Collectible Fox-Body: 1979 Mustang Pace Car

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Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

It’s a sign of getting old that the cars that were new when I got my driver’s license are now collectible! When the Fox-body Mustang was introduced in 1979, replacing the largely unloved Mustang II, it offered what was then a new level of performance for a Mustang. Enthusiasts were excited at the availability of a turbocharged 4-cylinder in addition to the venerable 302 V-8, as well as the Michelin TRX performance tire system. The most exciting of all was the commemorative Indy Pace Car edition, with real Recaro seats and many unique features. This largely original, preserved since new car is located in Nixa, Missouri and is up for sale here on eBay with a buy-it-now price of $14,900 but lower bids being accepted.

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The seller has improved the condition of  the car over the past three years since purchasing it from the original owner’s niece, but kept it as original as possible. While they do report resprayed tops of the front fenders and an issue with the transmission popping out of third gear under load, the rest of the car appears to be in excellent mechanical and cosmetic condition.

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One would presume the model displayed on the air cleaner comes with the car; I remember building a kit back in 1980 as soon as one came out, and it makes a nice touch when displaying the car. The under hood appearance of the 302 V-8 is phenomenal, and the seller has since replaced the generic battery shown here with a new replica of the original Motorcraft one. Attention to detail like that is probably part of the reason the car has taken some best-of-show wins recently.

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The interior looks as nice as the exterior, although if I were planning on driving the car much I’d get a spare set of wheels with new tires; those are an original set of TRX tires on the car right now! You can also see a large collection of items related to the car in the hatch area, hopefully those are included as well. I hope this pony survivor finds someone who appreciates the effort spent on keeping it so nice. My only problem is that I’d want to drive the car too much–how do you feel about survivors like this one?

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Comments

  1. SoCal Car Guy

    If you want a Fox-body Mustang that’s actually fun to drive, get an ’85-93, either GT or a 5.0L-powered LX, with a five-speed manual trans (The AODs really cut the fun factor down). Best of the Foxes is the ’93 SVT Cobra, but the price of admission is a lot higher.
    This car, this vintage, is NOT a performance or muscle car, and this specific car is too nicely preserved to use for anything except an occasional cruise night or m
    car shows.

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  2. Karl

    Agreed. This car has paint-on performance, or should I say, stick-on. It looks really nice, but if you mess up those fancy decals in daily driving, good luck finding replacements.
    In ’82, to combat the new Camaro, Ford revived all of this body cladding, Recaro seats, and TRX wheels, but added a 157HP 302 that came only with 4-speed. This was the first Fox-body Mustang GT, and it came only in red, black, or silver, body-colored trim with no decals. It was somewhat crude, since Ford had money troubles and had to raid all of it’s parts bins to put it together, but it succeeded in two ways: it could run with the new Camaro, and it convinced the Ford brass that there was still a market for a performance Mustang.
    SoCal is right that the ’85s on up are superior cars (’85 was the first year for fuel injection), but I think that the ’82-84s are worth a look too. A guy on my street had an ’82 GT in red, and I always liked its looks, even though a little plain–maybe because of it.

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    • SoCal Car Guy

      1985 was both the first year for fuel injection and the last year for carburetors. Mustang GTs with automatics (the AOD) came with the CFI throtlle body injection system, which was pretty dreadful. Five-speed manual trans GTs had a four-barrel carburetor. If I remember right (my reference materials are packed up at the moment) the carb’d GT had 200 hp; the CFI/automatic was 165 or 175 hp — not a good deal to pay more money for less power and poor driveability. The sequential port injection system was on all 1986 Mustang GTs.

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  3. Charles H.

    Had a 79 Cobra, which is the first year of the Fox Body, drove for a couple yrs. then bought a new 1993 Cobra, which was the last yr. of the Fox.

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  4. pontiactivist

    My dad had the 4cyl turbo version. Was a fun car to cruise around in at 18. Remember out running the conneaut Ohio cops one night in that thing. Was almost 25 years ago. Bought myself an 83 red gt t-top a few years later. Put a 351w in it after killing the 5.0. Was a lot of memories in those two cars.

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  5. Mark E

    As the former owner of a Thunderbird with TRX radials I’d offer him $12,900 as is or $14,900 with 15″ wheels and tires. TRX radials were (are?) hard to find, about 2.5x as expensive and only slightly higher performance. One of Fords worst “better ideas” >_<

    It only took me 9 months to get tired of hydroplaining on wet roads and losing control in slush. Bought a set of 15″ steelies and the car was about 150% more driveable in all conditions. Admittedly this car will probably only be driven in the summer to car shows but, heh, you see what passion the three letters TRX brings up…

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  6. MikeW

    For that kind of money i’d opt for a 85-86 SVO, BEST FOX BUILT! They came with 205 HP and 3.73 gears that will throw you back in the seat! and don’t forget those large Lincoln disc brakes all the way around!

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  7. Juan

    I had a 79 Cobra 4 2.3 Turbo (my firts REAL car), very fun to drive, The Michelins TRX were great but not amazing, when i was in 3rd. speed at 45MPH the Timing Belt died, but fortunately no engine harm was done, I owned it for 4 months, I still miss it.

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  8. Michael V.

    I have an 86 GT convertible with a 5-speed. It’s fun but kind of crude, but that just adds to the fun in some ways. A drunk one-armed mechanic can fix it in his sleep, and you can get almost everything from interior parts to, yes, replacement decals for the pace car online. What’s not to like?

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  9. Derek F

    True, it’s not the driver’s car that later Fox cars can be, but this watershed Mustang nicely bookends the Fox era for some Mustang nut’s collection: fun enough to occasionally drive and not so rare that you won’t drive it. The Recaro seats in these cars are fantastic, though not particularly durable.

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