but it also is 1.2" larger than the fox piece so it has more holding power. this is a street car, so more inertia in the flywheel isn't exactly a bad thing. I finish it off with a Hurst gold short throw shifter and ball:


My dash was hacked up in teh radio area (they all are), but more importantly the sun had cracked the dash plastic right down the middle. The wrecked Gt that supplied the t roof offered up it's dash and console:


The GT was an orginal V8 5 speed car, so the dash had all the V8 5 Speed wiring, components and the interface to run the DIC in the center console. Nice thing is that becuase of the way they built these cars (ie: modular)all I had to do was pull out the V6/auto dash and bolt in the V8/standard dash. All the electicals just plugged into the car like it was meant to be there. While I was at it, I knew I didn't want "GT" or "cobra" or anything else on the car. I'm not into "clones" or copies or tribute cars. I just want my cars to be nice, cohesive and clean so they can stand on their own merits. So a tri-pony emblem from an 86-92 fox was installed in place of the :"GT' dash badge:

I really like the SVO Mustang steering wheels, but they're harder to come by than a wining lottery ticket. But, Mercury also put them in the Fox Capri's:


The only real differences between teh capri wheel and the SVO wheel is the Capri one is just hard plastic and it's got a cougar emblem instead of a Ford one. I plan to leather wrap the wheel and I've got a couple Ford wheel centers so that;s an easy fix.



Are from a 1980's Turbo T-Bird. they are the multi-adjustable sport seats. High end pieces I swapped in a loooong time ago. A leather re-upholstry job and they will be perfect. They're super comfy and hold you dead nuts in place when cornering. With the new suspension and plans to autocross/rally the car, they'll be needed.

In it all goes:


Here's a quick photchop of how I think it will be finished out inside:


It will all be red and black leather, of course. I'm just biding my time to find the leather on sale (I usually buy from Tandy leather shop) and a good walking foot sewing machine to show up used. I've got abunch of older sewing machines that CAN handle thick leather, but you really need a walking foot machine to do the just right on car upholstery. I also want a bigger stitch lenght, which most retail machines (even the older ones) can't do. genereally, you want about an 8-10 mm stitch lenght in uphostry leather and retail/seamstress ones typically max out around 4-5mm. A longer stitch length is stronger in leather and it looks better in an interior. It's what you see in OEm leather where they have super nice french seams on every joint.

And since the wheel centers and dash now wear the Tri-pony, lets do the fenders as well. Off comes the Fox Cobra emblems (left overs from a younger age):


and on goes the Tri-pony emblems:


You can see that the lower still say "Mustang GT". I'm still trying to decide what to do about that. I can fill the "GT", but that means the "Mustang" on the passenger side is not going to be int he same position as the driver side. I could fill the whole thing, which would look OK, but it would be rather plain looking.

Lately, since there's lots of SN95 MACH 1 parts on it, I've been toying with changing the "MUSTANG GT" to "MACH 1". They never made a Fox (79-92) MACH 1, so I wouldn't be cloning or copying anything. I guess you might be able to call it a "what if" tribute if I want with MACH 1. But I've also been toying with making it say "MOCK 1", just to be a little cheeky about it.
That's pretty much as it sits today:


It runs, although not long. The fuel system isn't installed or plumbed and the brakes aren't plumbed either. it's a long term project, but it's moving along. I'll get to drive/race it one day.....just not today!

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I love the F Body Mustangs and the Capri 5.0L.

I have a friend that has a 91 GT and I've been hounding him to sell me his car.

I've been hounding for almost ten years now and the answer is still no.
Holy cow..... that's a labor of love, hate, patience, frustration, skill, stubbornest, coolness, endurance, daring and I'm sure there must have been some torture and agony along the way! Thanks for sharing and good for you!!! 👍
Great project. I also had a 78 Thunderbird, my first car. I bought a brand new 89 GT Mustang several years later. Wish I still had both of them. Good luck.
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