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Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/12/23 2:18 p.m.

“We're burning down the highway skyline

On the back of a hurricane that started turning

When you were young”

 

 

(It’s a wall of words below so if you want a TL; DR- I’m now the re-owner of my first car, a 1991 GT that was the car that made me love cars. )

 

 

Not sure how much of this will be a real project, but thought some folks might find this interesting and writing stuff down can keep me accountable.

 

 

I just became owner, again, of a 1991 Mustang GT.  This car has a long history with my family and it’s the foundation of my relationship with my father. 

My dad is the 3rd owner of the car, he bought it in November of 1996. I spent a year going to dealerships with him hunting for a Mustang before  we found this car.

 

(Circa 1996)

He owned it from 96-2002 (44k miles to 89k miles) when I bought it the first time. During his ownership we bonded over doing basic bolt ons and driving it to cruise ins. It was the only “cool” car in the family and got me hooked as a car guy. 

I bought it as my first car in 2002 and owned it until 2017. 

 

During that time it was my DD for about a year, but then put away for occasional use. I managed to keep it in decent shape and did some mods; 5-lug, explorer heads/intake, 5-lug conversion and a manual swap. 

Being busy (and broke) with college and starting a family meant I didn’t have much time or money for the car. It sat for years at a time, with the longest stretch being when the AOD failed and it didn’t move for 4 years. I collected a bunch of parts for it, but they remained uninstalled as I kind of fell out of love with it. I ended up in a situation where I needed the money to facilitate a move and I sold the car to my brother in 2017 (89k miles to 95k miles)

 

My brother bought it and set to cleaning it and installing a bunch of the parts I hoarded. He also added his own mark on it with some mods and kept it clean and inside. 

 

I’ve gotten in a better position since I sold it and decided I wanted to find a long term Radwood car to keep as a toy. I bounced around with cheap Hondas (a challenge integra and an EK hatch) while mulling what to settle with. I’ve stayed a fan of foxes, but If you’ve followed fox body prices you know that they’ve skyrocketed during the time since I sold mine so I wrote off owning another. 

My brother contacted me and let me know that due to a relocation he was considering parting with the car. We agreed on a family discounted price and I got the car back. 

 

So fast forward to today and what I’m documenting here. 

 

My brother had the car from 2017-2023 (95k to 97k miles). The car spent the last 2 years stored in a warehouse. 

 

I have a high level overview of what work he completed, but he doesn’t recall all of it. 
 

My plan is:

Clean it 

  • Document mods and recent maintenance
  • Drive it as much as possible 
  • Refresh the worn items and keep it nice - it’s a car that’s finally worth a semi restoration 
  • Upgrade brakes 

 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/12/23 2:29 p.m.

I set to a quick clean and started writing down the good and bad I know so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good: still in great shape for the age

No real rust, engine resealed and maint items all done when trickflow 360hp top end kit installed, steering rack replaced, new shocks/ lowering springs installed, full ignition system replaced. Spare repair and performance parts to come with it (still doing inventory), runs really strong but the 4.10 gears are a bit steep. 

 

The bad: Brake lines are leaking (full replacement lines included), someone dented the quarter panel while in storage, needs an alignment. Door pockets have sagged. Could stand to be tuned for the new engine set up. Wide band set up partially installed. Ground effects need a respray 

 

 

 

Started with my first improvement, fixing the sagging door pockets. 

 

 

 

It’s in dire need of an alignment, but once that’s done, I’ll log a few more miles and see how it’s going. Hopefully I can get it set close with EastsideTim's set up.
The few laps around the block tell me it’s making considerably more power than the old explorer heads and intake. I don't expect Ohio weather to stay nice much longer so it'll go up on stands for the brake lines and exploration soon. 
 

 

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
11/12/23 2:55 p.m.

Pretty car.

jfryjfry
jfryjfry UltraDork
11/12/23 4:10 p.m.

How'd you fix the sagging pockets?

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/12/23 4:45 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

The long term way is to replace the elastic, which I'll do eventually 

The current fix was to cut the elastic (it's visible inside the pocket) pull tight and knot it. Saw a YouTube video on it and it was pretty simple 

untchabl
untchabl HalfDork
11/12/23 5:34 p.m.

Nice car, that's my favorite 2-tone color scheme that was on the Fox bodies. Definitely worth the time to "restore" it and they are great cruiser cars. Unfortunately they're priced beyond what I'm willing to pay for a clean one nowadays.

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/12/23 6:00 p.m.

In reply to untchabl :

Thanks! You don't see a ton in this combo but we like it.
The prices are insane. Even with family discount I paid 2.5x what I sold it for in 17. 
 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/15/23 9:33 p.m.

In reply to ish_da :

Saleen or cobra would be the dream for sure but collector market prices definitely caught up to these. Had I not been able to get this one back, an SVO was high on my list. 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
11/15/23 9:43 p.m.

Made a small tweak today that was a big step toward enjoying the car.

EastsideTim dropped by with his curtain rod set up so we could get the toe set to a driveable position. 
 

  Not great way to snap pics of the in progress work but you can sort of eyeball how far out it was here:

 

Tims set up worked great. The tires measured  off 1" wider in the rear than the front.  After one big adjustment and one fine adjustment, it was good for a test drive. Wheel was straight, tracked straight and turned properly. Good enough until I can get it on an alignment machine to do a full caster/camber/toe adjustment 

hard to tell from the pic, but definitely an improvement 

Slow_M
Slow_M Reader
11/15/23 10:57 p.m.

In hindsight, my '89 5.0 GT was one of the most fun and rewarding car ownership experiences I've had. 

From that perspective alone, I'm happy that you have this car, but the connection with your family makes it truly special. Congratulations on having it again. 

B

eastsideTim
eastsideTim UltimaDork
11/17/23 11:28 a.m.

Gotten a chance to drive it more than around the block with the new alignment?  Hope it lets you get some miles on it before it gets put up for the winter.

akylekoz
akylekoz UltraDork
11/17/23 12:29 p.m.

Nice car, this is a 92 that I sold a few years ago.   Sounds like you have the motor mostly sorted, now just add frame ties before you crack an A pillar.   Is the suspension mostly stock?  There are several small tricks to make big improvements and a few big upgrades to really help them handle.

From when I sold mine.

 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 8:57 p.m.

In reply to akylekoz :

Suspension is mostly stock with one of the late model restoration lowering spring and oe replacemeny shock kits and a strut tower brace. Subframe connectors are going in and thankfully a set was included in the sale.  The motor is sorted to my liking for now (except getting a tune) so suspension and brakes are going to be my performance upgrade targets. Once I'm done churching it up. 
 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 9:05 p.m.

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated, but as this is more owner log than build, you didn’t miss much. 

 

Drove it a little bit more, and finally got some better pics. I set to a deep dive to make a punch list for the cold months.

First thing addressed were some observed surface rust spots on rear around the tail lights 


 

Tore in, and thankfully found it’s not bad. All surface and no real hidden spots. 

Ordered touch up, got it sanded, primed and painted. 


 

While the tails were off for the paint touch up I replaced the roached seals. I have to say I love how cheap and available restoration parts are for these cars. 

 

etifosi
etifosi SuperDork
2/13/24 9:10 p.m.

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 9:21 p.m.

Xmas brought some items from the want list. 

A center console with cupholders and USB port. Color matched floor mats to cut down the trashy vibe from the dirty gray 03 cobra mats

 

I also ordered some stuff to fix nagging issues - door lock actuator kit to get the power locks going again (future install)

A new armrest top and latch kit to fix the one that broke in 97. 

I can’t stand the plain plastic shift knob so sourced leather cobra unit. 

A new cowl seal for when I start the under hood clean up. 
 

 

 

Started the install on the console stuff and learned that the USB plug on the new console has a light, and the wiring kit connects it to a constant on power source. Some reviews indicated this eventually drained their batteries. This car will likely sit for periods at a time so wired in a relay to make it switched. 

 

While I had it all apart, I thought I’d address the radio situation. I’m hooked on Bluetooth but my brother had installed a (somewhat beat) stock head unit during his ownership. Found a guy on Facebook that rebuilds the stock radios with Bluetooth. He rebuilt, added Bluetooth and put on a nicer face trim all in around 3 days. Problem solved. 

With that sorted, the interior is good enough for the time being (90% where I want it) so I can move onto the "must do" list before spring driving; brake line repair and subframe connectors. 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 9:24 p.m.
etifosi said:

That is hilarious 

travellering
travellering Dork
2/13/24 9:38 p.m.

Nice ride!   I work with (at least) 3 mustang fan boys.  The Fox Body guy has just gotten into the world of engine swaps, so when I saw the thread title and flair, I came in expecting a Barra inline 6 and turbo for that Aussie touch....

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 9:40 p.m.

While bro was in town for the holidays went and grabbed first round of spares 

GT40p heads, intake, ford motorsport throttle body, roller rockers, 2 mass air meters (holding onto one for the time being) and an unnecessary number of ignition components (plug wires, coils, distributors). 

There’s still a bunch to go get (stock HCI, AC stuff, out of print tech books, etc) assuming his ex doesn’t junk them first. 

I started selling off the spares to recoup and sold nearly all but the heads within about 2 weeks. I'll cut a deal for a GRMer if anyone needs a set. 

I still need to sort out the extra ignition components and sell the ones I’m not going to keep as spares.  In talking with my brother, the excessive amount of ignition parts was the result of being more scatterbrained  than chasing any issues; He bought a full ignition kit with a distributor, coil, plug wires after already buying most of those components piecemeal. More to come

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/13/24 9:42 p.m.

In reply to travellering :

That sounds like a ton of fun (love the barra) but if I do any swapping I want to do a coyote

Turbo_Rev
Turbo_Rev Reader
2/14/24 9:02 a.m.

In my entire life, I would never believe I would like the maroon/red Fox interior but yours is perfect for the car. Mint condition, too. 

 

A glorious rad-era whip, my friend (those GTS headlight covers!). Looking forward to seeing it grow. 

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/14/24 11:21 a.m.

props for the Cobra rims

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
2/14/24 1:23 p.m.

In reply to Turbo_Rev :

Thanks! Its one of those things where there's a bunch of ways to have it look bad and only a few to look right. With any more wear than this, they look bad.  I'm really happy with it. Just needs the carpets cleaned. 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
4/10/24 12:55 p.m.

Frustration 

As I had left off, the plan was to dig into the issues  that needed sorting before spring driving season; namely brakes, wheel rubbing, alignment and subframe connectors. 

 

First I dove into the brakes. It came with an unspecified brake leak, and a full set classic tube stainless lines new in a box. The master cylinder and booster were new before it was parked. The little info I got from my brother was it was leaking in one spot. I noticed no fluid drips anywhere other than  under the master cylinder. The paint bubbled off the k member and frame rail confirm. 

Looking at it, the lower line that connects to the underside was covered in fluid. I confirmed the fitting was tight and set to prepping to replace the line when I noticed the top of the master cyl was shiny. 

 

 

The reservoir was leaking at the front. 

 

Ordered a new master cylinder to pirate the reservoir, but found that the leak persisted.
 

Reassembled the reservoir back on the new master and swapped. Everything sealed up like it should. 

 

In typical fashion, the passenger side caliper bleeder broke when attempting to bleed

A rebuilt caliper was sourced and all is back together. 

What might not be clear to everyone at this point is that aside from a few laps through my neighborhood, I’ve not really driven the car. I certainly have not driven it in anger. 

 

With the brakes managed, I warmed it up and took it for a spin.  Wide open throttle above 3000 and the car breaks up bad. It's fine part throttle and low speed.

 

E36 M3. 

 

Call my brother to ask about drivability as he daily drove it for a bit. He claims to have never gone WOT with it in its h/c/I configuration. 

So my assumption the car was at least mostly dialed in was apparently wrong

 

E36 M3. 

Cooper_Tired
Cooper_Tired Dork
4/10/24 1:07 p.m.

I got the car parked and dug into it to make a mental list of the possible suspects based on symptoms

 

Timing- it has been hard to start, which I attributed to weak battery, but maybe it’s timing. I do know the ignition advance is very conservative and needs addressed at some point.

 

Fuel -The fuel filter is new. The pressure at the rail is high (50psi) and rises with throttle) but I am not sure if that’s too much for its needs given it’s a drastically different engine set up than the stock set up (39psi). It's possible the pump could be not supplying enough under load. Or injectors might not be what I was told (24lb). 

 

Ignition. It could be a failing component (coil, module, distributor), but all of it is new and aftermarket. This is a can of worms I’ll crack into if elimination sends me here but not something I'm eager to chase.

 

Mechanical - rockers could be out of adjustment. The cam timing could be off. Something else could have damage? All really unknown and potential issues. 

 

Other - fox bodies can get finicky about the tps sensor voltage- is that good? Does it have a Vacuum leak? The vacuum lines were redone with the motor work, but are they correct? 

 

I decided to go in order of simplicity.
First things first, I set to checking base timing. 

The timing was way out. Way out. Like it was set to the wrong point of the timing marker (green circle) versus the correct (yellow line)

I reset base back to ~ 16 and the car starts much better. I took it for a spin and now it’s not breaking up at WOT, but it loses all power above 3000. I also notice letting off the throttle it pops loudly in the exhaust. 

 

Next I Pull the spark plugs to check. Its hard (for me) to glean any health indication from the plugs but no obvious red flags

 

 

 

What is clearly an issue is that out of 8 plugs, I measured 7 different gaps.

 

I cleaned them, set to .050 and reinstalled. The Idle smoothed a bit but still no power above 3000

 

Time to check fuel . The car came with a mostly installed wideband 02 gauge. This will be of use in diagnosing a fuel issue. Digging through the parts that came with it confirmed the sensor was missing so a new was sourced. 

Since I wanted to put cats back on, I ordered a catted h-pipe and had EastsideTim weld on a bung for the o2

 

I made sure I sourced the new h pipe from the same brand (BBK) as the off road h pipe and headers. 

Which didn’t matter of course as it didn’t fit. 

The spacing at the header was a full inch too narrow on the new pipe. 


 


thankfully the muffler sides matched.

We set to bending it to match the old h-pipe and got it to open up to 15"

 

 

However It broke at the Injection pipe on the cat

Once I get it welded up again, I will throw it on, fix the inevitable alignment issues at the cat back, then button it up with the wideband and see if it’s a fuel issue. 

More to come!

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