For the last month or two, I've been on the search for a cheap car to get back in to racing after pushing the van to its physical limits. Seems like the trans issue is resolved thanks to the mysterious over capacity issue, but that was a good sign I should find something else.
I started posting links to sub $1,000 vehicles that may or may not be ticking time bombs. Lot of good reception came from you all. In this era of inflated vehicle prices, finding something running WELL at that price range is near impossible. People were selling Civic rollers for $2,500?!?!
I started looking at a higher price range. $3,000-$4,500. This opened up a plethora of new options. Options that include one of my dream vehicles: The Ford Mustang. The Mustang was my absolute favorite vehicle ever since I was young. I would clip every magazine picture I could get my hands on. I'd dig through baskets of Hot Wheels for every model of Mustang they had. I bought books on them, and actually read them!
Finding a Mustang in that price range wasn't going to be easy. For starters, every seller thought they had a 1 of 1 Mustang and wanted more than they deserve. I get it, manual Mustangs are becoming more rare as the days go. But $9,000 for a manual SN95 is atrocious. In addition to that, people's lack of communication is shockingly underwhelming. I think I messaged 12 different Mustang sellers in this journey. 4 of them actually replied, and 3 of them simply stopped replying back after a days worth of actual conversation. Basically, anyone willing to meet and let me check out their vehicle was going to get my money. Luckily for me, the only seller that held a conversation was a catch.
I teased the vehicle Saturday with a mixed reaction. But most of you got the hint.
Say hello to Wendy.*
She's a 1998 Mustang GT. A legitimate GT verified by the VIN. No V8 swapped base model, or anything like that. GT gears, GT transmission, GT rear end, GT suspension. Odometer reads 194,000 miles, but I learned that the odometer hasn't moved in lord knows how long.
Seller was a gearhead with his own shop. Showed me a handful of his toys that included a heavily modified C3 Stingray that sounded like a monster truck. He said I could have it for $25,000. (Sorry, didn't take any photos). He also had a 1966 Mustang Fastback that was all original besides the paint. So I trusted this guy knew what he was doing.
He told me the engine was rebuilt 50k miles ago and done by a local shop that he did not disclose. The only modification he says was done was the heads were ported during the rebuild. But I did catch a few other signs. For example, I read the factory intake manifold on GTs were basically all plastic. A common issue is the manifold cracking near the thermostat leading to a coolant leak. A common fix is to replace the manifold with an upgraded manifold with an aluminum crossover. I saw the aluminum crossover and started to get excited.
The manifold on the right is off a 2001+ Mustang, but it depicts the crossover I'm describing.
The body is in amazing shape for the age. I checked out all the warning signs you all suggested in my previous posts. I couldn't find a bit of frame or body rust on this car sans a few small dime sized spots here and there. The paint could use a refresh, but that's the last of my worries now. The interior is all intact. Car was kept clean and nothing smells. The seat's are a little worn, but what seat isn't worn on a 24 year old car? AC and heat both work, and the aftermarket head unit looks properly installed. Speakers could use an upgrade, but that's not a top priority.
Now, it isn't perfect by any means. Let's hit that right now.
-Definitely a squeaky pulley or belt in the front. My guess is a belt based off the frequency of the noise. Easy diagnosis, easy fix.
-Steering wheel is a bit off when driving straight. So an alignment is due.
-A faint ringing is coming from the rear end only under acceleration. I'll need to take a closer look at that this week. Could either be something small, or massive. Luckily, I paid a lot less than I anticipated so I have room for repairs.
-Minor dings and dents here and there. This doesn't bother me at all, since I'd be racing it on and off pavement.
As for any clear modifications, the front clip came from an SVT of the same era. I don't hate it at all. Missing the fog lights, but that's alright. Clip was obviously painted while on the vehicle, There's a little bit of overspray on the headlights. Brake calipers are painted red but stock, but drilled and slotted rotors were installed. Enkei 18" wheels with about 50% life Nitto tired were put on. I wish the wheels were factory, but I can find those later. I can keep the Enkeis for either track or RallyX tires, but a Mustang needs Torque Thrust wheels (authentic or not). These wheels and tires are not staggered, which honestly is cool with me.
Besides for what was mentioned above, everything works as it should. Starts, drives, brakes, turns, doesn't leak, electrically sound. I could clean it up, fix the rear end issue, get rid of the squeak, get an alignment, and probably sell this for nearly double I paid. OK maybe not double, but definitely a profit. The initial listing was for $5,000. By the time I came across the listing (3 weeks later), it was down to $3,500. After negotiations, I talked him down to $2,800.
I took this to a very empty back road where I do all my road testing after working on them (brake jobs, etc). I took a hard pull and spun the tires through first gear. This thing rocks
So thank you all for your inputs on my terrible decisions. I was one text message away from driving up to Ann Arbor to look at what I realized was a terrible 351W swapped Mustang. My spamming of listings will be reduced now. Sorry for the last month of posting crap vehicles!
*Wendy was chosen because it's a hot n juicy red head. But I am open to other names.
PS: open to vanity plate ideas as well!