Over the past 5 years the Fox Body Mustang has exploded in popularity, especially with young hot rodders. The funny thing is, most youngsters don’t even know what a Fox Body Mustang is, and I don’t blame them. The Fox Body is a hidden gem in the automotive world, so you better get one before they’re all gone. Before we jump into why you need one, let’s quickly cover what a Fox Body is.
What is a Fox Body Mustang?
A Fox Body Mustang is a Mustang produced anywhere from 1979 to 1993. It doesn’t matter if it’s a coupe, convertible, or a hatch. It also doesn’t matter what engine is has either, or transmission. As long as it’s between the ages of 1979 and 1993, it’s a Fox Body.
Why is it called a “Fox Body”? I know, it’s a really weird name to give to a car. But, it’s called a Fox Body because it’s on the Ford Fox platform. Ford designed the Fox platform as a unibody chassis and used it across a wide range of Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles. Ford’s main objective with the Fox platform was to downsize the massive cars they made in the ’70s.
Why is it called the “Fox” platform? I am unable to find a sure reason why Ford identified this chassis as “Fox”. But, I assume it has something to do with how it downsized their vehicles. Ford’s vehicles went from being big like a cow to small and nimble like a Fox.
Now that you know what a Fox Body is, let’s talk about what makes them so awesome. Also, if you doubt my knowledge or credibility: The Story of my 1991 Fox Body Mustang.
7. ’80s Goodness
Ah, the ’80s, something that the Fox Body represents strongly. No other car can you drive today without previous Fox Body owners striking up conversations about how much fun they had in these cars back in the day. Hell, even my mother had a Fox Body back in the day, although she ended up totaling it. The day I came home in my Fox Body she was dying to take a ride in it. What other cars can bring people from completely different generations together? The only vehicle I can think that brings people together like a Fox Body can is a Jeep.
Fox Body Mustangs also represent vehicle styling from the ’80s and ’90s. The long horizontal tail lights, the factory GT body kit, the simple body lines. Look at a BMW E30 and try to tell me it doesn’t look similar to a Fox Body couple. Even the interior screams the ’80s, which is awesome because back then interiors weren’t cluttered with fancy junk. All you have is a steering wheel, pedals, gear shifter, and a basic radio.
Another great thing about ’80s cars is that you have to drive it yourself. What do I mean by this? Modern Mustangs come equipped with traction control, stability control, line lock for burnouts, and ABS. The Fox Body has none of the above, your right foot is the traction control. If you throttle mid-corner you better know how to control a drift or you’ll end up crashing. If you want to survive driving a Fox Body you’d better learn how to drive really well.
6. Camaro Killer
Back in the ’80s and ’90s there was always stoplight racing between the Camaro and Mustang. However, the Fox Body was almost always faster in a straight line. They both have similar power and torque, but the Fox Body’s low weight give it an advantage on the Camaro. The Fox Body weighs in around 3,000-3,200 lbs depending on the model and body. The 3rd gen Camaro weighs in around 3,300-3,400 lbs. A few hundred pounds might not sound like a huge amount but it’s a huge advantage especially when drag racing.
The Camaro had a more advanced rear suspension and braking system, which makes it stop and handle a little better. But, these are American cars, and most people never take their cars to a road course or Autocross. The Fox Body’s lack of rear pan hard bar holds it back when it comes to autocross and circuit racing. Simply adding a pan hard bar to the rear axle will greatly improve the Fox Body’s handling.
The 3rd gen Camaro LT engine is based entirely off small-block Chevy engines before it. But, the TBI and TPI fuel injection systems aren’t very popular with tuners. For this reason many 3rd gen Camaros are carb/aftermarket EFI swapped. When is comes to the aftermarket I would definitely say the small block Chevy is more popular. But, that’s not to say the small block Ford isn’t popular in the aftermarket.
Both the Fox Body Mustang and the 3rd gen Camaro are unbelievably fun to stoplight race. Even in their stock condition, they’re an absolute riot, but the Fox Body will almost always take the win. 3rd gen Camaros also have this weird stigma. If you drive a 3rd gen everyone thinks that either you’re a hillbilly, or have a mullet.
5. They’re Sexy as Hell!
Whether you love or hate the style of the Fox Body, you’ll probably agree that it’s interesting. But, it doesn’t really resemble Mustangs of the past. Lack of “tri-bar” tail lamps and the wonky front end definitely set it apart from the typically Mustang. The Fox Body definitely has it’s design flaws, for example, the GT’s rear bumper is hideous. The GT’s bumper literally a giant square with a weird lip at the bottom, and the LX’s rear bumper is to short.
Like I said earlier, the Fox Body represents vehicle styling of ’80s automobiles. Many enthusiasts considered cars like the BMW E30 to be one of the best-looking cars to ever be created, and the Fox Body shares much the BMW’s ’80s styling. I think that’s partly why the Fox Body is becoming really popular with the younger generation. Just look at the Fox Body below and try to tell me it’s not a good-looking car. If you decide you need to buy a Fox Body, be sure to read our Fox Body buying guide.
The Fox Body Mustang came in a Fastback, Coupe, and a Convertible. This was the last generation Mustang that was available in a fastback before the 2015 Mustang. In the eyes of the younger generation, the Fox is incredibly good-looking. Like I said above, this is probably due to its ’80s styling and small size compared to new Mustangs. Performance shops such as Saleen put their own twist on the body styling of the Fox Body. Arguably the best-looking body kit for the Fox Body is the Cobra style body kit on the convertible Fox Body seen in the picture above.
Saleen Fox Body
Generally, the Notchback (Coupe) is more desired, mostly because of its rarity, but also because it has cleaner body lines and looks better to most people. The coupe is also about 100 lbs lighter making it much more popular with drag racers. I’ve always personally liked the LX hatchback more, but that’s probably just 17-year-old me remembering all the awesome times I had in my Fox Body.
4. Factory Performance, 300 LB-FT of Awesomeness
By no means is a Fox Body Mustang a sports car, in stock form they’re known for their boat like handling, and tail happy rear end. However, the Fox Body Mustang was the first car Motor Trend ever tested that pulled over 1G on a skidpad, pretty impressive for a muscle car that “can’t turn”. The infamous 5.0L doesn’t make large amounts of power by today’s standards, but it made respectable power back when they were new, putting 225 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque to the ground.
Although 225 horsepower is pretty lackluster in today’s world, 300 lb-ft of torque isn’t. That’s what makes these cars so much fun to drive, the fact that you don’t even have to rev them out to have a great time, they just want to spin the tires at all RPMs.
Luckily, 225 horses is actually a good amount considering the Fox Body weighs in at 3,100 lbs in stock form. With a bit of weight reduction (fiberglass hood, a/c delete, etc.) can achieve a weight of under 2,900 lbs, less than a modern VW Beetle. My personal Fox Body Mustang had a pretty significant amount of weight reduction; gutted interior, A/C delete, aluminum heads, etc, and it could achieve 0-60 in about 5 seconds. That puts it on par with a 2015 Mustang. For specifics visit: Foxbody Wikipedia
My personal 1991 Mustang LX
Check out: Top 5 Must Have Mods For Your Fox Body
With such a light car, you can imagine how fun this car is to drive around. They’re not a role-model when it comes to handling, mostly thanks to their “live axle” rear end, but that’s okay because they’re cornering characteristics are fun, not fast. Like I said above, 300 lb-ft of torque makes the Fox Body want to spin tires at any RPM, and who doesn’t like burnouts?
3. Aftermarket Performance
It’s a Mustang, what do you expect? The aftermarket parts are nearly endless, from engine accessories to suspension components. Factory performance parts are extremely abundant too since the Fox Body Mustang shares many components with Mustangs as new as 2004. This is because SN95 and New Edge Mustangs are on the same Fox platform as the Fox Body Mustang. So, I’m sure you can imagine how many parts are available for the Fox Body.
Ford saw an opportunity to get their foot in the aftermarket, and they created Ford Racing Performance Parts. Ford Racing makes some of the most popular parts for the Fox Body Mustang such as the E303 and B303 camshafts, as well as the GT40-X aluminum cylinder heads. I will say that the Ford Racing engine components aren’t as good as aftermarket companies. The GT40 heads will never flow as well as a true aftermarket set of heads, and the Ford Racing cams are also heavily outdated. However, the Ford Racing components are dirt cheap compared to the normal aftermarket prices for similar parts.
One of the interchangeable parts between the Fox Body and newer Mustangs is the Cobra independent rear suspension, which is a near bolt-on part. The Cobra IRS makes the Fox Body Mustang platform handle like a true sports car, getting rid of all the classic Mustang “wheel hop” that can happen if you hit a bump mid-corner. Other Cobra parts like the steering rack are also easily interchangeable, just imagine all the praise the 03-04 Cobra gets, but in the 3,000 lb Fox Body chassis.
Also Read: Why are Jeeps so Ridiculously Expensive?
There are countless amounts of companies that produce engine components, suspension, and ascetic parts for your Fox Body. One of the biggest and best sources for Fox Body parts is American Muscle, they only sell Mustang parts and really know what they’re doing when it comes to building Mustangs.
2. They’re like Legos
What’s your dream build? Drag car? Drift car? Street cruiser? Well, you can literally do anything you want to a Fox Body. Since Mustangs from 1979 to 2004 are almost identical under the skin. You can plop in a built 302ci or even a larger engines like a 351w and build a drag car. Installing a Cobra IRS (Independent Rear Suspension), some steering changes and you’ll have an awesome drift car. You could build a mild little 302ci and cruise around the streets racing from stoplight to stoplight having a good time. World famous drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. uses a Fox Body for his “Drift Missile”, and he says “The Fox Body is the best-kept secret of drifting”
Maybe you want a canyon carver? You can build a Fox Body Mustang like Matt Farah from The Smoking Tire, with fender flares to fit stupid wide tires at all 4 corners, big brakes from a Cobra, IRS from a Cobra, steering rack from a Cobra, and a bunch of chassis/frame stiffening. All of this combined with a slightly built 302, and you’ve got a stupidly grippy Fox Body that will run down nearly anything in the Canyons.
Want an even crazier Fox Body? Well, shove a Coyote 5.0 or an LS engine in it and you’ll be putting down 400whp+ and you’ll have one stupidly fast, and stupidly reliable Fox Body Mustang. If you’re really a diehard Ford enthusiast you could even put a supercharged 4.6L Terminator motor in it.
No matter what direction you choose to go with your Fox Body, people have already done it, documented it, and are willing to share information on what works and what doesn’t. Plus, with all the parts you can source from the Cobra, you can keep the factory reliability, but make it much faster.
1. It’s a Classic
If it’s older than me, it’s probably a classic…. right? The Fox Body is now wandering into the 25+ year-old range depending on what year you own, which means it’s starting to become a “classic”. When cars start to be considered classics, their prices go up. CNN Money even mentioned the Fox Body Mustang in their “Top Ten Investment Cars under $5,000“. On top of it becoming a classic, it’s also facing a similar issue to the 240sx’s “Drift Tax”. Youngsters getting into hot rods are scooping up Fox Body Mustangs left and right, causing the prices to go up even more.
Seriously, hop on Craigslist and try to find a nice Fox Body for less than $2,000, it’s literally impossible to find a rust free Fox Body that’s been taken care of. On top of youngsters and collectors driving the price up, enthusiast drivers are also picking these up for their next project, and I don’t blame them. 3,000 lbs, endless parts to choose from, and endless directions to go with your build, who wouldn’t want a Fox Body as a project car? Think of it almost like a stock market, if you invest in a Fox Body, it’ll be worth way more 10 years from now. The rising prices are already happening, just 5 years ago they could easily be had for a $2k – $3k, and now decent condition Fox’s are $5k+.
Is a Fox Body Mustang For You?
Ask yourself, have you ever wanted to go do donuts and street racing just for the thrill? Have you ever been jealous of that one old guy in your neighborhood who owns a classic car? Do you love the feeling of a cammed muscle car? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you need to start looking for a Foxbody for yourself.
As a matter of fact, we love the Fox Body so much that we listed it in our “Top 4 Sports Cars for Under $4,000“
When I was 17 I LOVED tuner cars, but then I took a ride in my friends Fox Body, and I fell in love with it so much that I traded my Jeep for a Foxbody a few days later. So, even if you are a die-hard tuner, or maybe you just don’t like Mustangs at all, I promise you from the bottom of my heart, the first time you drive a Foxbody Mustang you’ll fall in love with it.
Overall the Fox Body chassis is extremely good in almost every way. It has that ’80s and ’90s nostalgic feeling, and that awesome ’80s look. With a plethora of ground effects to choose from, it will always look sexy. It hammered Camaros back in the day, and still will today if it has enough modifications.
If you have the money to get a Fox Body, do it today, seriously. It will be the best car you ever bought. Plus if you end up not liking it you could always hold on to it for a few years and double your money. Let me know what you think of Fox Body Mustangs in the comments below!