I am the second owner of a 47K mile 1985 5.0 LX vert. I love this car, i have a chevy Volt i drive daily and have this as a weekend nice weather cruiser. The car has a bunch of upgrades and a few things removed, because at this point it is a classic and will never have to be smogged again. The car by today's standards is horribly inefficient, extremely unsafe, and the fit and finish from day one was terrible. They rusted the day you left the lot, and there are not many left that are either original cars, or were looked after there entire life. The convertibles suffer from chassis twist due to torque, and there are quite a bunch of them out there that are permanently bent. What makes these cars great is the simplicity, anyone can pick up a cheap set of tools and wrench on these cars, the parts are cheap, and with less than 1000.00 you can put together a junk yard 500+HP build. Mechanically they are pretty well bulletproof, and are very simple to fix when they break. These however are not cars you buy to daily drive any longer, unless you are a kid, who has the time to work on them weekly to fix things, and does not care about safety or fuel costs. All this being said, the sound of the old small block 5.0 is intoxicating, the grunt when you lift off the clutch and the gear engages, and the RPM's rise is what draws the motor heads to these cars, and the reason mine will be mine until i die.
Here is a brief list for anyone checking reviews for a Fox body mustang they want to buy..
1. They rust, but the worst places are generally at the lower portions of the strut towers where the weld is to the frame rails in the engine bay. If they are rusted, unless this is a low number car like an original Saleen, i would just walk away.
2. The Rear main seals are notorious to leak, this is a cheap part, but you have to take the tranny off to get it out, so be prepared for a new clutch, and all the additional parts that will likely need to be replaced..
3. Valve cover gaskets were cork, they are probably shot too..
4. Intake manifold gaskets leak out of the rear, generally leak down the rear of the engine and look like a rear main seal, when they probably aren't they are cheap and easy to fix for even a novice.
5. Oil pan gaskets leak, these are not fun to change.. Generally have to lift the engine about 3in to clear the cross member, and you don't want it to continue to leak, it will burn off the collectors off the exhaust..
6. Every vacuum line under the hood is likely dry rotted by now, you will likely have to re-plumb every line, or make the choice to go carb and get rid of all the clutter of lines.
7. Body rust, if it is a vert, keep in mind that doors are nearly impossible to find, so if there is rust in the doors, i would just walk away.
8. electrical.. Most of these cars if they are stock have a solid electrical system.
9. exhausts, although they were stainless, they are likely also shot by now, i needed to replace mine, and it ran me about 1100.00 to do it the right way.
10. Convertible tops are 1200.00
11. Convertibles should have frame connectors installed, this will stop the flex, and the rattling.. It's worth doing.
12. suspension, most of the parts for the suspension are cheap, easy to find, and easy to replace.
Aside from the listed items above, anyone looking to buy one of these should check the forums first as they generally have classifieds of these for sale, and most of them listed on those sites have been well taken care of.
We've owned this car for over 15 years and despite the great expense and poor performance, my husband wouldn't get rid of it until a truck totaled it while parked (thank you truck driver). Very loud car. Due to the convertible pillars, vision was lousy. The car could not drive in any little bit of snow, and was even pretty unsafe in the rain. We experienced the overall quality of early 1990's Ford cars, which is to say expensive to maintain with many quality control issues.
This is a great car to drive short
distances, but the poor suspension and
lack of good seats make long drives
difficult. The sound system is good,
but you can't hear it without blasting
when you drive over 45 miles per hour
(and in this car, the fun begins much
faster than that!).
The speed and acceleration can't be
Improve steering and steering radius.
Add a cup holder!!!
Improve the front seats!