We already know that Foxbodies are getting difficult to find in decent condition these days. Perhaps you’ve done your search and finally found your new-to-you Fox and you want to go have a look before buying. Well, being that you’re reading this, you probably have a good idea of what to look for on a used, possibly abused, ride. We’re not going to cover the things you would look for as you probably already have a good idea, but rather the things that are not as well known and even easier to miss in a Fox.
These cars have been around for a while and there are all kinds of drivers out there. You want to make sure you know what you’re getting into, so here are some things to look for.
Most of these suggestions for all Foxbodies. Whether it’s a Mercury Capri, an SVO, or a GT, the problem areas remain the same. However, 4-cylinder LX cars tend to have less chassis wear on them which makes them great candidates for a V8 swap.
It’s probably no surprise that the Fox is a unibody; meaning that the structure of the chassis also forms the frame of the car. This means that rust under the body can actually cause structural issues and needs to be taken care of to ensure it doesn’t flop around like a wet noodle when you hit the gas. Check under the car where the subframe connects to the body behind the front wheels as well as the floor pans. Another cancerous spot is the rear wheel wells.
While you’re checking the rear wheel wells, check the torque boxes on either side. These are where the rear end and suspension components get attached to the body of the car. A fox that has had a lot of hard launches will begin to show stress cracks in this area, especially if the car has been modified for power. Even on a clean fox, torque box reinforcement should be a consideration if you’re considering adding power.
The Foxbody was always considered to have a weak frame right from the factory. It was barely able to handle the power that it hit the showroom floor with. For this reason, one of the first mods an enthusiast should do is subframe connectors. Check to see if the car has subframe connectors. If it does, that is a massive bonus.
If you’re looking at a T-top car and envision your mullet streaming gloriously in the wind while you cruise, you should know that the structural integrity is weakened with T-tops. The subframe connectors are even more important in this scenario. However, another problematic area specifically with T-tops are the A-pillars. Inspect the A-pillars for cracking near the tops for signs of abuse.
Check the lugs on the wheels. If you see 4 lugs, you’re probably looking at a stock configuration. If it is 5 lug, it has been upgraded. These upgrades often include better brakes and possibly upgraded rear axles. Ask about the rear differential as gears were a very popular upgrade. Beware that if it has 3.73 or 4.10 gear ratios, the car is going to be very torquey, but the fuel mileage is not going to be suitable for highway driving.
The rear triangle quarter windows are very hard to refurbish or replace. It is rumored that Ford had misplaced the original molds long ago. Many companies have offered replacements that do not have “Mustang” in white lettering due to trademark issues with Ford. So if you notice that the rubber molding is showing some wear, just beware that this is not a cheap fix as one would assume.
The hoods on stock foxbodies have become a hot commodity. During the early 2000’s, many were replaced with fiberglass cowl hoods or custom hoods with scoops. If your target car has a clean stock hood, that adds a touch to the value.
Engine mods are a dime a dozen for the V8 version of these cars. If you’re looking to keep the engine as-is, you’ll want to make sure that the mods are kept to a minimum. Many people will say their engines are 347 strokers or are bored out 306ci engines, but from the outside, it is impossible to tell. Unless they have paperwork to back it up, assume the engine is a stock 302ci block. The one mod that may be worth a little extra is the Cobra intake. These intakes are hard to come by now and suited the 302 very well.
While you’re looking at the engine, check out the wiring. Because these cars were in their prime as custom lighting and stereos were a fad, all sorts of crazy wiring were done to them. Any knicks in the wrong areas can cause all sorts of gremlins and are a real headache to troubleshoot. Ford genuine headlights and taillights will have a “Ford” stamping on them if you’re curious if they’re original.
As for the interior, just assume the ashtray lid in the console will be broken. They always are. There are replacement kits to convert the console to have cup holders and USB ports if you should feel so inclined. Check the carpet as replacements are not quite the same as the original factory carpets if they need replacing. Check the headlight and foglight switches as these often break easily.
One last piece of advice especially for our Canadian readers. 1993 was the only year for a Foxbody Cobra. Canadian GT cars were sometimes called a “Cobra GT” on their window stickers and even on registration, but were actually exactly the same as American GT foxes other than the metric speedometer and, in some cases, daytime running lights. If it’s not a 1993 SVT Cobra, it is not a Cobra.
None of these things should dissuade you from buying your dream Fox. But they will help expose how much time, money, and effort will be required for your project. Nearly every single part for a Fox is available online but at a premium price. Don’t be afraid to reject a car if you’re unsure, just continue the search. Good things come to those who wait.