Better Buy that Fox Body Now

[By Mr.choppers – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,]
Remember that car everyone wanted in high school? In the 80’s that was a Mustang GT. To that end, the Fox Body Mustang is going to be a collector car.
Kiplinger’s to Forbes will tell you how invest in cars. But look for these traits. What was the cool car for a high schooler 40 years ago? Did it make an impact? A car worth collecting should have heritage. I think it should have been fast or at least fun. Add memories tat most people grew up with, or a pop song you are probably on a solid trail.
Connor MC, a contributor to American and editor of Five Oh Info notes; “They are not nearly as valuable as the original pony cars from the sixties, however they are becoming a more sought after vehicle due to their relatively inexpensive and easily modifiable platform.”

The Fox Body Mustang is not listed on Haggerty’s Blue Chip Index, but NADA lists a 1985 Mustang GT at $2,500 to $6,000. Craigslist can yield a plethora within these prices. Mustangs are near the bottom of the depreciation curve. But interest is picking up. “Fox prices are increasing with every year. A little too much in some cases.” Connor says.
Before Barrett Jackson was live, a Texas musical trio made a musical and cultural impact with “Gimmie All Your Lovin. ”The “Eliminator” punctuated ZZ Top’s success for another decade, put billet wheels so on the scene, there are Billet-proof hot rods shows.  Suddenly Ford Coupes were everywhere. But originally, they were neither rare nor unique, Ford Coupes were mass-produced literally all over the world. But to young men in high school in the 30’s, the V-8 Ford was the one. Then came shoebox Fords, ‘57 Bel Airs followed by early muscle cars. Hemi’s skyrocketed. Early 60’s cars began to rise; followed by the golden-era muscle cars. Swiftly big MOPARS, any GM with a 396, and Shelby Mustangs all commanded absurd prices.
Now 70’s muscle cars are spiking. Think 318 Chargers and the choked big blocks as the golden era began to die. Look at the values of the last outlaws like the 455 Buicks and 6.6 liter Trans Ams.
When Ford introduced the Fox Body Mustang in 1979, it did not take the market by storm. But when the Mustang GT was re-introduced in 1982, the Fox Body was a culture icon and would remain there for the 10 years.
1983 saw a new front end, a rear clip and a ragtop GT. More sinister was the Mustang P Code. Factory-built Mustang pursuit specials. Now Mustangs were simultaneously desired and feared. It was so loved that when it almost went front wheel drive, the backlash resulted in a revised 87 model and the Fox’s life span extended to 1993. Mustangs have heritage, the Fox Body is a part of that. Road & Track declared the 1979 Fox body “has the potential to be the best sporty coupe Ford has ever built.” Even the oft maligned live rear axle maintained the performance tradition of Mustangs.
[By Mr.choppers – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,]
Facing affordable, quick cars from Japan, Foxes became throwaways, an acid-washed denim parody. In the 80’s, 5 liters were everywhere. Sliding down the sales pyramid. Used to “Buy Here Pay Here.” Everyone had a “5-Oh,” then everyone had a broken “5-Oh”. In a few years a Mustang went from a deal closer to a deal breaker.
In 1985 a Mustang GT would hit 60 in under 6.5 seconds, within a second of a 911. The 5.0 made 210 horses, when an 85 Corvette made 230. The BMW 325e made a mere 120. Mazda’s game-changing RX-7 only made 135 in the GSL-SE’s fuel-injected rotary.  
The Fox Body is ingrained into the culture of the 80’s and 90’s. Lionel Richie drove one from San Francisco to LA to prove that “Love will Conquer All”. “The third generation Mustang became a pop culture icon of its own.” says Golson. It was the Mustang to anyone of driving age by 1985. Think of “Little Deuce Coupe” by the Beach Boys, or  “G.T.O.” Ronnie and the Daytonas and finally “Rollin’ In My 5.0” by Vanilla Ice. Vanillia didn’t write that tune to make the Mustang popular, he wrote it because the Mustang was popular.
While these were mass-produced, how many are still around? Combine that with limited-production model like one of the 10,000 plus Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars or 5,000 20th anniversary GT 350 and you have all the right ingredients. Look for an early model like the 1981 Cobra or a TRX equipped GT. SVO production was less 10,000. The 1990 emerald green ragtops number just over 4,000. In 1993; red, yellow or white convertibles were also limited. Focus on the basics like an 86 GT (first multi-point fuel injection) or the last of the carbureted 1985 GTs.
Watch for pitfalls, Connor has written an informative guide “What To Look For When Buying a Fox Body Mustang.” Rust and engine maintenance stand out, but a key element for the Fox Body is the frame. “The factory bracing is inadequate to deal with the power of the 5.0L.” Connor, “To check for this, take a look at the pillars by the windshield and rear quarter windows. Bulges or cracks are a clear sign the frame has shifted.”
A Fox Bodies are collectable. High school students admired and desired them. There are specialty models that can be leveraged.  It had influence and probably saved the Mustang from a FWD fate. As quantities shrink, the Fox is a representation of the Mustang legend. David Muhlbaum, Online Editor at points out “Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll make big money. Think in terms of enjoying an asset that you want to hold its value better than most vehicles.”
So, I am not telling you to  sink your nest egg into a pitiful 5-liter ragtop. But if you are looking to have fun with a neat car, the Fox Body is a solid start. You could get in on the ground floor of a collectable and get your own theme song, even if it is by Vanilla Ice.
Christian “Mental” Ward is a schoolteacher, retired Air Force Officer, frustrated racer, and actually has a Philosophy degree. If he had any money, he would buy this fox body GT and spend his summer performing smokey burnouts and blasting Kickstart My Heart. If you have a bizarre hunger for stupid car pictures, self-promotion, and short videos of his three dogs, follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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11 responses to “Better Buy that Fox Body Now”

  1. CraigSu Avatar

    A friend of mine had always wanted a Fox Body Mustang so he bought a 5-year-old 1989 black GT coupe with bordello red interior. The cowl shake and chassis flex on that car was so bad you could be forgiven for thinking you were riding in a convertible. It certainly cured me of ever wanting a Fox Body.

  2. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    The tough part is finding one that hasn’t been molested and driven to death.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    I missed the chance to buy a Fox body when I was in high school and they were legitimately cheap. Odds are, I’m about 15 years from making a really stupid investment.

    1. james rene toscano Avatar
      james rene toscano

      Getting my 5.0 at 21 years old and 1992 Mustang GT
      with leather interior titanium silver and taking it down the track for the first time at Alamo Dragway and running a 17 sec timeslip at 92 miles an hour I was hooked. Wanting more power up in the timing . And learning how to power shift went straight down to 14 sec . Adding nothing but gears 373 running 13 seconds times. Adding the famous GT40 intake with stock everything and Rain 12 sec I will be a Foxbody Mustang fan all my life. Thank you FORD.

  4. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Seems like a global epidemic. The Ford Capri – the closest we ever got to the Fox Body in the UK – has gone from the value of mixed ferrous scrap metal to serious outlay in just a few years.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      When it comes to classic car purchases (they weren’t classics at the time I guess, just old cars in most peoples eyes) I’m either a genius or an idiot depending on your perspective.
      Bought a Peugeot 205 GTI for €900 – bit crap mechanically, but no bodywork issues apart from a parking dent. Got my local mechanic to put €600 of work into it, would have put more, but my mechanic just said, stop spending, get driving. Passed its roadworthiness cert with flying colours. Two years of absolute joy til electrical issues meant daily driving it became impractical. Now they go for €3000 – €15000
      Bought a Nissan S13 180sx for €5000 (like a 240sx but a late JDM model that was sold alongside the S14 for a while, with the SR20DET engine rather than the CA18DET. confusingly the model name was not changed to reflect the 2 litre capacity) – didn’t get on with it, had over harsh coilovers and attracted too much attention from rural cops. My Dad lost the only key I had for it, sold it to some guy called Martin for €3000 because he wanted the engine and other bits. Turned on the TV a few months later to find Martin happened to be the Irish Drift Champion. S13 prices have risen a bit since.
      Alfa Romeo 75 2 Litre T-Spark (Milano in the US) – not that fast but loved this, a leaking petrol tank and a move to Dublin made it impractical to keep. Paid roughly €1000 for it plus €300 registration fees, gave it away to someone I thought would look after it, he didn’t… They go for thousands rather than hundreds now.
      On the one hand, sold cars that were worth a lot more later, on the other, got to experience them while affordable. Idiot or genius depending on perspective, probably the former.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Many of my friends had seriously beaten Fiesta XR2s that were jagged with rust and basically drove them into the ground. This was only a decade ago. Nowadays, the pangs of nostalgia see that even a basket case can sell for several thousand quid.
        One thing most of the cars we’ve mentioned have in common is that they were lusted after by the young of the time who, today, may have accumulated a bit of cash. Being that nobody under 50 ever cooed over a Rover 825 I assume mine will languish in the Cheap Old Car category for a few decades yet.

        1. crank_case Avatar

          That’s mostly true, but on the Irish car forum I frequent there’s a guy still in college who lusts after the sort of stuff we’d have dismissed as boring. Bog standard Renault 19s, 90s Rovers, Toyota Corollas etc. he’d practically faint at the prospect of an 825. Being old enough to remember when Nirvanas nevermind when it was current, to me a lot of this stuff is forgettable 90s fodder, but to someone of his age it’s #soooooretro

          1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

            That’s true enough. There’s one guy I know over there (or possibly NI) who’s younger than I and already a serial Renault Safrane owner…

  5. neight428 Avatar

    The cheap price and snap oversteer sort of assured their eventual rarity. If you find one that is straight and not rusted out along the lower inside edge of the hatch and doors, buy it.

  6. salguod Avatar

    I was looking at a clean, low mileage, 5 speed, 5.0 “7 up” convertible on Craigslist last week. It was a little pricey at $8K, but the 5 speed in the 7 up package is pretty rare (and cool). No room for another toy, unfortunately.

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