It may be difficult to fathom but the Fox body Mustang is fairly long in the tooth. The Fox body today is older than the first-gen Mustang was when the Fox body was in its heyday in the mid 1980s. While those of us who grew up with this car as the “new” Mustang don’t care to admit it, the last Fox built is old enough to buy itself a drink. With that in mind, Fox body restoration, has become an ever increasing market. “We’re getting more interest in Fox body restoration parts every year,” says CJ Pony Parts’ Bill Tumas.
While it has spent its life in SoCal, this Fox was showing signs 0f age, time for some upgrades and minor restoration projects.
Unless it’s been sitting in climate controlled storage for the better part of three decades, most Fox body Mustangs are in need of some TLC. In the case of the 1992 coupe we’re working on there are a little over a dozen pieces that could stand updating after the car received a fresh paint job and new hood recently. For help getting those pieces and restoring this car’s appearance we turned to CJ Pony Parts. We also chatted with CJ’s Bill Tumas, the star of the company’s video series, and an all around Mustang expert, Tumas had some great insight into restoration projects.
This 1992 Fox has just recently received a fresh coat of paint following a minor incident with a guard rail. Given that its skin has been returned to its former glory with this treatment, it seemed fitting that the car get a few other updates to help it regain most of its former glory.
Making That Stang Foxy Again
With the fresh coat sanded, buffed, and shining better than new, it was time to handle updating the rest of the exterior. We’ve included a complete list of parts in the sidebar here, but what we really wanted to focus on this time was tips for restoring the appearance of your Fox body.
Tumas says one of the most popular products for nearly every year Mustang is weatherstripping. Time, and exposure to the elements, takes a toll on all of a vehicle's weatherstripping. Replacing it is simple, and most enthusiasts can do an entire car in a couple of hours.
Another good area to look at, is the car a daily driver? How long can you be without it on the road. -Bill Tumas, CJ Pony Parts
The largest component of restoration is the evaluation. If you’ve owned your car long enough, you are likely familiar with every curve, small dent, scratch, and blemish in it. Continued exposure to our car’s spots, can often lead to our ignoring many of them. Take a few steps back and evaluate your car before you start ordering parts. Record your findings on paper.
Look at each area of the car separately. Use different times of day, and different settings. Some blemishes show up better under different types of light, so don’t just stand and look at it in your own garage or driveway, go somewhere.
“Another good area to look at, is the car a daily driver? How long can you be without it on the road,” says Tumas. This is an important part of the evaluation process, how long will the projects your listing take to complete?
Often overlooked, these hood to fender bumpers, part number HW1004, will keep the hood from rattling, or rubbing the fenders, as well as help maintain proper hood height.
This goes along with the evaluation. Sometimes things become clear when they’re presented differently. Shoot some high quality photos with a good camera. Get close up shots of what you consider to be trouble spots. Take a photo of each piece of trim, each light, every molding, or other component. Then put those on a computer or tablet where you can zoom, and view them individually. You may be surprised what you find.
Get A Second Opinion
The adjustable hood bumpers take a beating every time you open and close the hood, and they’re also often frozen in place by years of sitting at the same height. This is another quick and easy part to replace, part number HW1003.
If you’re into the car hobby the you likely have friends or even family who are as crazy about cars as you are. Ask a fellow enthusiast, who’s opinion you value, to take a look at your car and make their own list. Compare notes, and discuss their findings verses your own. Make sure this person has no personal emotional investment in the car that would impact what they see.
Set A Budget
Although we’d all like to build the next big thing in the Mustang scene, chances are few of us can afford to construct a six-figure show stopping stunner. Set a budget and prioritize what you can repair now that will make the biggest impact on the car’s functionality or appearance. Decide what you’ll put on hold for later, and what could possibly be skipped if absolutely necessary.
Left and Center: New exterior mirrors, part numbers ME11L and ME11 R, not only replace worn, broken, and faded parts, but can add a lot to the appearance of the side of the car.
Whether you’re just starting out your project, or you’re in the late stages of it come up with a plan for your restoration. Write it down, otherwise it’s not a plan, it’s just a list of ideas in your head.
Organize the steps you need to take for this type of project into a logical order. On a Fox body, or older Mustang you probably don’t want to replace windshield moldings prior to replacing any glass that needs to come out. Likewise, installing new headlights probably wouldn’t make sense before a new header panel.
Function Over Form
While the majority of us want our Mustangs to look good, there’s nothing worse than dysfunctional or broken parts. Door handles that are broken, lights that fail to illuminate, or parts that won’t stay in place because a corresponding piece is also missing are often more important than looking good.
Prioritize, get things functional first. Don’t be the guy who leaves the local car show or cruise early because his headlights no longer cast enough light to see at night. Slick paint is great, but if you need to have the windows down all the time because the outside door handles are broken, that’s just not cool. “If you’re buying new wheels don’t be the guy driving around on bald tires.”
“This is a good time to research upgrades as well. For example, often things like an upgraded alternator are the same price, or just a couple dollars more than a stock replacement. The same goes for carpet, and other parts. Upgrading the car while its already down, especially if the price is about the same, is always a good idea,” Tumas adds.
Another hugely popular part for Fox body Mustangs is this replacement cowl vent grille, part number CC3.
Don’t skimp on quality. There are a lot of cheaply made knock-off parts out there today. The internet makes it easier than ever for cheap-skates and counterfeiters to sell unsuspecting buyers junk at pennies on the dollar of what the genuine article costs.
If you’re going this far to restore the appearance of your car, spend the time to find quality parts, from a reputable retailer. This is why we deal with companies like CJ Pony Parts on this type of project, we know the parts we’re getting and can count on the people who back them up.
New drip rail molding, part number DRM7P and windshield moldings, part number WMT5, for the front and rear replace the faded and often damaged original parts. New clips are also available for the font and rear windshields to keep the moldings secure.
DIY or Professional
We’re getting more interest in Fox body restoration parts every year. -Bll Tumas
Almost every enthusiast wants to be a DIY hero in the garage. Some projects we need to be honest about. If you’ve never attempted a specific project, spend some time on researching it. If you’re still not confident you can complete the task, either because of your skill level, or because you don’t have the proper tools, get a professional involved. “We make videos to show our customers how easy something is, but sometimes we also make videos to demonstrate how complex a job can be, and that not everyone can do this particular install or upgrade.” Sometimes shelling out the cash is cheaper in the long run, especially if the project involves potentially damaging a fresh paint job.
Door handles take a beating, and the Fox body was notorious for them breaking. Replacing them with part number EDH4P, adds function and restores the appearance of the car.
Honesty is the best policy. Be honest about the condition of the car you’re working on and what parts it needs to reach your goals. Be realistic with your budget, time table, and capabilities in getting it all done. “If you read, or someone told you it only takes ‘x’ amount of time, plan to at least double that, especially if its your first time doing this particular project,” says Tumas.
Take Your Time
Whether you’re a pro at building Mustangs, or this is your first time, work at a consistent pace. If you’re entering into new territory personally, use caution, and do research. Researching your project, or issue on how to do it the right way will save you time, frustration and in the end money and broken parts. Taking your time to do these things will help as well.
This Fox, can now consider its exterior restored.
Along with this comes an understanding that things take more time than you originally planned. There’s an old adage about you can eat an elephant if you do it one bite at a time. The same holds true with restoration projects.
Whether you’re just freshening a Fox body, or taking on a ground up restoration style project, these tips should help as you begin and go along the way. While its hard for some of us to talk about restoring Fox body Mustangs, the fact is that these cars may be the next big thing in the Mustang restoration market.