Scuderia Mugshots, Part 3: Fox Mustang

1987 Ford Mustang GT
5.0 litre V8, 5 speed manual
Bought 2013

2014 Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance

2014 Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance

The story of the acquisition is here (link). Since then, it has become something of a red headed step child, hated by the Boss (to be expected) and the Fabricator, who couldn’t understand why I had bought such a thoroughly abused example. With recent developments, I have come to wonder that myself.

During 2013, I put about 10,000 miles on it, using it as a commuter and daily driver, street parking and plying up and down Silicon Valley. During this time I saw Whitesnake, who’s biggest album, 1987, came out the same year as the Fox was built. Emerging from the show infused with Stella and hair metal, I drove home with sufficient Dukes of Hazzard vigor that the Boss insisted I apologize to the other couple with us the following day. They had been silent in the backseat – in sheer terror according to the Boss – however when I next saw the guy, he merely said he was “shocked that such crappy old car could go so fast”. Still of the Night indeed.

I am surprised by how different it is from the later SN95 era car – the Bullitt – while the later car is faster, the earlier one has more torque – 300lb/ft from the factory – and that makes it a better freeway companion. I particularly love the federally-mandated 85mph speedo.

Recognizing my own limited mechanical skills, I had cultivated a relationship with a mechanic, such that not only would he do jobs for me, but he would also explain to me what he was doing, and any special techniques involved, meaning I was learning lots from him. Sometime in 2014, the Fox developed an issue where it would die if it had been running on the freeway for sometime, and then had to sit in traffic, or at stop lights. A few minutes later, it would fire up again, so while I was never quite stranded, sitting against the central reservation of a busy freeway with your fingers crossed it will start in a minute is not ideal. The real issue came when the starter motor failed. Because now the scenario was that when it got sulky at not being able to run on an open throttle with lots of cool air, you couldn’t get it started again. It remained mobile the whole time – I live in San Francisco, on a hill, and therefore could bump start it each morning. At this juncture, I gave it to the Mechanic guy, knowing he would really enjoy the car. I later learned that he got stranded on the way home when the traffic had slowed up a little and the fox got up to its usual tricks.

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I should say at this point that although the car has electronic fuel injection, and therefore a central processor- a brain if you will – but neither I or the mechanic guy were able to get the car to respond to any diagnostic tools. “It’s like the car is autistic….” was his comment. Having recently had a baby, the mechanic’s wife threw him out of their home, and they divorced. Meantime – between him doing the brakes on the van, and the brakes on the Boss’ BMW – he had a new girlfriend, and made her pregnant. Aware there were lots of moving parts, I said to him “no problem if you don’t have time for my old banger, just give it me back”. He said no, it was fine, he had time, and enjoyed the work, it was a nice break from the women. At that time, it was languishing under a car port near the condo he was sharing with his girlfriend, with wires puking from the dashboard. I decided to motivate him – this was last Christmas – and met him to give him a little money for the work he had already done. Instead of inviting me to the condo, he asked me to come to an address in a different town. He invited me in, warning me “not to mind what the lady was wearing”, which wasn’t much. Picture me handing him grubby 20 dollar bills in a stranger’s living room while she struts around in her underwear.

But then it became near impossible to get him on the phone. Promises of completion were made and broken. After some weeks of this, I drove by the garage where he worked, and there was the fox sitting outside, with the transmission in the passenger’s seat, and the rear tag missing. Next, he just disappeared altogether. A second drive by showed the car untouched. Upon demanding an explanation, the Boss expressed frustration at the situation, and googled the mechanic by name. The first result was an item on the local TV news about his arrest. Apparently explosives had been discovered at his girlfriends place. They showed her photo – and it was yet another woman, not one of the three mentioned above !!!!!
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When I asked, no one in the garage had a clue who I was talking about, but they were ready to do the work on the car “for $1000”. I wasn’t really in a position to argue – if I didn’t pay them, they would call the county and have the car towed – so they did a shoddy job and I paid, hating them and the car, but pleased it was working again. It lasted the hour drive home, expiring just over the Golden Gate Bridge, you guessed it, when the traffic slowed, and it couldn’t run on an open throttle. I walked the last few miles home, and for a few days, I just left it where it was.

Back home, I moved it around the street with only half an exhaust on it – yep, it would wake the dead – soon finding that not only did it lack power, but the catalyser on one side seemed about ready to obscure the whole of my neighbourhood with stinking white smoke. It started willingly every time, even after weeks sitting, loyal dog that it is. But, the more I looked, the more I saw which needed to be done on it, and the less motivated I felt to do it. Especially since now I think I want to buy the same car, but a clean example. So, into long term storage it goes.
Not sure. Perhaps it gets turned into a Lemons or Chumpcar ?

Ignition/timing (it seems to be on only 4 or 5 cylinders)
All bushing fitting
Hot stalling issue
Plenty I am forgetting