Can this be called a mid-life crisis?

b1pig

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All sign point to "yes"... but that's a topic for another day.

A few days ago, I introduced myself and our recent purchase of a 1994 GT Convertible. There will be no beauty shots here, so let me go ahead and set the standard here. For context, yes. I'm getting old. I'm pushing 50.... and it seems strange to say that, because I don't feel it. Not a pity party, but long story short, I've never had a fair chance to own a V8 coupe of any sort. My life has been taken up with Jeeps, kids and motorcycles. Recently, we sold an old Harley. With some spare cash I had burning a hole in my pocket, the wife once again indulged me. I've been wanting to get my hands on a decent fox body car. A couple of years ago, we both nearly went all-in on a 7-UP edition.... but the timing wasn't right. Wife needed a daily driver. So we passed it up.

Rewind to just a couple of weeks ago....
I had been on the hunt every night (and days while at work). I'd seen numerous cars come up and sell as can happen on FB. One really got me, though and I broke my silence and told the wife. She looked at the ad, and told me to go get it. Too late. But then.... sitting on the back end of a local dealership lot, was this gem.

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I caught a glimpse of it as I was riding with a coworker. I like Deep Forest Green. Good color. Couple of days later, I was in town with the wife. We went by to have a look at it and I immediately walked away. But, I came back. It was still there. So I skipped lunch and test drove it.

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On the test drive... Lets cover what was obviously WRONG....
-Torn drivers seat
-Drivers seat won't function
-Top won't function
-Rear view mirror is now a floor-view mirror
-Power steering isn't...
-The brakes have more shake in them than a Brazilian dancer
-The white "racing stripes" are in horrible shape
-Broken left corner marker
-Right fog light inop
-Only ONE window will function at all
-Top has an obvious cut/tear in it on right rear (but theres practically no water in the car)
-Its an auto, not a 5spd which is what I was after
-It needs an exhaust. As in.. there isn't one. Not past the cats at least
-Door panel trim is starting to peel off door
-Dash clock doesn't work at all
-No antenna for stereo

So... what was RIGHT?
-5.0 car
-All the major parts are there
-Someone (dispite miles) had truly taken car of the car
-not a spec of rust anywhere... at all. Trunk, deep quarters, rockers, floor, K-member, strut towers.. all solid
-4 nearly new tires.... although two different brands.... Same size, though.
-The engine fires up willingly. No noise (from internals)
-Body is straight other than parking lot rash here and there
-The paint is in decent shape except for the upper face of the right rear bumper
-Transmission shifts are crisp
-For an old high mile car, it scoots down the road pretty well
-Stereo works pretty well... but OEM speakers suck



After discussing it with the wife for a couple of days.... we worked out a deal with the dealership and took it home.

The first weekend, I fixed ALL of the windows. Figured out how to work the top (which doesn't leak hydraulic, but apparently had at one time), Remounted the rear view mirror, replaced some fuses. Verified the drivers seat "could" work, but part of a seat cover strap is apparently wrapped up in the seat track.... so I still need to remove the seat to get it sorted out. The power steering is fixed. While crawling around under the car replacing the power steering line, I found a smog pump delete block/pulley in place. That might require a little more investigation, and probably explains the CEL.

Over the course of the week, I had been working on removing the decals. I got the eraser wheel on it Friday and it was working like a champ.... but 4 hours on....

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BLEH.... Long story short I ran out of time Friday.
I won't get into family stuff, but Saturday and Sunday were shot.
Today..... I had to stay home with the kids. And I had a package sitting in the corner.

Off came the disco discs....
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(someone got a little excited with the gold paint)

On go the Power Stops! Got the set of 4 on my Jeep. Love them. Can't go wrong here I think.

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I also toned down that gold paint a little.

They are now bedded in. Silky smooth. Now, all I need is to get an exhaust on the car. One step at a time. One step at a time.


I think there was an original owner in Florida (found some papers in car from FL) who kept it for a long time, cared for it and stored it indoors or under a shelter.... then someone else got it and just drove the snot out of it until it ended up at this dealership. Whoever had it second didn't care for it. I'm only partly done removing the decals, but I'll get it done in the days (or weeks) to come. Seems true that the SN95 is an overlooked gem of a car. It has the "right" engine and makes all the right noises. No way I'll be doing any form of restoration on this car, nor will it turn into a race car. It WILL progress towards being a reliable GT. I suspect that it will see some mild performance upgrades, but nothing too brash. I'm not a died in the wool Ford fanatic, but I like older Mustangs and Rangers. Ironically, both have managed to find roots in my yard now. I'll update this post as I move along.
 
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92wastheyear

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Welcome to the jungle.

Your's looks a little like mine. Mine is a 96 with a 4.6L/5-Speed. Also Green/Tan vert (Different shade of green though). Mine is a low mileage....so most everything worked and is complete. I did have to replace the switch on the power seat. Pro-tip....if you can, run the seat all the way up to give yourself better access to the bolts for the seats20220711_211950.jpg
 
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OpalFrostGT

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Welcome to the family of fun! You have the right car and the perfect attitude. Keep us informed.
 

PinkieT

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Welcome to the herd, youngster! I was driving when you were in diapers :cool:
 
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b1pig

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Last week... the wife told me to throw some money at this car. So. I did.


Long story short, Flowmaster American Thunder system was ordered along with various accessories that I was going to need. As I may have mentioned elsewhere... a gEnIoUs cut the ball flanges off. They coulda just cut the flange bolts to get a similar result without making it more difficult for the next guy. So. 2.25 ball flange slip-on pipes and some stainless band clamps. They were going to be my stand-by for the welder. When I pulled my wire spool out, humidity got into it and the wire was a mess. So. The clamps got the nod.
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Everything laid out. Tailpipes test fitted and all is good to go.

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Three out of four exhaust hangers were also sliced in half. So, replacements were ordered.



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Here, I have the exhaust hanging in place. Since it really is a made to fit kit, having a prefabbed system to mock the exhaust up to was important for me since I didn't have anything to take measurements from. With the long side sort of jammed in place, I only needed to cut an inch or so off the long side. The shorter side... um ... that required a little more aggressive action.


"Adapting" the pipe with flange clamp to fit in my cutoff saw.

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Here is after the cut. The band clamps I ordered are intended for butt-style pipe connections. After I got them, I confirmed that they will work just dandy for slip-fit as well. Just to allow an easier clamp, I made a cut in the pipe to allow an easier "crush".

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I've never used the stuff before, but I had some strong recommendations from various sources to use exhaust sealer... and it seemed to be a good idea considering the butchery that the original H-pipe had been subjected to.

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A shot from the rear after installation and some test driving. Nothing special here.
 

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b1pig

b1pig

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I've had to sit home with the kids most of the week before they go back to school. This left me a little time to tackle something else that had been bugging me.

This:
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The cluster is just looking aged. The faces are fine. Only slight fade. The needles, however.... blah. I've seen enough videos and write-ups on how to do this, I figured I'd give it a shot. I had to take the cluster out anyway to replace the 194 bulbs that illuminate the gauges at night anyway.


(EDIT!) After doing some reading, it appears the "right" way to get the needles to their resting position is to pull the pins for the speedo and tach needles. So, if you do it, you'll need to do that BEFORE you pull the needles for the tach and speedo. :)

Before you go any further, bear in mind that removing the needles from the stepper motors on the cluster WILL cause your gauges to read out of spec from original. Unless you get incredibly lucky, your are going to have to remove and replace the needles several times to get them back to where they should be. So, I caution anyone with an older cluster that does not have a "calibration" feature of any sort.... you're gonna have issues. Before I started, that pic you see above was taken to "mark" my needles in where they were resting after I brought the cluster into my little cave to work on. Being careful to replace the needles after alterations and referring to the original pic still resulted in me removing the cluster several times to get it "right". With that little warning in mind....

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I've seen people advertising "special tools" for removing gauge needles. All you really need are common utensils. If you're doing this, its a good idea to place a thumb over the hub of the needle as you lightly pry (evenly) on your chosen tools. If you don't, the needle WILL become a projectile. Not that this happened to me. Nope. Not at all. No witnesses.

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This is for perspective. You may not need to do this, but if you want to get ALL of the paint off the bottom of the needle, then you'll probably need to cut these caps off. My GUESS here, is that the cap allows light to enter the needle through the little gap "at the bottom" opposite the needle and then keeps the light from "splashing back" onto the gauge face where it isn't wanted.

Also. Word of note. All of the needles have a counter weight. The larger needles are easy to see. The smaller needles, you won't see it until you get it opened up. Once opened up, the needle MAY side out of the hub as well. This can allow a little easier access to scrape the paint off of the needle as well, but again, caution is warranted so you don't loose the counter weight.... which can be seen in the pic below.
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Here you can see most of one needle scraped off. Just that little bit close to the hub. With the needle in the hub, its a little more work to get done, but patience is a virtue.

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Here a comparison between scraped and still yucky needles.

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I used some of my old model paint. Testors Red. Decided not to go the neon route, nor any funky colors. My wife has trouble seeing at night sometimes. Good visibility trumps coolness.

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This is just for reference... this one got another coat after this pic. Its good to have a bright light handy so you can check your work as you go both in the scraping and painting.

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All the needles back in place! Man, what a difference! Scroll back up and compare them.

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Not the best image with the lighting... but here it is installed in the car. WAY better than before.
 
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badass98svt

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Looks nice. I did that with a red paint marker many years ago. It really updates it. When I did it, I just slid a paper in between the needle and the gauge face.
 
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b1pig

b1pig

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Looks nice. I did that with a red paint marker many years ago. It really updates it. When I did it, I just slid a paper in between the needle and the gauge face.

How did you get the old paint off? Or did you just apply paint to the top?



Updated night image:
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I used two different types of bulbs here... and the difference is staggering. Looks like I'll be replacing three of the bulbs in there. They don't provide really any illumination to the needles on the smaller gauges.



Oh, yea. A side note.
While crawling around under the car today, I discovered proof that SOMEONE has monkeyed around with this car a little.
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Pretty certain these old 8.8's didn't come with a cast cover with bearing cap preloading screws. Nope. Not original. The sad part... this sucker is probably gonna have to come off. With that exhaust on, NOW I can hear and feel noise and vibrations I couldn't before due to the entire car rumbling like a log truck.

It is a "project".... I need a Cpt Picard face-palm here.....
 
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ttocs

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when you do the lighting for the gauges for a while now I have considered how much brighter/more even the lighting might be to just stick two let strips on the top/bottom of the inside of the gauge with one shining up and one down. There is also the option to put a 5 color strand in there that could select what color you want it to be which could be cool. I have had my stock gauges removed for some time or I would have tried it.
 

badass98svt

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Yes, I went right over the existing orange in the needle. I just did one pass with the marker, the needles still light up pretty well.
 

19mach69

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Great thread and step by step process on restoring certain parts of the car. I had no idea about the eraser wheel. I need to get one because I have a crappy pinstripe on my Cobra that needs to be removed and I wasn't sure about how to do it. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of your work on the car!
 

joe65

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good project! Cool to see you're so excited. makes this worth it! Good luck!
 
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b1pig

b1pig

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when you do the lighting for the gauges for a while now I have considered how much brighter/more even the lighting might be to just stick two let strips on the top/bottom of the inside of the gauge with one shining up and one down. There is also the option to put a 5 color strand in there that could select what color you want it to be which could be cool. I have had my stock gauges removed for some time or I would have tried it.

I did something similar to this on a Grand Cherokee I had. I put a set of white overlays on the cluster. At the time, the guy who sold them insisted that they would line up perfectly with the OEM marks so that the backlighting would illuminate the gauges. Truth was, they sucked. I did use an LED strip to light the gauges. Personally, that effect was not appealing to me. It did light the dash up, but it lit up THE WHOLE dash. I have a habit of dimming the dash lights when I drive at night. I don't want them glaring in my face, but I do want it to be crisp and easy to read.

The sad part of getting older. Vision decline. I've had 20/20 vision until I was 43. I recently had my first real eye exam since I was 19. Right eye is still pretty good. Left eye is just getting into prescription territory. Needless to say, my night vision has suffered a bit as well. In my case, I'm keeping it simple.

And as an update. I have a habit of checking the speedometer on everything I own for accuracy. Good thing I already had a baseline for what the engine speed was at 65. I set the cruise on a back road with the cluster's cover removed. I pushed the needles back on while cruising at 65. Really didn't take much effort. Everything checked and rechecked. The needle still does weird crap, hanging during both acceleration and deceleration. I may end up replacing the whole cluster at some point. Its more annoying than anything.
 

ttocs

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I did something similar to this on a Grand Cherokee I had. I put a set of white overlays on the cluster. At the time, the guy who sold them insisted that they would line up perfectly with the OEM marks so that the backlighting would illuminate the gauges. Truth was, they sucked. I did use an LED strip to light the gauges. Personally, that effect was not appealing to me. It did light the dash up, but it lit up THE WHOLE dash. I have a habit of dimming the dash lights when I drive at night. I don't want them glaring in my face, but I do want it to be crisp and easy to read.

The sad part of getting older. Vision decline. I've had 20/20 vision until I was 43. I recently had my first real eye exam since I was 19. Right eye is still pretty good. Left eye is just getting into prescription territory. Needless to say, my night vision has suffered a bit as well. In my case, I'm keeping it simple.

And as an update. I have a habit of checking the speedometer on everything I own for accuracy. Good thing I already had a baseline for what the engine speed was at 65. I set the cruise on a back road with the cluster's cover removed. I pushed the needles back on while cruising at 65. Really didn't take much effort. Everything checked and rechecked. The needle still does weird crap, hanging during both acceleration and deceleration. I may end up replacing the whole cluster at some point. Its more annoying than anything.
I have had a set of glasses for over 15 years but I only really needed them at night to see street signs and such and because of this I didn't wear them much. I could still read the stuff on tv and get around daily with out them. The past couple of years its been getting worse though and I finally got a set of progressive lenses that I am wearing all the time now and still trying to get use to.
 

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