Road Legal! Todd’s One-Owner 232k 1989 Ford Mustang LX 5.0

Every year fewer and fewer Fox-body Mustangs prowl the world’s roadways. Keeping this car forever never entered my mind on 17 November 1988 when I bought it — the only new car I’ve ever bought myself, and the most money I ever spent on a car. It’s looked better, and it will likely look better in the future, but I’m featuring it today after getting a current inspection sticker for the first time since being rudely rear-ended on 20 December, 2012. I had accumulated over 230,000 miles with minimal blemishes (1 pheasant, 1 dog, 1 icy spin-out), then my luck ran out as I waited, motionless, at a red light.

Insurance called it a total loss, no doubt because the rear quarter-panel, tail-panel, and part of the trunk floor were all mangled. Good news, though! I bought it back for $414, and they still gave me about $1000 more than I needed to buy a replacement if I’d gone that route.

For less than the cost of a reproduction quarter panel I purchased exactly one-quarter of a ’93 Mustang, and garnered a boat-load of Man Points driving around with it on my trailer.

After drilling out about 180 spot welds each on my car and the donor car, I created a pile of scrap and a cutaway version for anyone curious about what a Fox Mustang looks like under the skin. Like Dr. Frankenstein I crudely stitched donated parts onto the corpse of my trusty steed so it could once again be whole.

Thanks to eBay, LMR, and hundreds of hours of labor, the old girl is road-legal again. My motor-head friends insist I drive it with the red panels for a while — more Man Points. Eagle-eyed readers might notice the wider-than-normal rear track, courtesy of the ’93 Cobra rear axle (rear discs and 3.73 gears) installed around the new millennium. Other deviations from stock include Cobra wheels, the red body parts, and rear springs. Otherwise it’s nearly all original equipment including the remainder of the suspension, all glass, engine, clutch, and interior. Future plans include a black respray, and eventually more… but enough for one day. Almost every gear-head has a story about a Fox Mustang. What’s yours?

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Comments

  1. KSwheatfarmer Member

    Todd, your story checks all the right boxes for me. One owner, high mileage, back from the dead is so unusual in today’s throw away world.Keep it forever and pass it down to kids someday. Plus, it is distinctive and sporty, qualities so lacking on the road today. Cars today are much better than they used to be as far as reliability, gas milage, safety, etc., but so lacking in character and style. I drive down the interstate and all I see is Maytags, Kenmores, and Kitchen Aids.I spotted a mid 90’s T-bird yesterday in a parking lot. It stuck out like a sore thumb only in a good way. Congrats on your accomplishment.

    • Bruce

      Ditto. I couldn’t have said it any better!

  2. jw454

    Todd,

    Congratulation on keeping your car on the road. The body lines and gaps look good. Once you paint it it will look like it did way back when.

    1
    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Thanks, jw454! I measured and checked about 80 different points when I had it tacked before I started serious welding. The donor car’s belt trim was a little lower than mine but the metal lines up. I did lead the C-pillar and it will need some finish work before paint. I’m sure I took about four times as long as a professional would have, but I’m OK with that. Thanks again!

  3. Fred w.

    Only one thing left to do- make arrangements to be buried in it like this guy!

  4. Jay

    My first fox was and 88 I owned at 20 years old. College life came and i had to part with her…missed it since it left my driveway that late summer day. Fast forward to today, my new love is my 1987 GT Ttop. If I have it my way, this one will be with me.forever . Lately been restoring a lot of the interior. As you said and the poster above…you do not see these very often out on the road…and when you do, it’s always a double take. They are becoming less and less. I’m in the Midwest, and most of the ones that were roaming the roads back in the late 80’s and early 90’s are now rusting in the boneyards, thanks to the winter season. Mine has original paint, no rust and very lightly modified (intake, exhaust, rear gears, subframe connectors). Isn’t anything I enjoy more than tinkering on it in the garage in the winter and driving it in the spring, summer and early fall…it’s a lot of fun and worth every penny. LMR is a great place to restore your pony, been there a lot. I’ve got my eyes on the new ones, I love the way they look. But I am not discounting this 87 fox I own now…I love it!

  5. Joe

    Owned a 92 ex Florida Highway Patrol SSP. I loved that car, but it didn’t like snow that much when I moved to Massachusetts. Constantly got pulled over by local PD and questioned about it. Wish I still had it.

    • stephen paulus

      Joe: My 89 GT convertible with limited slip does ok in MA winters. Fun story I was following a Mercedes coupe home in a snow storm years ago when the Merc driver lost it and did a 180 in front of me rounding a corner. I did wave as I motored on by. That memory still makes me smile.

  6. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    That’s a heck of a project, Todd! I have never done anything that extensive, that’s impressive; nice work!

  7. Todd Zuercher

    Congrats on keeping this beauty going. Nice job on the bodywork and +10 on the rear axle swap. Always good to see rear discs on a Fox.

  8. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Thanks everyone! It’s no priceless jewel but sometimes I look at well-preserved cars with 50,000 miles and I think “How unfortunate – that owner has only enjoyed his car one-quarter the amount that I have.”

  9. Andrew not amember

    Tremendous sir , it is easy to say oh well and let it go.I think it shows great skill and character .

  10. Wayne

    I have an ’87 5.0 LX Hatch and an ’86 SVO parts car. I have had so many Fox body Mustangs and Capris. That I don’t know the actual count. I will probably always have at least one. The nice thing about being in Nevada. We don’t have the rust issues. But the interiors get absolutely toasted from the sun.
    Keep the old girl going Todd,

    • John Ford

      Nice story Todd,good work.Im a proud owner of an 86 Mustang t-tops manual.All original with 64.000 original miles.She got me through 3 Cleveland winters and a polar vortex.She’s garage kept now and will never see the elements again.I plan on doing a full resto soon.

  11. Justin Rhoads

    Man what a story i recently purchased a fox and have loved them since I was young. I’m still what some of you might call young I was born in 91 also the same year my foxbody happens to be :) I can only hope to enjoy mine as much as you have yours. As far as people who don’t put miles on their car and enjoy them while not a fan your story only gives them more reason. Also I have a question did you ever imagine foxes being this popular and worth this much?

    • John Ford

      No,crazy thing is I used to be a Chevy guy.my first car was 72 chevelle SS.Second was an 86 Camaro with an LT1 motor in.Its important depending on the Year is to try and keep these mustangs as original as possible.I know any modifications done to these cars will decrease the value of them down the road.For some people it could be a challenge.For me,I’m not interested in having a track car.She”s plenty quick for me 🙂

  12. David

    Congratulations Todd on doing the repairs yourself that is a pretty big task I know as I own a auto BodyShop for 29 years and have done everything from collision to restorations I am also a Mustang guy as I own a 1970 Mach1 and a 1990 GT and a 2013 Boss 302 oh and a 2003 Cobra race car but I love my 1990 it’s been with us since 1990 and still got it.

  13. Steve

    Good job on the repairs, and kudo’s for keeping her on the road. Love the 89 LX 5.0, high water mark for the fox era.

    1989 Mustang LX 5.0 dark shadow blue 5 speed.

    • Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

      Thanks, Steve! Every year has good and bad points but I do like the ’89 because it’s the first year of Mass Air and the last year of the pre-air-bag steering wheel. I might have ordered a blue LX but they made me “an offer I couldn’t refuse” on this black one from the lot. One oddity for a Pennsylvania car — no rear defrost.

      • Todd Zuercher

        Same reason I like the 89s too. Also the last year for the good seats.

      • Steve

        You are so right Todd, love my “flops”

  14. Tom Member

    Don’t know if it was mentioned above…..but thanks for not passing it off as a 32K original mile story !!!!

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