Possible Pig In A Poke: 1988 Mustang Convertible

Sometimes you just stumble on a great deal.  Other times, you stumble on a great deal that turns out to be a real lesson from the P.T. Barnum School of Business.  With this particular Mustang, I cannot tell what is going on.  It is a Fox body convertible, it has a 5.0 V-8 engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, and it looks to be in pretty good condition.  However, its the price that scares me.  This 1988 Ford Mustang convertible, located in Pinson, Alabama, is for sale on Craigslist for just $2000.  While the owner states that the car was backed into, and provides pictures of the damage, this still seems to be a smoking good deal on a Fox body that is in fairly good condition.

As you can see, the damage is not too severe.  It doesn’t appear that there is any damage to the inner structure, and a good body man could probably repair that panel without going through all the trouble to replace it.  The paint on the rest of the car looks good enough that a total repaint probably wouldn’t be needed either.  Spotting it in would be a more inexpensive option, and the repair would likely  blend in well enough to fool the average observer.  Of course, all of this relies on finding a good body man.  My guess is that it could be fixed for under $500, but I’d like to hear reader’s opinions on that estimate.

This second picture of the damage isn’t as clear.  The dark blue paint hides the damage a bit, but you can see the fender flare and the crease leading to the trunk would be your biggest concerns here.  Another concern shows up in this picture.  The vinyl under the back window on the convertible top looks to have a tear in it.  Pictures show the car parked under a cover, and let’s hope it stays there.  A water leak in that area can cause a lot of damage, from mold and odors to the usual rust.

At first glance, the interior looks good.  There is a crack in the arm rest, and the cheesy steering wheel cover would have to go.  The dash looks to be crack free, and the carpet looks to be in good order, especially for not having the factory floor mat installed.  At the top of the picture, it looks like the top needs some repair.

The picture from the passenger side doesn’t paint as rosy a picture.  We can now see the small tear in the passenger seat that was hidden before.  It looks like it could be repaired at a reasonable price, but I would be concerned about the repair blending in with the fading evident on the seat.  Perhaps the seats could be dyed to hide the sun damage, but with fading comes a weakening of the fabric.  We can also see the ash tray area.  It doesn’t look like the ash tray has been used, but is that a pack of cigarettes holding the cover open?  I can’t see for the handbrake, but the yellowing on the white vinyl part of the driver’s seat could be a sign of nicotine staining.  It also appears that an aftermarket stereo unit has been installed, and I would be happy with that if it were limited to just an upgrade of the unit itself.  I’ve owned a Ford of this vintage with a stereo, and I upgraded as soon as possible to something more user friendly.

In the back seat, we see more of the staining.  However, I think this could be cleaned up with some elbow grease and liberal applications of cancer causing chemicals.  Under the seats we see the large aftermarket speakers that were insanely common in cars of this vintage.  Often blaring 2 Live Crew at ground shaking levels, stereo systems in this era caused a lot of problems.  Stereo shops were the tattoo parlors of their day, and they seemed to be on every block in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Often staffed by people who found automotive electrical systems mystifying, installations frequently caused electrical problems ranging from overtaxed alternators to constant questions about burning smells.  I’d check this are over very well, but it probably is OK considering the car hasn’t melted to the ground yet.

So, what we have here is a desirable Mustang, with a desirable engine and a manual transmission.  If it were a notchback coupe, there would already be a traffic jam into this little town and a pro wrestling style battle royale in the guy’s yard.  I just cannot figure out why it is so cheap.  While we don’t know the mileage, it doesn’t appear to have that much wear and tear.  The owner also states that it runs and drives, and that the title status is clean.  Hopefully, one of you can head down there and inspect this little convertible and tell us if it is the deal we all hope it is.


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  1. Joe Haska

    Agree, almost seems too good. However, if you fix the damage at a good shop, $500 won’t make a dent in the repairs, but it still seems like a good deal, but must see in person!

  2. Suttree

    If it drives OK and there’s no real structural damage this could make a good driver as is.
    I think somebody might enjoy this car quite a while and later sell it and let the next buyer decide whether to fix it or not.
    Value may rise enough to justify the cost of repair in the future.
    I’d like to have it if it runs and drives good. A good price IMO.

  3. grant

    Ask for the speakers that doesn’t look too insane those are six by nines and a pretty creative place to install them. A lot better than cutting up side panels or door panels. As to the damage I am rather suspect as to the position of the rear wheel in the wheel well. It looks like it is toed out a little bit. There could be axle and rear end problems with this car. Still might be a good deal if you can fix it, but inspect and purchase carefully.

  4. Motrbob

    One should wonder why the rear windows are up with the top down.

  5. Jeffro

    In the 80’s you were someone if you drove a 5.0 Mustang. Convert might mess up your mullet though. No mention of mileage and that worries me. This car has probably been driven hard and put up wet. But I could be wrong. I agree though, it sounds to good to be true.

  6. ed the welder

    if it runs has a clear title and can pass inspection then it’s a smoking deal for a v8 ragtop regardless of the other issues…

  7. Idiot Boy

    The price is on the low end for 5.0 Mustangs, but this car appears to have been ridden hard and put away wet. Most likely repainted. Definitely re-upholstered with non-stock materials. And it’s dingy. But you could drive it with no regrets and that’s a big plus. Just put a really good alarm on it and a Club for good measure. Both of my 5.0 convertibles were stolen and only one was ever recovered. The subset of thieves who specialize in 5.0s make sure they disappear without a trace.

  8. KevinR

    No way you’re going to fix that for $500 unless you actually happen to personally possess body working skills. Think more like $1500.

    The top needs to be replaced, unless you plan on only using it in clear weather. Figure $500+ for that.

    I notice the seller makes no mention of the miles or any service history. Count on some surprises there.

    Fix everything and you could quickly find yourself spending more than you would on an undamaged specimen. However, if you have the ability to tackle many of these things yourself, it could work out well.

  9. Troy

    Looks like it’s got that little Hurst shifter which so many of us installed, big improvement over the factory unit. Looks okay in these photos, could have plenty of issues we can’t see. I remember when the staging lanes at the local drag strip began to get flooded with 5.0 mustangs, some were scary fast.


    Is it my eyes or is that mold on the console and rear carpet? this thing was prolly rained on and has major water damage. Black mold can kill you and the electrical is more than likely a mess.

  11. Dt 1

    A convertible with a 5-speed for that price pretty good deal

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