Model: Dakota Summerton
At first glance, this '87 LX 5.0 looks clean, perhaps even oversimplified.
It's slathered in eye-catching yellow paint, rolls on chrome Saleen SC replicas, and has a mild engine combination. Overall, the coupe is quite simple, yet it caught our attention. Why? Because it's a real car, one that you could use every day on the street or track, without fear of overheating, blowing up, or the tires grinding themselves into the fenders, as is so often the case with a modified Fox-body.
While there is a place for wild 1,000hp Mustangs with sick graphics, Total Mustang Supply (TMS) of Coconut Creek, Florida, specializes in restifying (a combination of restoring and modifying) Fox Mustangs into realistic street machines. Fox Mustangs have been the staple of the MM&FF diet, and TMS has locked in on a niche that we feel is going to grow rapidly.
Ford's Fox design is straightforward, timeless, and the average person can turn wrenches on one. Both stock-replacement and aftermarket parts are affordable, and this allows anyone to own and modify a true American performance car. Over the years, Ford has slathered the Mustang with technology and great performance, but it's come at a price. New Mustangs are not affordable to most young people, but Fox Mustangs certainly are.
Tedd Siegel of TMS is well aware of this, and whether it's an original 5.0L GT or LX or four-cylinder conversion, he knows the potential of the Fox-body Mustang. But because these cars are so easy to work on, it's easy to go overboard. All too often, projects intended to be street driven get over-built, relegated to track-only duty, or just abandoned altogether.
"In the fall of 2009, we got a call from Jack Smith, a film producer who lives in the principality of Monaco. He owned an '87 LX coupe that was all original and parked at his U.S. residence in Maimi," said Tedd. "Mr. Smith was looking for a shop to overhaul and customize his ride. He is an '80s guy and kept his car because it reminded him of that era. We stripped it and sent it to Century Autobody in Deerfield Beach, Florida, and when it returned, we did a ground-up restoration/customization. The build took seven months."
Clearly, one of the hardest parts to get right is the underhood area. Year after year, Ford added more and more holes to the already Swiss-cheesed strut towers, making ugly even uglier. Century filled and smoothed the towers and inner fenders before spraying the panels in PPG yellow. This screaming yellow was also applied to the body, which was enhanced by a 2-inch cowlhood. The clean treatment carried throughout, with a basic yet hopped-up powerplant, drivetrain, suspension, and interior.
The 5.0L mill retains stock displacement, but was rebuilt with an FRPP oil pump and a slightly aggressive roller cam. The E7TE heads were cleaned up, and a GT-40 intake was installed to increase power and help Mr. Smith remember the '80s. Plus, it's a nice fit with the BBK shorty headers and Flowmaster mufflers. There's also a Cobra-spec T5 King Cobra clutch and Steeda gear jammer in there. Obligatory for any '80s-style build is a set of 3.55s.
On the inside, TMS relied on Latemodel Restoration Supply for many of the interior parts. Ted restored what he could, and then installed Procar seats by Scat and a G-Force harness, along with a Hurst shifter and few billet touches. The look is clean and classy.
"The car was ready in the spring of 2010; after a complete detailing, we trailered the car to Mr. Smith's front door. He and his wife were waiting and their faces lit up. They were ecstatic to see the magnificent transformation. Mr. Smith was so excited that he later asked us to pick up the car for phase two, which entailed detailing the undercarriage and upgrading the suspension with Steeda Sport springs and KYB GR2 shocks and struts."
With the affordability of Fox Mustangs-not only in regards to aftermarket performance parts but also restoration parts, including body panels, and interior and exterior trim-MM&FF and TMS recognizes a trend-in-the-making. We fully expect Mustang newbies and Fox owners of the past to pick up a worn Fox-body and rebuild it. Unlike the musclecar restoration craze, in which the focus is often on a correct restoration or replica of thereof, we expect to see modified Mustangs with enhanced power and handling, but serious streetability.
Having a personalized Fox Stang in the driveway is way cool, and for many, it's a great way to find cheap speed in a nifty little package. Fox-body Mustangs are the heart and soul of our hobby, and owning a Stang like this can bring immense Fox-body fun factor.