The Perfect Platform? 1981 Ford Mustang LX

This 1981 Ford Mustang LX is claimed to be an impressive survivor, residing with just one elderly owner who ceased driving it many years ago. It is stock and equipped with a manual transmission and four-cylinder mill. While not terribly exciting, the seller feels this is the perfect platform to build the Fox Body of your dreams: do you agree? Find it here on eBay where the seller has listed a Buy-It-Now of $6,000. 

On the inside, the theme of originality is obvious. The woodgrain dash inlays looks fantastic, and hopefully that dash topper has kept the surface underneath free of cracks. The steering wheel still cleans up nicely, as do the carpets. The seating surfaces, particularly the driver’s side, leave much to be desired, but if the odometer has rolled over once, it begins to make more sense that the seat may look tired. It’s always a plus to see a manual transmission in a car like this.

Now, the seller goes on, extolling the virtues of owning a virgin-like car such as this. He claims this is the smart way to spend your money, as opposed to buying a car out of your price range (like a Mustang GT) or purchasing someone else’s project that may have too many loose ends left to tie up. I suppose I agree with that logic, but I don’t see this as a platform for a build. This car is too nice; it should simply be restored. There are plenty of ratty Fox Bodies out there begging for an engine swap.

Now, speaking of engines, this one isn’t going to exactly light your world on fire, but it should be perfectly adequate for most folks. As per keeping it with this Mustang versus swapping in a modern powerplant, I’m undecided: in one circumstance, I can see it being fun and achievable without destroying a rare car in the process. On the other hand, I’m a big believer in driving cars how they came from the factory, and with a Mustang as original as this, it seems like a shame to cut it up. What would you do?

Fast Finds


  1. flmikey

    The seller’s description is worth a few chuckles…you can tell he or she is a car salesman/woman…I love fox body Mustangs, and like this one, but a notchback Mustang is not a “dream car” as the seller describes…

    Like 1
  2. Scott Rasmussen

    Wow, that dash looks a lot like our Ford Fairmont wagon we had when I was a kid. No, that’s not a complement


    coyote swap in order.

    • King Al


    • Mike H. Mike H

      Double that Amen.

  4. J Paul Member

    I wouldn’t feel guilty at all for using this as a basis for a project. Given that it’s not nearly in pristine condition (faded/missing trim, ripped seats, likely 115,000 miles) there’s no real reason for keeping it as a 1981 time capsule.

  5. Erich

    Perfect sleeper candidate.

  6. Steve R

    Even though decent factory V8 87-93 Mustang LX’s are hard to find, they don’t go for much more than this car. This is probably a $2,500 car, at best. It isn’t cost effective to build it into a race car from scratch and the 4 headlight front end isn’t particularly popular. It isn’t smog exempt in California, so would likely not make a decent project unless it’s shipped out of state.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  7. Tom Smith

    I had a ’79 hatchback 4 cylinder 5 speed standard. The 2.4 litre engine had 8 plugs. It was California compliant (which was memorable because that was unusual in Canada at the time). I’d buy one again. It got 35 miles to an Imperial gallon. But I don’t like yellow.

  8. John T

    Had one of these very similar to this except it was a 4-speed. Bought it brand spankin’ new in 1982 for $6600! My biggest regret was not getting the hatchback. The tiny trunk in the coupe was totally useless, really nothing more than a bad joke. The 2.3 liter Pinto 4-cylinder engine also was no big deal although the fuel mileage was OK. This was simply a basic every day bare bones commuter car. Not worth more than half of the Buy-It-Now price and even that is overly optimistic. Hopefully whoever buys this one will use it as a daily driver and just drive the wheels off of it until the engine expires like mine did and then go ahead put in the 5.0 V8.

  9. ROAR

    They made a zillion of these so it’s a “nice old car” one could put the factory blower on it along with the 5 speed if it is a 4 and have a fun lump, I friend had one of those and it went like a BOH! It weighs less than a earlier or later mustang so will go better!

  10. Paul Hudson

    I drove one like this to HS. It was black on black no A/C , Very hot in the summer, same 4 CYL and 4 Speed there was no 5 speed back then. It was actually fun to drive and fuel efficient. I’d buy one again even with this setup but the reality is it’s a $2500 car in this condition. Like others have said you can find an actual GT for this price. My dream would be a stock Convertible with the 5.0. I had a 1989 model hatch with 4-CYL and 5 Speed this was a nice car overall and I got my $400 out of that one. Gas mileage was 25-30 on the 89 which was fuel injected.I like the yellow but not the mustard interior.

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