Eight months ago, we set out to transform this tired 1989 Fox Body Mustang into a cool cruise night ride, while working with a $7,000 budget. The ultimate goal was to show what a typical "car guy" (or "car girl") can accomplish at home. As you can see, the transformation is incredible.
A quick recap on "Project Resolution". It is a 1989 Mustang LX, with the popular 5.0 engine. It has approximately 130k miles on the odometer and has suffered a pretty substantial front-end collision. The positive factors of the car were that it was relatively rust-free (for an East Coast car) and not overly molested (outside of the front-end accident damage repairs).
Back in January, we decided to take on the project of transforming this Fox Body. Knowing that the car had accident damage, we assessed the condition and ensured the car was within factory tolerances for alignment. Although the car was within specs, the damage we could see was only the tip of the iceberg. From our original assessment, we thought that a new radiator support and inner fender aprons from CJ Pony Parts would fix the damage. Once we got deeper into the project, we realized the damage was much worse.
After we pulled the engine and transmission, we found a lot more damage than we could initially see. We pulled up measurement specs online and took some initial measurements to see how close it was to the specs. The front-end was shifted to the driver's side and was pushed back quite a bit on the passenger side. At this point, we had to decide whether we were going to cut our losses or see the project through (whether we fixed the damage or farmed out the work). As some sort of accident damage is likely to be encountered when working on a project vehicle that is 20, 30, 40+ years old, we decided to tackle the repair.
Our first attempt at fixing the damage was by using a Porta Power. This helped a little, but the damage was so extensive that we could not get it within specs. We decided to search Craigslist and see if we could find a front clip. Luck would have it that we found one within driving distance for $50. The clip was from a 1990, which has the same upper strut mounts. Not to jump ahead, but we found out the clip was from a 1991 or newer as we had to find different upper stut mount plates when we were assembling the car.
To get the clip ready for installation, we used our Eastwood 100lb Pressure Blaster and Ground Glass media to remove the old paint and rust. The saying "measure twice, cut once" applied to replacing the front-end. We replaced the front clip behind the strut towers, which allowed us to remove and replace the factory spot welds for a repair that is mostly undetectable. Matt utilized Eastwood's Battery Powered Reciprocating Saw and Eastwood Spot Weld Removers to remove the old clip and to prepare the new clip for installation. Once cleaned up and fitted, the Eastwood MIG 175 was used to joint the new clip to the Project Resolution.
While this was going on, the rest of the crew were working to clean up the bolt on parts, interior panels, suspension components, and body working the hood, fenders, and doors.Although a spray booth is optimal and recommended, we wanted the build of Project Resolution to be just like a person would experience building their vehicle at home. As we know most home hobbyists do not have access to a spray booth, we decided to give Project Resolution a "driveway job".
The Eastwood Blue Pearl really pops in the sunlight. To give the paint a mirror shine, we colorsanded and buffed the paint using 3M compounds and Norton Dry Ice. The response we've received from people that have seen the paint first hand is that they are amazed that it was painted outside.Now, to answer the question that everyone wants to know....did we stay on budget? To get to the stage that Project Resolution is currently in, we went over budget. Including the price of the vehicle ($1,300), we came in at $10,776. As with any project, there will be certain things that are encountered, as you get further into the project that you will need to decide how to handle. There were a few items we decided to address and make right, which caused us to go over our original budget.
The main item was the engine. We were planning to just freshen the original up, based off of the compression tests, but once we pulled the intake and heads, we saw that there was corrosion in two of the cylinders. We paid $2,250 for the crate engine from the local Ford dealer, plus new fuel injectors, timing cover, sensors, hoses, spark plugs, fluids, etc and we were into the engine for $3,000. To make the car safe, we decided to also put in new struts, shocks, and upgrade the front brakes and rotors. Although we could have skipped this next item, we also decided to install a new windshield and rear hatch glass. Both of these items were usable, but had damage that was beyond glass polishing. Technically, we could have left the glass, but it was in poor shape and look really bad against the Blue Pearl paint.
Below is an itemized list of the items we used during the build. Please note, some items are more than a typical hobbyist would need because we had multiple people working on the car (example - we had respirators for those stripping paint, doing body work, and painting).
|Item||Total Cost||Purchased From||Qty|
|Storage Baggies and Bin||$8.43||Wal Mart|
|Drain pans||$11.55||Wal Mart||2|
|Front Fender Aprons (inner fender)||$164.99||CJ Pony Parts||1|
|Radiator Support||$151.99||CJ Pony Parts||1|
|Door Hinge Kit||$18.99||CJ Pony Parts||1|
|Hinge Check Roller & Pin (2)||$11.98||CJ Pony Parts||2|
|PIG Mat Roll||$53.98||Eastwood||2|
|4.5" Cleaning/Striping Disc Kit||$89.97||Eastwood||3|
|Spot Weld Cutter||$39.98||Eastwood||2|
|Pro Spot Weld Cutter||$25.99||Eastwood||1|
|Replacement Spot Weld Cutters||$17.99||Eastwood||1|
|Pinch Weld Clamps||$24.99||Eastwood||1|
|Tarp, towels,spreaders||$27.98||Wal Mart||1|
|Aluma Blast, Spray Gray, Detail Gray Kit||$34.99||Eastwood||1|
|Ground Glass Media||$53.98||Eastwood||2|
|Contour Glazing Putty||$49.98||Eastwood||2|
|Contour Pro Filler||$59.99||Eastwood||1|
|Pro-Glas Filler Qt||$24.99||Eastwood||1|
|Eastwood Gray Urethane Primer Kit||$89.99||Eastwood||1|
|Black Epoxy Primer & Catalyst Kit||$94.99||Eastwood||1|
|Contour Polyester Primer Qt||$24.99||Eastwood||1|
|Evolution paint gun||$69.99||Eastwood||1|
|Landau Black Vinyl Dye||$41.97||Eastwood||3|
|Presidio Gray Interior Paint||$83.94||Eastwood||6|
|Aerosol Injected Cleaner||$9.99||Eastwood||1|
|Eastwood Euro Clear Kit||$124.99||Eastwood||1|
|Low VOC Blue Pearl Basecoat||$339.98||Eastwood||2|
|Bristle Disc Kit||$79.99||Eastwood||1|
|Sheet Metal Kit||$37.99||Eastwood||1|
|80 grit PSA paper||$17.99||Eastwood||1|
|80 grit DA paper||$11.99||Eastwood||1|
|120 grit PSA||$16.99||Eastwood||1|
|220 PSA paper||$18.99||Eastwood||1|
|2K AeroSpray Clear||$79.96||Eastwood||4|
|lacquer thinner/scuff pads||$28.60||PepBoys|
|timing cover, studs, emblems||$224.95||LateModelRestoration|
|Mounting tape, rivets, RTV, etc||$57.87||National Auto|
|Trim screws, nuts, etc||$19.19||Pep Boys|
|New Glass||$512.00||Mr. Windshield|
|Tie Rod End||$16.42||National Auto|
|Fluids, oil filter,||$85.00||Wal-Mart|
|exhaust hangers, molding tape||$25.40||Pep Boys|
|exhaust gaskets||$18.01||Pep Boys|
|wheel bearings/seals||$63.55||Pep Boys|
|Interior, weather-strip seals, engine tune-up, exhaust, brakes, injectors, sensors, battery tray, screws, lx trim kit, struts, shocks, bushings||$3,466.68||American Muscle|
Is this the final chapter for Project Resolution? I don't think so! Be sure to watch for our recap video of Project Resolution. There has been talk about taking it to the strip to see what it can do. Matt has also tossed around the idea of fabbing up a turbo. Give us your feedback. What would you like to see for the next chapter?
By: Nick Capinski
About the Author: Nick Capinski has been in the automotive hobby since his teenage years. Starting on the restoration/customization of his first vehicle when he was 13 years old, Nick has a passion for air-cooled VW’s and classic Corvettes. He has owned and built over 10 air-cooled VW’s and performed a body-off restoration of his father’s 1969 Corvette. As Sr. Content & Engagement Marketing Manager at The Eastwood Company, Nick enjoys sharing his knowledge and helping others complete their projects.