Back to the Future-Ron and Sydney's 1985 5L Mustang Build

Ron Earp

And brakes have been happening. running brake lines, new calipers, new master, etc are covered in previous posts but suffice to say that takes a lot of time. Then dealing with the inevitable leak, remaking a line, and so on. But, as of now the hydraulics are all up and working.

Rear underside line with Cobra rear splitters.

And brake bias valve for the rear. I suspect she'll be the only girl around with one of these on her car.

The parking brake was a pain in the ass. What I ended up doing is getting some cheap $30 for the pair 87-93 parking brake cables and cutting them up and resizing them for this fox body.


I'd start by cutting the end off that connects to the parking brake handle tee. Then pull the cable out of the sheath. After that remove the metal piece there on the end of the sheath by cutting it off then using pliers to unwind the sheath thereby providing a sheath. The sheath gets cut down to fit the fox, the end is crimped back on using my huge crimp tool, then the cable is run back through the sheath. New fittings for the ends from McMaster are crimped on and done - $30 cables that fit great. Done.


Routing of cable using leftover SN95 parts.

And once all that was down the nice ally driveshaft got bolted up.

Howard Jones

When you get to it, please got to some depth on the FI system setup and tune. I have been looking at the various systems and there seams to be a huge variation in experience and results setting them up.

By the way I would give my right arm if I could get my daughter to do that. Good daddying!!!!!!!

Ron Earp

And a few cosmetic type things were done. The LX didn't originally have fog lights and I always wished it did back in the day. Fast forward and it's now wearing a GT nose, by chance actually since that was the only good one I turned up on Craigslist, and now I can put fog lights on it for that restomod look. I went through my cache of Marchal stuff I picked up on Ebay and selected a couple of good ones for the car.


Remember these? All the rage in the 80s.


And since the car is an LX it had no light bar. Quick bit of searching turned one up that was painted to suit.



And it fits as expected.

Meanwhile, since we're messing around in the general area time for a radiator and condenser installation. All new parts here of course. The condenser came with the LMS R134a conversion that has a new evaporator, compressor, lines, and drier.


Radiator is an ally three core unit that fits in the stock location. We'll be mounting an electric fan on it so it'll be coming back out soon. So, a bit of TIG will be happening to put some mounting tabs on the radiator for proper fitment. I'm planning to us a 96 and up Mustang electric fan as I have a few of those in the parts pile.


Ron Earp

We also got the fuel tank installed. Jeff G and I did all this work as Syd was MIA. My first plan was to install a 1998+ tank. It checks all the right boxes: we know it well and have them in the parts pile and they have a good center mounted sump. But after we brought one down we found out it won't fit in the early foxes. Not enough clearance and the fuel filler neck would have to be custom made. So, plan two, a fox tank with fuel injection. A new tank was ordered, which are really inexpensive, and parts added.



And with a hell of a lot of struggling the tank is in place. It did not want to go into place at first and we were about 4" shy of making the straps mate up. So, we used longer bolts to get the straps in place, lots of tank wigglging, and we finally got the straps pulled to the shape they needed to be in and everything in place. Eventually the stock bolts could be used. I think what happened is the tank straps got bent out of shape pretty badly and that slight amount of bend has negative influences on initial fit.



Ron Earp

I took on the task of rebuilding the air cleaner. It was a pretty nasty mess of old paint where someone had painted the aluminum top black along with the entire housing. I want to keep that carb look and I always liked the factory housing with the 5.0L HO label and twin snorkel inlets. It looked the business back in the day.

Restore in progress and I'll get the final pics up when I finish it up.

Here is the lid after a lot of paint remover and scrubbing.


And the housing after a lot of cleaner and some scrubbing. With much more to go.


And one of the snorkels undergoing some work.


Meanwhile Sydney is out of school and I gave her the task of nutting and bolting the entire rear half of the car from the tranny back. It was a good learning experience. As we all know, it takes many years of experience to be able to choose the right sockets, wrenches, extensions, and so on to access a particular bolt. Since she doesn't have that experience the N&B job took her quite a long time. I had to performing the tasks on her own and marking all the fasteners with silver sharpie for verification. She struggled a lot with the job and was NOT amused when after an hour I showed her the air rachet and how it could be used to knock out some of the crimped nuts that appear on some suspension bits.


Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Loved the double-snorkle air cleaners myself! Good job in rescuing it.
Sydney is a hard working lady and sure to appreciate this car much more than anything you could have just bought her..
Great update and the Mustang is looking really good!!!

Ron Earp

Alrighty back from vacation and some things have been happening on Project Fox.

We finally got the exhaust mounted up and it wasn't as easy as you might expect. On the race cars we do a dump into a race muffler on the car. Street car with duals? Man, space is tight back there and I never really realized it since one of the first things we do prepping one of the road race cars is stripping off all the exhaust, axles, etc. to fab up the suspension, cell, etc. And it never goes back on. Anyhow, the "best" stock appearing system I could find was the Flowmaster setup as I'm wanting it to be quiet. I'm sure it won't be quiet unfortunately which means I'll be back into this project once it is rolling. Pipes look good though!



And the tail lights were rebuilt and finally installed. Got those twin pipes under the bumper, gotta like it.

The light bar was installed along with the fog lights. I think they look great on the LX even though it didn't come from the factory with the integrated fogs. I know I always wanted them on the car though back in the 80s and now they are in place.



Got all the AC lines installed and setup too but one of the lines had a kink in it. Boo. And it won't come out.




And last I chucked the air cleaner up in the drill as other have suggested to try and get that machine polish like it had from the factory. This one has a lot of pitting though so can't get that out, but otherwise it looks good with the newly applied decal.


And the engine complete with all lines run for fuel etc.


We've been working on wiring for a couple of days and I'll get pictures of that up soon. We're harvesting connectors from the stock harness to work with the Ron Francis kit. Slow going, but I think we'll end up with a great harness that will be reliable, clean, and tidy.

Ron Earp

Wiring is happening and it's a large part of the project. I'll get some pictures up soon. I suspect wiring is going to be what's up for a couple of weeks.

Ron Earp

A lot has been happening but it seems like progress is SLOW. And Sydney's birthday is a little more than a week away. It's clear we won't make it with a running car for her birthday, especially since we're headed to Charleston for a vacation and eclipse viewing.

First up are wheels. It's time for the car to leave the lift so that we can work on the interior and wiring. Needs wheels to do that so I bolted on a set of the Chump Cobra knockoffs which have the same common offset and backspacing as most all 17" factory Ford wheels (~5.95" backspace, 24mm offset). The problem is that on the front, with the SN95 LCA, the wheel sticks out about 1/2" outside the fender. A lot of camber can barely tuck it up under the fender.



So, either I use some asymmetric wheels (rear fits fit with normal wheels) or I go back to a fox arm. I'm going with the fox arm, which means we have to fab up a new pair of arms with weight jackers and press the bushings I want to use into the arms. At least we'll have a spare set of LCAs for the SN95 race cars. I've already sand blasted the fox arms and we've taken the existing suspension off the car.



How long as it been since you've seen a round air filter? Long time for me and it brought back a lot of memories of working on older Fords.


I forgot to put some detail in on the radiator and fan. There I bought a fox 3 core ally radiator and I wanted to use an electric fan, specifically a Ford OEM fan. We've got a lot of e fans lying around so I chose a SN95 94-95 style fan as it fit really well on the radiator. All we had to do was fab up some ally supports and weld them to the radiator. I suck at ally welding but we were able to get it done well enough to work for the setup. Most of the fan weight is carried by the fan lip resting on the bottom of the radiator, but even without that the mounts are sturdy although not pretty.



Since electrics are going in I needed a battery in place to fabricate the heavy current harnesses. I've got that in place now and it's tidy, down to the starter, grounds, and some feeds for the fuse panel.


First job was to locate the Ron Francis fuse panel. That was done by fabbing up a few cardboard templates and trying them in various locations in the car up behind the dash and where the panel would still be accessible.


Once we had a good location we fabbed the mount from steel and installed rivnuts in it that we could use to bolt the fuse panel to the mount.



And this is mocked up again with the mount and panel where it will live.


On other fronts, I secured a set of SVO seats that are in decent shape. They need to be recovered but at least I've got the basics in place, complete with manual pump up bladders for lumbar that work well. The gray will match the interior quite well.


The dash is starting to get attention too. We had it down for mocking up of the fuse panel mounts and it's time for dash repair to happen.


And on the ordering parts front I got a 17" spare tire. I hadn't thought about that aspect of the car until I read it on the forum, that is, with the larger Cobra brakes you need a special spare that will clear them. Found one in great shape for a fair price.


Ron Earp

It has been a busy week so little work on the Mustang. What happened? Five day team meeting at work which knocked me out for the week, followed by family vacation and eclipse viewing, and Sydney got her license. Yep, she's now legal to drive and took her first trip out yesterday to have lunch with a friend. I might be more excited than she is since that means we don't have to ferry her around as much as we were doing. Unfortunately the Fox isn't done yet but the pressure is now on!


Obligatory eclipse picture from our SC trip.


Now that our busy late summer is winding down we can get down to business on project Fox. First up is making another set of arms for the car since we didn't like what the SN95 arms were going to require in the way of wheels and fitment. Arms Part Deux.


Sydney got a bit of welding action in assembling the adjustable spring perches. She did fine with it and overcame her fear of "the sparky things".


And of course we finally selected the wheels and went with a set of GT/Bullet units, around 2002 vintage. They fit up really well and with some 245s or 255s will be the ticket for this car.


The arms and the rest of the suspension was bolted on and now we're back to where we were a week or so ago. We've got a roller! She's rolling on some of the Cobra wheels at the moment but at least she is rolling. Need to get it off the lift area so that we can turn attention to the interior and wiring.


I've ordered a lot of parts - upholstery, new door cards, emblems, wiring sheaths, and lots more. I suspect the next immediate job is to roll out the sound deadener on the interior of the car. Yay, but it has to be done.

Ron Earp

The offspring spent time putting down some dynamat-like product in the floor of the fox. I used the same stuff in the Torino and while I had no back to back comparisons to judge from I *think* it helped a little. Maybe. Without proper sound frequency measurements, which none of these companies seem to be bothered to do even though you can get good spectrum analyzers for your iPhone, it's a crap shoot.


Ron Earp

Wheels comparison, Cobra:




I am good with either set of wheels and Sydney is too. I enjoy the look of the Cobras for the styling and edges which match the early Fox well. But I like the Thrusts with the gray that compliments the gray trim of the car and what will be a gray interior.

Anyhow, I went with the Continental Extreme Contact tires in a 255 size and they are mounted on the Thrusts so the car is going to start life with those wheels. Sydney still wants to call in a favor from a good friend of ours and wheel maker (among many other things) and have a set of 10 hole LX/GT wheels from the 80s replicated in a 17" format.

Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
I think the Bullitts look right at home on that car....

Brian Kissel

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Fantastic job Ron. I like the looks of the thrusts myself, but it looks great either way. Great project.

Regards Brian
Awesome job Ron/Sydney. I should start looking for my old 1980 Mercury Capri LOL, please let us know how the Sniper is, i'd like to put that on my FFR Cobra.
Cheers Ray