48k Original Miles: 1979 Ford Mustang

With clean examples of the Fox-body Mustang continuing to grow in popularity, cars like this 1979 model are always sure to attract plenty of attention. It features a healthy V8 under the hood, and with a genuine 48,000 miles showing on the odometer, it is a car that should be capable of providing its next lucky owner with years of enjoyable motoring. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Mike (al bundy) for referring this classic to us. It is located in Adrian, Michigan, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set the sale price for the Mustang at $10,000 OBO.

The Bright Red Mustang is a very tidy looking vehicle. When the Fox-body Mustang hit the showroom floors for the 1979 model year, its styling was a world apart from the previous Mustang II. It was crisp and modern, and it owed little to its predecessors. If you look across the entire history of the Mustang, virtually every model bore some passing resemblance to the 1st Generation vehicles. These cars don’t, and this allows them to stand out in a crowd. The panels on this little Ford are as straight as an arrow, while the gaps appear to be nice and tight. The original paint has little more than a few minor chips, while there is no evidence of any rust problems. The color-coded bumpers have managed to hang onto their finish well, the external trim looks crisp, and there are no apparent signs of any issues with the glass.

If the exterior condition of the Mustang is impressive, then the interior offers more of the same. It is hard to find anything significant to be critical of inside the car. There is some very minor wrinkling of some of the vinyl on the outer edges of the seats, but no wear or stains. There is also some slight sagging of the headliner that the buyer will need to address. Thankfully, the headliner isn’t torn or split, so fixing it should be a reasonably straightforward task. The plastic doesn’t show any signs of deterioration due to age or UV exposure, and even the carpet is free from fading, wear, and stains. There are no cracks in the dash, and no wear on the sports steering wheel, which is the only aftermarket addition. The interior isn’t loaded with a lot of luxury features, but you do get the comprehensive set of gauges, cruise, an AM radio, and air conditioning.

Lifting the hood exposes the 302ci V8 engine, which produced 140hp. Compared to what was available a decade earlier, that isn’t a lot of power. However, this engine is backed by a 4-speed manual transmission, which should allow more enthusiastic drivers the chance to extract the best from the vehicle. The owner not only claims that the Mustang has a genuine 48,000 miles on its odometer, but that it has only accrued 312 of those miles since 2006. That doesn’t mean that the car has been neglected or left to go to seed. He says that it has been properly maintained, that it starts right up and drives very nicely.

There is no disputing the fact that this 1979 Mustang is a tidy car, and it appears that its condition is the result of careful ownership. As previously stated, values are continuing to climb, but the most significant growth has tended to be for the more performance-oriented offerings. Vehicles like this are experiencing the increase, but not to the same extent. The price on this one is right at the very top end of what you might expect to pay for a pristine example, but the sagging headliner means that it isn’t pristine. That makes me believe that the owner might have set his sights a bit high. Having said that, it does appear that he is open to offers, so maybe that’s a question that could be worth asking.


  1. Howard A Member

    I have to say, this is the least threatening 5.0 Mustang I’ve ever seen. I’d pull the “5.0” badges off and fool everyone. I had an ’88, miserable cars, sorry, I’d never want another. Now my ’95,,,THAT was a nice Mustang..

    Like 4
    • MX5Racer

      I don’t know about fooling anyone, that 140 HP is the same as lowly V6 Stangs had later! You would flat smoke the base 4 cylinders, though :)

  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    The 1979 Mustang was very popular with 369,000 sold. But today, outside of Pace Cars, they are rarely seen. Especially in great condition like this one. I like it a lot.

    But I’ll admit I’m more than a big prejudiced towards them. Here’s mine. I’ve owned it 41 years– ordered it new. Highly optioned (20 options) straight six automatic. Restored and now a show car.

    Like 22
    • bone

      I had a straight 6 with a stick . It was a fastback Ghia . I never saw another one with a 200 . It really had some power !

      Like 2
    • Capriest

      I had an 81 ghia coupe with the 200 six auto, and the ultra rare carriage roof. Man that thing was slow, but I daily drove it for 3 years with few problems after I sorted it out. This was about 10 years ago. I was going to rip that out and drop a 351 in it, but I sold it before that happened. I did replace it with an 83 capri rs that already had a 5.0 5speed that I still have, but I miss that old 81 coupe. I found it, but someone trashed it. It just needed paint when I sold it.

  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Detailed engine.

    Like 13
    • Stevieg Member

      Nice car Bob!
      When I was about 22 years old, I dated a chick that lived across the state. She had a yellow 1979 Mustang hatchback. It was EXTREMELY clean, inline 6 and automatic. I really liked that car. It had the same style deluxe interior & center console as the feature car, but in a buckskin brown color. I really wish I could have gotten the car from her before we parted ways.
      This feature car looks like it would be an absolute blast to drive. Very subtle looking for a red Mustang with a 5.0 & stick shift.

      Like 4
  4. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Beautiful car. Are we sure the steering wheel isn’t original?

    Like 2
    • Stevieg Member

      It looks original to me. The optional “sport” steering wheel.

      Like 9
      • Frank

        Definitely original….had the same wheel in my 79 Capri!

        Like 2
  5. Jack M.

    Back in the ‘80’s when I sold new 5.0 Mustangs, we had a few 1979 5.0 Mustangs come in on trade. All of them had severe axle hop when you floored it. I have never seen any car that hooked up any worst.

    Like 7
    • Howard A Member

      I’ve seen these strip the 4 bolt wheels off too.

      Like 2
  6. dirtyharry

    So unpretentious. Just give me a V8, 4 speed car and don’t skimp on the tires. Of course, I want white walls and no racer trim. I am glad this car is so far away. I would buy it. Lots of fun for that price. Great find.

    Like 4
  7. NotchNut

    Very nice car! From the pictures I see a couple of things I would have to check out before buying. I may be wrong, but I believe that steering wheel was only available for the Pace Cars. One thing I know for sure is the engine cradle and lower control arms are aftermarket. On a stock car it does make since to change them without other modifications. Still would like to have it.

    Like 2
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Stevieg is correct. And, thanks for the kind words.

      There were three (or five, depending on how you count them) steering wheels available for the 1979 Mustang. The base wheel was a two-spoke with a round center emblem. Then there was this wheel, which was available on the Cobra and Pace Car and as part of the Sport Option on base cars (which my car has). This car’s wheel has silver spokes which marks it as an early year build. My car, built in March, has this wheel but with black spokes. Finally there was a four-spoke wheel with a rectangular center emblem, in two styles: one was the tilt wheel, another was the tilt wheel but also with cruise control.

      Imagine that today, a variety of steering wheels for one car line.

      Like 13
  8. Steve R

    It’s nice, but will never have the appeal of the 86 and newer fuel injected 5.0’s H.O.’s. They have little in common other than a shared body shell and engine displacement.

    Steve R

    Like 3
    • Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

      I agree Steve, but it has a certain honest charm, much like a Mustang II or a 65 with a 289.

      Like 3
    • bone

      Isnt that a lot of sharing ? LOL

      Like 1
  9. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Sagging headliner…. very common. I’m on my sixth headliner (!!!).

    Like 2
  10. Keith

    10k is way too much but I must admit it’s really clean considering that it’s a first year model of the fox mustang.

    Like 2
  11. jwzg

    Did Ford start using the serpentine belt drive that far back?

    Like 1
  12. Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

    This car belongs in a museum. First year of the Fox bodies. An example of what you saw on the road in the 80’s.

    Like 1
    • B302

      First year of Fox body Mustang, not first year of Fox body.

      Like 3
  13. lc

    They are cool especially if a 5spd. Back in the late 80s I had the sibling company version of this. It was an 81 Mercury Capri with a 6 cyl, v6, and standard transmission. Owned it for about 10yrs. I sold it for only $500 bucks because I thought that I was moving out of state which I never did.

    Like 1
  14. jerry z

    I can’t believe I’m saying this but this car is sweet! I agree with Howard A, pulled off the 5.0 badges, hop up the engine a little (or alot!) and enjoy the ride.

    Like 1
  15. Mike

    I had a 1980 Mustang hatchback, two-tone blue and white, had the same factory steering wheel, I have been searching for an early Fox body and clean ones are getting slim pickings. I believe this will sell for what they are asking for or close to it. Most are modified or hacked up.

    Like 1
  16. Amy

    Very nice to see a survivor in such great condition. I have 3 79s myself but you really don’t see them very often

    Like 2
  17. Frank

    Old enough to have been the original owner of a 1979 Mercury Capri, the sister car to this Mustang, that looked very similar to this car. It was a red RS model and was perhaps the worst new car I’ve ever owned. The day I took delivery, there were 28 things wrong with it! Small things like snapped bolts on the hatchback’s hinges to big things like the fact the driver’s side of the car was optioned as an RS model, while the passenger side came down the assembly line as a standard model! It was a beautiful car, but not one of the best I’ve owned! I was sad, but think it was indicative of how low the American car manufacturing industry had sunk.

    Like 3
  18. bone

    Very popular car for oval track racing ; in the 1990s at our local track 30 of the 35 or so cars that raced in the Mini stocks were Fox body Mustangs, the majority were coupes. It got harder to find them and guys were pulling carcasses out of the junkyards . So many of these cars were cut up that you just dont see them in CT. anymore

    Like 1
  19. JCA Member

    For around $10k you can get an ’85 and up which are nicer

    Like 2
  20. lc

    True. I offered my 90 Mustang LX locally for 10k to a particular person looking for one like mine. The older ones are nice in good condition like this one; however, the later model ones are better overall in appearance.

    Like 1
  21. JoeNYWF64

    I do love the interior – could you also still get all vinyl seats? Odd tho how low the interior door handles are mounted!
    Looks like ford asked JCW to design the exterior plastics – especially those wheel center caps(gotta look better with them off). & the black plastic vent piece on top at the cowl has no business being there either.
    Is this the same 2bbl v8 as in the ’79 stang gt? If so, what is the difference between the 2 cars?!
    So few of these left? why – did these rust out just as fast as other ’70s cars?
    Why no 5 lug wheels? Even the 1st stang V8 came with 13″ 5 lug wheels!
    Does not anyone carry a modern type ez to install much more durable headliner for this car? If not, i would not buy a 3rd one, let alone be on my 6th!! lol Just pull it out & dont look up! lol

    Like 1
    • JCA Member

      Lugs, schmugs. Not sure why everyone points this out. I’ve seen 4 lug GTs drifting all day long and never saw a wheel fly off. Yet most people with drive these like a grandpa and pine for that extra lug. It’s just a basic big V8 engine light car, cheap to make and affordable to buy. You’ll be fine with 4 lugs I promise.

      Like 3
  22. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Here is more 1979 Mustang trivia, referencing questions above.

    There were two seat styles. The base seat was a high-back unit. It was available in all vinyl or a funky cloth pattern. The upscale seat was a low-back unit. The Ghia had a different headrest style for this seat. These seats were available in all vinyl, cloth and vinyl (this car has this style), and leather. The upholstery was available in six colors. Compare all this choice to typical cars today.

    The low-mounted door handles were a ‘fail’, they were moved upward for 1980. But one gets used to them.

    Why so few remain? My observation and opinion:

    They did rust, but nothing severe, certainly not to the extent compared to cars of the 60’s and early 70’s. However, at their core, they were simple, basic, cheaply made economy cars…. not unlike first generation Mustangs. So for most people, they were used up then thrown away. It seems as the Fox Body cars got more into their (long) production run, the cars did improve to some extent (more power, for example) and people better realized their significance, thus more remain today.

    Joe, not sure what you are referencing, there was no 1979 Mustang GT. Perhaps you are thinking of the Cobra?

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      There was no GT or Mach 1 in ’79 & these cars still sold like hotcakes?! I don’t get it – unless maybe simply because they looked so different than the ’78 that had a 5 yr old body style?
      The ’79 certainly not a more sporty looking car than the ’78 fastback, which IMO looked more like a mustang – a baby one tho – lol.

  23. Lc

    THere was an 80 Mustang hatchback with a Saleen looking spoiler mounted on its rear and updated wheels for sale here locally on Craigs Denver for about a month, but has been taken off. It had the low mounted door handles, and side ways door button just above it. They were asking $1700 for it. Had 6 cyl and automatic.

  24. SteveK

    This was the car I wanted. What I got was an ’81 Mustang coupe with the 2300 4 speed. S-L-O-W. Awful seats, so so interior and overall, just not a great car. This one in red looks like a lot more fun

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