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Thread: Mustang adventures from 2008: the father of the Mustangs

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Newmarket
    Posts
    759

    Mustang adventures from 2008: the father of the Mustangs

    I originally wrote this in 2008, long before this club became a reality. I am taking the liberty to post it again because it is (in my humble opinion) a good read and I enjoyed reliving it when I stumbled across the story in the depths of my computer hard drive. All this happened in 2007/05. All the Mustangs, except the 89 Coupe, are long gone.
    At the time, we had an 04 Cobra, a 1999 35th anniversary GT vert(black), a 1991 black Fox vert, a 1989 coupe, and a 1989 hatch.

    if you don't enjoy reading, well, tough on you.
    n I’m either one of the world’s luckiest dads because I have FIVE Mustangs to play with, or I’m the biggest touch for giving good car stuff to his kids.
    It started off when I leased a Honda Civic for my oldest son while he went to University.
    It continued when I got my first Mustang in 1999, leaving me with a 92 Dodge Spirit worth nothing on the trade.(did you know that 92 Dodge Spirits had 4 wheel disc brakes and anti lock?) Feeling guilty that the oldest one had wheels, I gave the Spirit to my middle son who was then just reaching the tender age of 17. It had been modified with aftermarket alloy wheels, HD shocks all around, a custom exhaust and Pirelli Z rated tires. Thus, son # 2 was indoctrinated early into the world of mods!

    4 years ago, I completed the triumvirate by buying a 1989 4 cylinder Mustang notch for my youngest son, Noah.
    . It was a 1 owner car with 90,000 km on it. It was a 4 cylinder, with an automatic.
    Then #1 son convinced me to get rid if the 2002 Honda we'd gotten him for his graduation, while his grandparents lent him the bucks to buy a 1991 Mustang GT Vert, black on white!
    After a nasty accident totaling the Spirit, and two miserable years in a 92 Dodge Avenger, #2 son wound up in a 1989 Mustang LX hatch 5 litre, which we purchased for $1100, and then spent $200 to get it safetied and on the road. (The previous owner thought the motor was blown, but it turned out to be a bad spark plug. It also needed one fender, which we got for 50 bucks. Fortuitously, it was black, so it didn't even need to be repainted.

    Last year, the little 4 banger, which was actually surprisingly fun to drive (I own an 04 Terminator, suitable modded to 500+ horsepower so I feel I know something about driving fun) needed a paint job, so I volunteered to help out. I took it to a brand new custom shop out of the city that low balled me with a ridiculously low price for the work, and then managed to double it, although I honestly think they had just made a mistake in their estimate and didn’t do it purposely. The car turned out to need floor pans, a fender, and there was more rust elsewhere than I thought, but it came out looking great. Unfortunately, said customizing shop is no longer in business.

    This summer, # 2 son took the hatch in for some work to our local Mustang guru, Rick Booth, where it was determined that the shocks weren’t shocking and the ball joints were unjointed, along with bushings that weren’t....well, bushing. As well, the headlights were practically opaque, typical for an older Fox body.
    #2 has repeatedly mentioned feeling left out because the other 2 boys work in my business, while he works as an electronics techie for a large communications company. So, feeling befittingly guilty, I offered to pay for the shocks and ball joints. Being a gadget head myself, I also volunteered to obtain a set of just out one piece projector style headlights for him.

    When it turned out that the ball joints by themselves were going to cost over $200, we decided to look at new lower control arms as well, and then, since we had a perfectly good set of 17" wheels and tires from my wife’s 99 35th Anniversary GT convertible literally just laying around, well, what the heck, a 5 lug conversion began to sound pretty good.
    Since our mechanical magician was going to have to disassemble a lot of the suspension anyway, it began to make some sort of demented sense that while the car was being massaged, we might as well do springs, brakes, and brake lines as well. However, this was going to cost, big time.
    Taking a lesson from the afformentioned Mr. Booth, I began looking for bargains. Having never done that before (If I need something, I’ll just go into my local vendor of choice and buy fresh parts), I was new to this. However, once you start looking, the bargains are there.

    Item 1] The 5-lug conversion. 50 Resto has it on sale for $399.00 Someone in our club posted a used set (it was only on the car for a week, and judging by the condition, they drove it 6 inches). I got it complete with a jar of brake lube for $200( note: 16 years later that jar is still on my shelf!)
    Unfortunately, other than the axles, subsequent decisions have rendered most of this stuff unnecessary.

    Item 2] Ball Joints. Ford Motorsport front lower control arms seem to be back in production. They are all over Ebay for around $350 US “buy it now”. They come complete with ball joints, which were going to cost $350 anyway. Then #1 son found them at our local Ford dealer for $400 CDN, which was cheaper than Ebay after counting in shipping. So we ordered a set. Of course they were on indefinite backorder, but the parts manager said “any day, any day”
    Then we went to Woodward, and while there we dropped in at MRT, where we have had a past business relationship. Their friendly parts guy, Dan Garn, was showing us around their new shop when we just happened upon a pile of brand new 99-04 Cobra Lower Control Arms, which he said would fit the car, although the track would be bigger. AND they were only $200 for the pair, including ball joints!
    He also said that we MIGHT need a set of camber caster plates, but that they weren’t absolutely necessary. Oh, well, in for a penny, in for a pound. Another $160.00 (also still on my shelf)

    Item 3 Spindles. For these lower control arms, we’d need SN-95 front spindles. I managed to score a pair for $100 from the buy sell forum of our club! Unfortunately I didn’t need them in the end, but since they’re as rare as hen’s teeth, I’ll keep ‘em

    Item 4 Springs. Here we go, again. MRT got a set of H&R springs for around $250. Ahhhhh. Good thing I have credit cards

    Item 5 Front brakes. It seems that the 5 lug conversion brakes I got at a bargain won’t fit the SN-95 spindle/hub, and the brand new lower control arms won’t fit in a fox . Not to mention hubs and bearings which I didn’t have. What to do? SSBC lists a brand new set of 99-04 front brakes and calipers for something like $1100, more if you want polished calipers. Hubs not included.
    Brainstorm!! I called Mustang Specialteaz, where the proprietor Jeff just happened to get in a wrecked 1995 GT that day. $350CDN, for a complete set of front brakes, hubs, calipers, lines, struts, nuts, bolts and whatever. It seems that the owner of this forlorn car smacked it up only a few days after installing brand new rotors and pads. Score another one for the Steinberg low budget team. Jeff also gave me the SN95 master cylinder, vacumn assist, and brake proportioning valve. While on his premisis, I also scored for another few dollars the rear discs, hubs and axles, so we were all set to do a complete 4 wheel disc system. Problem is, now I had a perfectly good 5-lug conversion kit which I didn’t need at all.

    Item 7 Stainless braided brake lines Sounds sexy, eh? Apparently it will firm up the pedal, and if there’s one thing I really hate it’s a squishy brake pedal.$120

    Item 8 Rear lower control arms In for a penny....since we’re getting new shocks
    anyway, might as well go all the way. $200

    Item 9 KYB shocks. These were part of the original plan: just shocks and ball joints.
    Another $200
    Last edited by Quicksilver; 12-07-2020 at 09:43 AM.
    2016 Jaguar F-Type "S" vert
    '89 Coupe, ,'19 Fusion hybrid,
    '18 Ecosport, 2018 F-550 Dump
    '19 F250 Crewcab;
    '17 F-250 work/plow truck

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Newmarket
    Posts
    759
    And we continue.
    Item 10 Wheels and tires We already had a perfectly good set of 245/45/17 Goodyears, at least 80% tread, mounted on pristine 35th Anniversary GT rims, so that’s why we needed a 5 lug conversion, which led to the brakes, struts, shocks, and everything else. No cost as we already had them. Turns out the tires weren’t so good in rain. So, some months later, on went a new set of Yokohama “S-Drivers”. That cured the problem.

    Item 11 Headlights Just because I promised. Besides, they’ll look good. Another $299 U.S. Since they’ve been on the car, we’ve had mixed reviews. Some people think they look very “ricy” and others really like them. For ease of installation I’ll take them over stockers any time.

    Item 12 Hood While we were at MRT, #2 son fell in love with a twin scoop Saleen style fibreglass hood. He bought and paid for it, and drove it across the border in full view under his hatch, but I suppose I’ll have to spring for installation. Only $300. Unfortunately, the Redline hood shocks won’t fit.

    Last but not least. I won’t number this one because, well, it’s an unlucky number. However, #1 son just happens to have a Maximum Motorsports strut tower brace left over from the previously mentioned past business experience. It won’t fit his car because of the aftermarket BBK intake manifold, so it will migrate over to #2's hatch. Free. (Well, actually #1 owes me big time, so this is might be called an interest payment!)
    My newfound trading abilities suggest that I can recover at least some of this money. I can sell the 5-lug rotors and pads, the old hood, that sort of thing.

    Some few weeks later, Uncle Rick took the black hatch under his wing (and into his garage), where he and his helper began dis-assembling the underside of the car. The first thing these temerarious adventurers noticed was that the underside of this 18 year old, $1100 special was in absolutely unsullied (albeit dirty), rustfree, condition. The strut towers were suitably strutting, the floorboards were properly flooring, and the brake and fuel lines were braking and flowing. So we immediately felt better about spending the money we were about to foolishly spend.

    Naturally, no battle plan survives the first skirmish. Lots of problems reared their ugly heads. The problem with problems is that each one of them takes time and effort, which coincidentally raise the dollar cost of the project.
    Turns out that the free SN95 vaccumn booster was broken, although the SN95 master cylinder was fine. The rear rotors were too rusty to ressurect, so we needed new ones. Ah well, Rick just happened to have a perfectly good set of slotted/coated rear rotors, so, what the hey. But of course, they wouldn’t match the fronts, so out comes the credit card to obtain a set of front slotted/coated rotors.
    Although the car was in really excellent condition, the brake lines for about 3 feet in every direction had to be fabricated, so a few more bucks.
    Then it turned out that the late model front lower control arms would only fit if we had front fenders with huge flairs, so the original LCA’s stayed on. The spindles, hubs, calipers and all snugged in like they were made for the car, but the camber caster plates were missing a couple of parts, which MRT will air fr eight up when I get around to it. As a consequence the struts went on without the tower brace, and the alignment was set by eye( the car tracks straight and true, so somebody has a real good eye).
    The master cylinder works just fine with the original vacuum booster, although it seems that for many Foxes this combo doesn’t work. As it stands, the car stops exponentially better than before, and the brake pedal is nice and stiff. Those who install an extra 2oo or so horsepower into a Fox, without doing something with the brakes, well, they may need to re-explore their priorities.
    The new headlights took some doing. The worst part was removing the old ones. This is a sorry task, and should be considered one small degree below torture. It is almost (not quite, and that’s where the torture comes in) impossible to work your hands in behind, let alone get a socket or wrench on those tiny little bolts. The bolts holding the lamp housing on are the same as the ones holding the housing itself together, as well as what appear to be random nuts that seem to do nothing. There are at least 7 nuts per side to come off, with no room to get a male hand in, and naturally, on a car that has any miles on it, there is a lot of crud, grease, dirt, grime and just plain guck back there, so skinned knuckles and a lot of cleanup are the order of the day.
    Then I had to cut out a section of the support panel so the new 1 piece light would fit, and naturally my Dremel cutter had disappeared, so I had to drill giant holes and use a file.
    Once I got clearance, it took 10 minutes to mount and aim the lights!


    Finally, we applied a bunch of good old fashioned elbow grease to the body, using a very light paste polishing compound and then a good polish with Turtle Wax “Ice” synthetic polish. Although Identifiably not new, the car now looks far better than it did. The stance is perfect, the tailpipes nice and shiny, the body pretty good (except for small dings and scratches one might expect after 18 years on the road), the red interior suitably bouduoir-ish and the paint fetchingly agleam. It’s exhaust sounds like a proper Mustang, with a low menacing rumble, the engine runs better than ever, the car handles like it is on the proverbial rails, and stops on the also legendary dime.

    So, from originally needing some shocks and ball joints, this little project has morphed into a mechanical version of an Extreme Makeover!
    Next summer, it will receive a new interior and a fresh paint job.


    During all this high adventure, I came across (and bought) an 88 LX hatch 5 litre in running condition. For $900, we acquired a complete, running car. Our Mustang guy Rick, is going to swap the complete driveline out to # 3 son’s notch, replacing the 4-banger, slushbox and rear axle, thus converting it from an anemic pretender to something with actual measurable horsepower. But now, IT’s going to need brakes, and tires, and 5 lugs, and G-d knows what else. This really puts me into a quandary. The 88 looks in pretty fair condition. It just seems a shame to break up a perfectly good car and part it out. Maybe I should get rid of the Notch and fix up the hatch. But the notch has a new paint and body job, Pony wheels and tires, racing seats, a nice stereo. Oh, well, just like organ donors, the '88's heart will live on! (unfortunately, a few months after I wrote this, the engine blew up, and we wound up buying Mint2000' old Fox engine, which we still have in the car.

    Let’s see, now. In April, my wife suggested I buy a Whipple for my Cobra(450 rear wheel horsepower is just not enough), but I thought $3800 (2004 prices) was way too much to spend on toys for my car. Instead I will have actually spent more than that by the time I’m done! And not on me!

    Maybe I shouldn’t have had kids.
    2016 Jaguar F-Type "S" vert
    '89 Coupe, ,'19 Fusion hybrid,
    '18 Ecosport, 2018 F-550 Dump
    '19 F250 Crewcab;
    '17 F-250 work/plow truck

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    USA, New York, New York
    Posts
    5
    This is a really very cool car and I wanted to buy one to make it my garage project, but I found an offer to sell such a Mustang abroad and looked at the approximate cost of car transportation, I realized that this is an unrealistic dream so far. I really would love to modify this car. I often look on the Internet for photo reports about how cool the 2008 Mustang was restored.
    Last edited by Oppy; 12-08-2020 at 02:34 PM.

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