A lot has changed in the past few decades when it comes to the Foxbody Mustang market. Some blame Barrett-Jackson and other large enthusiasts such as Dennis Collins (@thedenniscollins) for inflating the cost of these cars. Regardless the same principles exist for Foxbody cars as does any vehicle purchase and that is, a car is worth what someone is willing to pay. It’s also hard to believe that these cars have now been around for up to 40 years since their introduction in 1979.
If you happen to have a fox that is desirable such as a specialty car (see my list below or even now a clean coupe (notchback) then supply and demand is the name of the game. I am not going to in through the “ins and outs” of buying a used car but rather share with you what I believe are the most important things to look for when looking to buy a Foxbody in 2020 (yep, up to 40 years later).
- Do you want Modified or Stock? The most important question off the top is you need to know what you want! Do you want something you can mod and enjoy driving it, a trailer queen or a time capsule? This is probably the most important question before starting your search! Weekend cruiser or drag racer? Plenty of chopped up drag Cars out there so please don’t chop up a clean body and strip it down to try and make a race car. You can easily find another body or shell that has been maybe repaired, not in the best of shape to beat the sh*t out of at the track.
- Looking for a Rare Foxbody? If you are in this category then you already know what you’re looking for. How about a 93 convertible feature car, Saleen, DECH, ASC Maclaren, 1993 Cobra or 1979 pace car? There are a number of rare Foxbodies that low numbers were produced over the years. Perhaps that rare Mexican Foxbody, 4-eye T-Top or 1980 Cobra? There are many out there and if one of these cars is your target market then you’re probably willing to go above and beyond the following list and pay for what you want! Just depends if you’re looking for a low-mile original or perhaps a restoration project in which you may want to put a few of your own touches on since you’re saving a Fox!
- Paint! So when buying a Foxbody in 2020 my personal opinion is that paint is the most important part in your search for a Foxbody Mustang. Not having to repaint a car will save you $10k on it’s own if you’re looking for a show stopper. This might be argued by some but once you get into color changes, molding replacement etc just watch how fast the costs add up. Mods and motors are cheaper than a clean body! If you do find the perfect car but it’s not the color you are looking for then black is always the best color to buy for your color change. People always worry about modifications and how fast they want to make their Foxbody and unfortunately the cosmetics sometimes take a rain check which should not be the case. Anyone can install mods and a big motor for a fairly affordable price these days. Power adders are extremely affordable and not with Coyote swaps happening daily, you have options for big power on a budget. This means your Paint & Body could very well be the largest expense if you don’t start with a clean base! If the Fox you’re looking at has been repainted then make sure you check the quality of the work carefully and don’t end up buying something that is hiding a bunch of skeletons which brings me to my next point,
- Numbers Matching & Documentation… the more you know and the more of a story you can tell the more the car will be worth to sell later down the road and the more the car is worth. I am a huge documentation guy and make sure that I can always get as much information about a car before buying it and likewise keep all of the information I can during ownership. If you can find a car with original paint or one where the VIN stickers have not been painted over you’re ahead of the game. Numbers matching counts at the end of the day and if you can show someone that you have original panels everywhere then you have peace of mind that the car wasn’t wrecked at some point. Note that if you are going to re-paint the car you buy, mask off these stickers! There is one on each and every panel from factory. (Hood, Fenders, Doors, Rear Quarters, Bumper Covers)
- Reverse-able modifications! I suggest doing only modifications or buying a car that has mods in which you can reverse. Not everyone may want what you’ve done and quite honestly highly modified vehicles unless done in a completely timeless manner will depreciate faster especially once new trends come in. There have already been a few different style of trends in the 40 years that Foxbodies have been out, from crazy colors, to big wheel setup’s and now to plain and stock looking. With that said, this is your opportunity to buy a Foxbody with the modifications that you want for MUCH LESS then it would cost for you to do them all yourself. This links back to point number 4 – documentation! You want to make sure that the Foxbody you’re buying has documentation and proof or reliability and quality work so that you’re not buying someone else’s problems. You may have heard the term “My loss is your gain” – use it to your advantage for the right car! In these cases your budget may allow for some additional other modifications instead of having forked out for them for the cost of “new”. This leads directly into my next point,
- Patience! Never buy your car or your mods “on demand” as your emotions will control your wallet and you’ll end up paying more for maybe something you weren’t exactly looking for. There may be fewer of these cars out there than there were 10 or even 20 years ago but there are still many to go around. This not only goes for buying the car but for buying your potential modifications as well! Wait for those new product sales, wait for people in financial trouble, cruise your local Craiglists, Marketplace and Forums for a good deal on something. It all comes down to your budget but it is important to always keep in your mind that although good deals do exist sometimes, generally speaking -“you get what you pay for”. If someone is desperate to unload something, do your homework, look for documentation and if they are giving you short and unfinished answers, move on! Foxbody owners generally know what they have these days and sometimes are “dreaming” as well in terms of “worth” for what they have. So be prepared to walk and you can always check back in with them later. I have literally gone back and forth with sellers for months until they came to a “realistic” figure after they notice they are not selling their car. Lots of time too, the best deals are the cars that are NOT listed for sale! -See something you like in a driveway, knock on the door and see if you can intrigue a sale!
- Year ranges – This is more personal opinion but for those curious on which year ranges are best to look for in the Foxbody scene, well it all depends! 1979-1986 vs 1987-1989 vs 1990-1993. People may have a different point of they however I believe the most valuable year range is 1990-1993. Not just because of mass air (as it was introduced in California Cars as early as 88 models) rather because 1990 is an anniversary year (so does 89) but the clusters had nicer trim, heater controls updated, air bag wheel and probably most importantly, black interiors. Other notable reasons are that the fenders got a bit more wheels clearance in 1991 for Pony wheels and convertible tops went down 6″ lower than all previous years for a more sleek look. For the above reasons and the fact it was the most updated version of the Foxbody and starting off the 1990’s they are the most valuable in my opinion. Working backwards the 1987-1989 models would come second as they did have Aero front noses and upgraded taillights with the GT’s having a great looking body kit for the years. Fuel injection although introduced in 1986 these cars made more horsepower. Now going into 4 eyed cars, there is lots of variation here throughout the years and I will not go into all the details other than stating that 1982 is my favorite year simply because of it’s 1 year only front bumper cover! But these cars just don’t have the “look” that the later years do and they operate on carburetted motors (exception to 1986) which although I respect, the motors did not make good power and pre- 1983 cars only had a 4 speed manual option vs a 5 speed in later years. These are still super cool cars but for me, take a lot of work to look good and are much harder to find in a salvageable state as they are older. With that said, they can make an amazing restoration project.
- The devil is in the details… little things such as trim, detailing, good paint, timeless mods are all things to consider when buying a Foxbody. Little items add up and if you’re looking for a perfect car you want to make sure that you consider all of the details involved when buying that dream Foxbody. Between paint and an interior change over to black you could be in for big money, so it’s best to find the right “base” to build off of. Clean under body free of rust is also a huge deal! Rust is like cancer and will kill your car if not treated properly. Lots of people look for Florida cars which you need to be careful there as well as sea-salt from the air can make it’s way into places you’d never think that didn’t have paint coverage from factory (like in the door hinge areas). Trim and other details can be done via DIY and in most cases can make an $8000 car look like a $10,000 car if done properly. Just cleaning up moldings, faded mirrors and buffing paint can go a long way!
So this is not a list of 10 things as there is really no need to dig further. I have owned more of these cars than I can count and still currently own 5 and will surely own dozens more in my lifetime. My opinions may not be the same as everyone else’s but I think a lot of the information is transferable when considering to buy a Foxbody in this day and age. I hope these tips were informative for you and help you find that Foxbody you’re looking for. Good Luck!