One Owner: 1983 Ford Mustang GT

This 1983 Ford Mustang GT ticks a few of the right boxes for anyone hunting for a project car. It is a one-owner classic that has a genuine 66,000 miles showing on its odometer. It looks like its cosmetic requirements aren’t major, meaning that returning it to its former glory could be easy and affordable. Adding to its appeal was this owner’s decision to order the car with the most desirable drivetrain combination that Ford offered in that model year. The icing on the cake is that it is cheap, which is especially important for anyone seeking a project build on a budget. We always appreciate it when our Barn Finders refer great classics to us, so I have to say a big thank you to rex m for pointing us towards the GT. It is located in Milpitas, California, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. You could park this diamond in the rough in your workshop for $4,800.

It’s worth noting that if the buyer wanted to drive this Mustang as an original survivor, it appears to have no issues that would prevent this. The Bright Red paint looks tired, and there’s no doubt that the entire car would benefit from a cosmetic refresh. Apart from one headlamp that would demand immediate attention due to severe deterioration, I can’t see any visible problems that would render the car unsafe or unroadworthy. The panels have collected a few repairable dings and dents, but there are no obvious signs of any rust issues. The roof has accumulated some surface corrosion, but the lack of any problems beyond this point suggests that this car is structurally sound. The center cap is missing from one wheel, but the wheels themselves appear to be in good order. The same is true of the exterior trim, while I can’t spot any problems with the glass.

This Mustang’s interior continues the car’s overall theme of being serviceable but needing work if it is to lift to the next level. The big-ticket item is undoubtedly going to be the dash pad. It looks like the San Andreas Fault, and there are a few options for buyers to consider. These range from sourcing a carpet cover for under $50 or a glue-on PVC unit to approximate the original appearance for approximately $120. The top end of the range is a replacement pad, but as the ones that I’ve located are black, someone would need to perform a color change that matched the remaining trim and plastic. At $350, they aren’t cheap, but the choice will depend on the buyer’s vision for the finished product. If I were to buy this car, I would patiently scour the online auction sites searching for parts because this interior has a few other needs. Most of the seat upholstery is good, although the driver’s seat shows some wear and early signs of seam failure. A set of replacement covers would cost $400, but some patient searching might produce rewarding results. That would also allow the buyer to locate a few pieces to replace some of the deteriorating plastic without blowing the budget.

When the owner ordered this Mustang, they decided to equip it with the 5.0-liter “HO” V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. If you wanted a Mustang with performance credentials in 1983, this was about as good as it got. However, it is interesting to reflect on the evolution of the 5.0-liter V8 as it transitioned from the last examples of the Mustang II until we reach our feature car. The best that buyers could hope for in 1978 was a V8 that produced 139hp and sent the Mustang II through the ¼ mile in 17.1 seconds. By 1983, the power figure had jumped to 175hp, and the ¼-mile ET had been slashed to a neat 16 seconds. These were the first signs that American manufacturers were learning how to extract the best from engines saddled with tightening emission regulations, and the news would continue to get better from there. This GT runs and drives, and the owner claims it has a genuine 66,000 miles on the clock. He doesn’t indicate whether he holds verifying evidence, but it is possible since he has been the car’s sole owner since new. He says that the Mustang has been sitting for a while and that he believes it has a vacuum leak from the carburetor. Addressing this should not be difficult and is another of those little tasks that the buyer could add to their “to do” list.

This 1983 Mustang GT is one of those funny classics that occasionally appear on our desks at Barn Finds. The list of work needed is pretty long, but none of the tasks is a major undertaking in itself. Rather, this is a restoration project comprised of many little jobs, which can be an important consideration in certain circumstances. I have seen rookies attempt to tackle major projects, and it is common for them to throw in the towel because they find the entire process overwhelming. In reality, they should have been seeking this type of project as a first build. They could pick one task, complete it, and step back with a sense of satisfaction as the survey a job well done. If that task doesn’t pan out as anticipated, it is one single aspect of the build that they can always tackle for a second time utilizing the knowledge that they gained from the first attempt. Success builds success, and confidence will grow as larger and more complex tasks are undertaken. That is what this Mustang GT offers potential buyers, and if you are considering a first project build, this has to be worthy of serious consideration.


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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Good write-up Adam. I think he has this car nailed: it needs plenty of attention, but most of it appears to be straightforward and (excluding paint) not terribly expensive. It is something one could tackle as time and money are available. And it’s on a car, a four-eye Fox, which is starting to appreciate in value. Cheap starting point and a potentially fun project.

    First item of business is cheap: new headlight. Second item of business is even cheaper: ditch the trailer hitch.

    Like 12
    • RayT Member

      Might want to shell out for replacement rims fairly soon, too, as those look like the spendy TRX wheels to me….

      Like 3
  2. Terrry

    I don’t know why Mustangs of this era are called “Fox bodies”, as their bodies don’t have anything in common with the original earlier Fox-platform Fairmont. That’s what these Mustangs should be called-Fox platform. With that out of the way, this car is the best looking of the pre-retro (2005) Fox platform Mustangs. And it has the 5.0! The price is right for an easy-restore driveable project.

    • Miminite

      Technically you are correct. But it’s just something that’s been said for so long that now it’s accepted that “Fox bodies” means “Fox platforms”.

      IMO it’s similar to other language slang bits like making a Xerox or get me some Scotch tape. Usually not exactly correct, but everyone knows what you’re talking about.

  3. Jon Green

    This is the perfect Father – Son/Daughter who is 14/15/16 – COVID project. Work on it with the kid, and when the kid is ready to drive, can drive it (and it’s a stick! Cool!).

    Not so fast that the kid will get into trouble, modern enough that it will stop and handle respectably, reasonably safe, and if the car is scratched or damaged, you won’t be super upset.

    Like 4
  4. Gary

    I’d buy it and drive the snot out of it. I had a LX with a luggage rack and this drivetrain in it for a demo back in the day. They sold it and I got a Cougar next with the 5.0 and it was pretty quick. It would absolutely melt the tires, wire hubcaps and all

  5. Mercuryman

    This is a perfect father and son project. Not overwhelming, but enough things to spend quality time bonding and building confidence. Great deal on a great car

    Like 4
  6. Jon G.

    If this were an East coast car, I would be all over it for a father-son redo. My almost 16 year old is dying for a Fox Mustang. Good looking ride!

    Like 2
    • Don Eladio


      They have these really cool trucks that have, get this, trailers behind them that haul cars! Can you believe it?

      I love the people that just have to write something every time. It’s always the same: “But, if only it weren’t…”

  7. Brad460 Member

    The 83 and 84 mustang’s are my personal styling favorite of all the fox platform cars. I like the quad light look with the smooth front grille.

    As per the other commenter stating that we should call these fox platform not fox body, I think either is correct. Other than the skins, most of the supporting body structure such as the firewall, floorplans, mounting points etc are pretty close to the same on all the fox cars, and since all those parts are technically part of the unibody shell, I think it could correctly be called either fox body or platform

    Like 1
  8. Sam Shive

    It’s a 5.0 Nuff Said. Saw many of these rebuilt and on the 1320. Great starting point. Leave it Stock, Built It And GO WILD. In Todays World, Clear Coat The PITINA And Let It Roll, Just Don’t Let It Rot.

  9. Miminite

    I like this car. Personally, I’d leave it pretty much stock, clean it up, leave the patina alone except for any unseen damage, redo the interior and underhood, and just enjoy it.

    Well that or put a Coyote in it lol…

  10. JoeNYWF64

    In general, the start of excessive not so great quality exterior plastic – mirrors(could Ford not make a plastic version of their racing mirror?), headlight buckets, wiper cowl area, & side window covers that only cheapen any car’s appearance.
    Even the plastic grill up front is not of the same quality as those of late ’60s & many ’70s cars.
    I’m surprised that the windshield & side window moldings aren’t plastic too, instead of flat black painted over metal. I believe that cheap paint has been entirely scraped off the rear hatch molding.
    But the mechnicals tho on this gen are superior to the ’74-78s.
    IMO, the sister car Merc Capri handles the plastic on the front end better, but the rear end is odd.

  11. Motorcityman Member

    84 added dual exhaust and more ponies……I’d look for that.

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