Radio Delete Stripper: 1988 Ford Mustang LX

Update 4/3/20 – Here’s your second chance! This Mustang has been relisted here on eBay with no reserve.

From 3/29/20 – This 1988 Ford Mustang LX may look completely ordinary from the outside, but it is a rare find. First of all, it is a notchback; secondly, it’s a manual transmission/V8 example; and thirdly, the seller’s uncle is the original owner who ordered the Mustang with minimal options, including a radio delete, and the only accessory is factory A/C. It was removed from the uncle’s barn and power-washed, but otherwise, hasn’t been touched. Find it here on eBay where bidding is over $10,000 with no reserve.

The pictures show a car with decent, but not perfect, paint. Still, it’s pretty solid considering it’s been locked in a barn since 2009. And the bigger deal is that it remains completely stock, with no obvious modifications and a rust-free body. The nose panel will likely need some work, along with the bumper and valence, but that’s hardly the end of the world. Wheels remain the stock LX-trim rollers, and it’s equipped with OEM mudflaps. The headlights have the typical Fox Body yellowing, but those can be easily updated.

The interior is in surprisingly good condition, with the seller noting it as a definite highlight. It’s super basic inside, but therein lies the charm: this is a stripper, pure and simple, with the original owner going out of his way to not add unnecessary luxuries to this classic 90s muscle car. The GT may have gotten the nicely bolstered bucket seats, but the flat-bottomed cloth buckets here are what came standard in the LX (and I’m guessing are a few pounds lighter than the racier GT seats.) The cabin is in remarkably good condition, and the five-speed is obviously the transmission you want to see here.

The back seat looks unused, and while a detailing would definitely spruce it up, you can start using this car as-is once the mechanicals are suitably refreshed. The seller notes it still runs and drives and comes with lots of supporting documentation, including both sets of keys, the original window sticker, title, and warranty card. To me, this is a sleeper of a collector car, with the likelihood of other Fox Bodies equipped so sparsely (that weren’t SSP cars) incredibly low. To find one that has the ideal combo of the 5.0L V8 and manual transmission starts pushing it to unrepeatable status.

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  1. Howard A Member

    Shudder, there’s my car, only mine was an automatic. I’ll spare you the dribble about the heater core, but when I went to sell it, a guy asked if it was a notchback, I said yes, he was there in 15 minutes. Apparently, 20 years ago, they were the car to have for drag racing. I wouldn’t touch another with a 10 foot pole.

  2. Moparman Member

    I could live w/o the radio, perhaps, but I’ve found that cruise control is a MUST for long distances. Long legs and cramped foot wells necessitate this! Never having owned one, the horror stories on heater cores tends to cool my desire for getting one! :-)

  3. jerry z

    Strange I almost ordered the exact same car in 1987 except for red interior. Just wasn’t patient since many people were ordering Mustangs and the wait was unbearable.

  4. Skorzeny

    I know about heater cores in the Taurus, Mustang must be similar. There is no excuse for that kind of BS engineering. Reason why I hated Fords for decades…
    That said, these are just ugly. Fastback only…

  5. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice find, Jeff! I went to order one of these in Fall 1988. I wanted the lightest, fastest stripped-down notchback I could get. With good tires they were as fast as the Corvette in those days. A good launch would get daylight under one tire before you even started with the juicy mods. When we totaled up the special order (3.27s, etc.) the sales guy made me a deal on a loaded hatchback he had on the lot that I couldn’t refuse, and I still have that car today. Truth be told I’m glad I didn’t get the notchback with crank windows, but I still have a soft-spot for these understated lightweights. Thanks for the memories!

    • Moparman Member

      So, Todd; What is the present condition your LX hatchback today? Have you progressed on to paintwork and final details yet?? Inquiring minds want to know!! :-)

      • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

        Hi Moparman. Still driven weekly, though it’s been sidelined twice (head gasket, heater core) so mileage is only 243k. I’ve been trying to get ahead on my project car, a 1972 BMW 2002 tii, learning about mechanical fuel injection, etc. Long-term plans for the Mustang include a 351W swap and something like a ’93 Cobra suspension that’s more compliant and BMW-like. I will share a post when I get to one or more of those milestones. Paint, of course, but for now I’m still sporting the red quarter panel with junk yard markings. Thanks for asking!

  6. Wayne

    Almost all cars are a pain in the rear to change heater cores. Having owned over 25 Fox body Mustangs and Capris. I have only had to replace 2 heater cores. A tech that worked for me taught me the shortcut. And I can change one in about 2 hours. (with A/C, faster without by about 5 minutes) I had a Turbo 4 cylinder (self made from gutting a Turbo Coupe) with no options. It is amazing that you can feel the difference in the weight. If I remember correctly my car weighed 2380 pounds. With 17 pounds of boost it was a “whole lot of fun”!

    • nlpnt

      The saying is that the first station on any auto assembly line is where they hang the heater core from a string, then they build the entire car around it.

      • CJinSD

        In my experience, changing an evaporator core in a modern car makes heater core replacement look like swapping out a headlight bulb.

  7. art

    I would love to know the back story on this car and how the owner decided to order it the way he did. Dealers hate special orders as they pay monthly flooring costs on every vehicle in inventory. My guess, unless this guy was a steady customer over the years, he was offered as good a deal or better on a better equipped Mustang just to get it sold and avoid a special order. Deleting standard equipment probably had more to do with buyer “quirks” than saving money.
    Looking at the delivery date, this car was probably ordered just before the cut off date for the new model change over.
    The car is just an odd duck.

    • CJinSD

      OTOH, this would have been the quickest Mustang. It was lighter and stiffer than either GT body style, and some people bought Mustangs for cheap speed. Radio-delete was far more common in 1988 than you might think, at least in my home-town which also was the domicile of Crutchfield.

      The question is what is it worth now. It might have been ten grand earlier this week, but even that was probably silly money. Technology has not stood still. What kind of ‘sleeper’ can’t beat the top 40% of new cars? You can make it fast by stripping the interior while modifying the engine, transmission, rear axle and rear suspension, but then why not start with a roller instead of a lowish-mileage car in nice original condition that you’re paying for?

  8. SpeedWagon

    I had an 89 notchback, V8 5 speed in RCMP Blue. Lots of memories, the 360 spin on the Coquihalla Highway one winter. Passing a Suburban uphill around a corner in the Rogers Pass. With some weight and real snow tires, it was amazing in the snow and ice. I chose the notchback for price and the 89 because it had no airbags.

  9. Troy s

    Stripped down, no frills, in boring white paint with the strongest engine and best transmission you could get…sounds like a racer in the making to me. No AC would make my assessment correct so I really dont know what to think of it now.
    Tony DeFeo of Cars Illustrated fame had a similar all black hatchback LX back in the day with no AC. Up against Neil VanOrppes modified notch back Tony’s was quicker…with no bolt ons but some odd wheel and tires combos and other tricks. Ran a best in the mid thirteens, don’t remember the exact ET, but it was amazing at the time. So much so that the dudes at Ford told him to quit printing those times,,no way a stock 5.0 could go that quick. Weren’t nice about it either and DeFeo said adios to the magazine editorial stuff for a while. He proved what a potent car it could be, however.
    Trash the AC and make righteous quick quarter miler out of it. It’s just an ugly no frills Mustang as it sits.

  10. Jaydawg7

    Annnd….. sold. (For future reference, the article is 5 hours old)

  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $10,600.

  12. z28th1s

    You would have thought that if he ordered the car as a stripper to be as quick as it could be he would have gotten it with the no cost, optional 3.08 gears.

    You can see on the warranty plate that the car had a M code for the axle which is 2.73’s. The 3.08 geared cars had a Z code for the axle. 3.27’s were optional on the automatics and they were an E code for the axle.

  13. Wayne

    3.27 gears were also available in the SSP package. (Can you say Highway Patrol?) All of the Highway Patrol units that I have seen and driven (and I have driven and seen over and driven over 100) had 3.27 gears on the 5 speed cars and 2.73s on the automatic cars. Back then the AOD transmissions would kick-down into 3rd gear at anything over 1/2 throttle. (not a lot of clutches in the overdrive pack back then) So I am assuming that is why the “highway gears” in those cars. Even though the AOD had a more ecenonomy friendly final drive than the T5s.

    • jwzg

      3.27’s were only available on the automatics. 3.08’s were the steepest available on the stick. This was true for all models. Many of the SSP’s with sticks had 2.73’s as they were a bit easier to launch and had a higher top end. The 3.27’s with the lousy AOD torque converter could accelerate pretty well. Two major issues were that the notchback cars were nightmarish at anything over 120 and the AOD (in stock form) will not perform a full throttle 3-4 upshift.

      • jwzg

        A couple of other notes, the 2.73’s didn’t really even have that much on the top end, because top speed was typically achieved in 3rd gear on the automatics and there wasn’t enough gear to overcome the aero drag in 5th on the stick. 3.08’s were actually a bit better. Top end on my notchback LX, with AOD and 2.73’s stock was around 135, give or take 5 mph, and that’s after backing off the throttle at around 4500 rpm in 3rd gear. For SSP’s add a light bar, spotlight and full load to that and the auto wasn’t really all that impressive. Some mags got 145 out of the ’87 GT, so the hatch, the stick and the 3.08’s were the hot ticket for top end.

  14. Tiberius1701

    I was working at a Suburban NE Ohio Ford dealer from 1984 to 2004 and we sold a crap-ton of these Foxes equipped exactly as this one. I bought one in 2H Medium Cabernet with a grey cloth interior. The car was still very lively with the stock 2.73 gear. It would pull down a consistent 30MPG on the I miss that car.

  15. Al_Bundy Member

    I was 16 years old when this car was new. Back then I had a 1979 Capri with the 302-2V /C-4 which was a pretty quick car at the time, I thought… A friends older brother fresh out of the Army bought a new LX 5.0 5 speed and I was hooked on the Fox body. Picked up a nice scarlet red ’89 LX vert in 1994 which I cherish to this day. So funny how crude it is compared to today’s cars. No air bag, rear drums, no ABS, dated pushrod V-8, lap belts in the back seats. Not much different than late 60’s cars except for rack and pinion steering and EFI. I feel old now !

  16. Wayne

    jwzg, in late 1986 or early 1987 the axle plant had an issue with the machining of the recess for the pinion seal. Hence they leaked between the seal and the housing. We had several Highway Patrol Mustangs that had that issue. Ford sent us (the local dealership) complete axle assemblies to replace the faulty ones. Fortunately for me Ford never asked for the old ones back. (supposed to be scrapped) A little clean up and some Permatex hardening took care of the issue of the leak. So several of my fox bodies ended up with 3L27 s installed. (Including my 3rd to last one that I sold about 8 years ago)
    You are correct however about the instability of the notch backs.

    • jwzg

      Cool story! I found you could either use a repair sleeve or replace the pinion which is just as easy, but dang…Fox 8.8 rear ends from heaven.

      FWIW, I had 3.55’s installed in my AOD notch around 2004, and they give it a little more oomph without being too terrible on gas. Anything steeper and you’re pulling over 2,000 rpm at 70.

  17. Bmac777 Member

    I’ve always wondered what actual performance was gained by the radio delete.
    What does it save ? 12 -15 lbs including speakers and wiring?

  18. 90coupe

    I bought a 1990 stripper notchback in white and red interior and still have it. The local dealer had a connection with Ford and would order a red one and white one ever so often. They called them “bottle rockets”. No options, 5 speed, radio delete and no A/C and 3.08s from the factory. At the time I got it just to save on the additional cost of a loaded LX or GT and loved the subtle look. I did opt for Dealer Installed Air to make it even more odd. The white paint is even single stage, no clear coat. The radio can’t say who much weight was saved, but was a credit on the order form. I was going to install my own aftermarket radio at the time anyway. Keeping in stock in appearance you’d never get a second look from anyone, I’ve had it called a grandma’s car but that’s the best part of it being a sleeper.

  19. Ralph

    $10G’s for a pretty beat up 70K mile 5.0 because of a radio delete plate?

    Sorry no thanks…..

  20. Mike

    Hey on a 90 lx hatchback what would make my car like stutter after first gear which has a automatic..thanks for any info

  21. Chas358 Chasman358 Member

    1991 LX Notch, supercharged 351 Windsor, ported Edelbrock heads, Dodge Viper 6 speed conversion, 3.73 rear gear.
    Factory A/C, and yes it has a radio.

    10.82 @132 MPH

    • Troy s

      Looks like it means business, Chasman, like the idea of the 351 which is something a lot of us wanted Ford to offer back then, as an option for the masses.
      What exhaust do you run in that thing or is it an open header race car? Remove all the AC stuff and use a short belt to remove weight from the front of the car as far as the radio goes the best tunes are coming from the tailpipes, haha.
      Like the ride.

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