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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is kind of the opposite of most threads in this forum, so if a mod wants to move it somewhere else, feel free.

I've owned my '89 GT convertible since '94, with it being my DD for the first 4 or 5 years. I've thrown an awful lot of money and parts at the car over the years, but the end result is that it's hardly daily drivable anymore, and it has seen far fewer track days than my other two cars. From spring ’94 to fall ’00 I put about 80k miles on the car; from fall ’00 to fall ’12 I put about 12k on it. :( It did one track weekend in March of this year, which was the first time it had seen a track since 2006, and I wasn't even able to do all the sessions due to axle seal issues and the infamous gas tank puking issue that others also have experience with.

So, in recent days I've been thinking that it might be time to "de-trackify" the car a bit so I can DD it again and actually get back to enjoying the car. For the most part that will be restoring some creature comforts, as the heat and A/C were removed back in the 2000-2002 timeframe. With no A/C, the dark car with a black top and black racing seats becomes unbearable in hot weather (yes, even with the top down), and the lack of heat and A/C means I have no way to defrost/defog the car if it's cold or damp. (I still remember having to leave an auto-x event years ago because it started raining pretty good and with a wet driver in the car all the windows were fogging up heavily and there was nothing I could do about it. :rolleyes:) I used to love driving with the top down even with temps in the 40s - just crank the heat up - but I can't do that anymore.

In addition to the HVAC stuff, I think swapping out the Sparco Evo2s for some sport seats would make entry/exit easier, be cooler in hot weather, and allow me to use the stock seatbelts for normal driving, while allowing me to still use my 5-point harnesses if I decide to auto-x or track the car.

Last but not least, I'd probably end up getting my rollbar modified so the door bars were lower. Something similar to the old (and apparently recently rejuvenated) Kenny Brown Super Street setup. On the flexi-flyer convertible, I think having those forward legs, even if they're down low alongside the seat bottom, would help with chassis rigidity a bit.

With all that said, I guess my initial questions are mostly about how best to go about restoring the HVAC stuff. It's been so long since I had all the appropriate parts on the car that I'm not even sure what I need, so I'll probably start off by finding a junkyard to just put eyeballs on everything. Some random questions as they come to my mind...

  • - It appears the A/C evaporator core is still in the dash, but the two connections sticking out of the firewall have been open to who knows what for the past 10 or 12 years. How big an issue is that?
  • - What parts can I reasonably get from a junkyard car, and what parts would I be better off buying new?
  • - Since I’ve got a 351, what vehicle(s) should I be looking at to scavenge brackets from?
  • - Is it worth getting parts from a newer car (newer cars have smaller, more efficient A/C compressors, for instance), or would I just be making it hard on myself to try to get the system set up?

As far as the seats go, here's what I've got right now:

The cross rails are 1x1" square steel tubing welded in pretty close to the floor. To put sport seats in (something like a Corbeau A4 or Sparco R505) would I need to cut those out so I could then bolt in slider style mounts? And are there any good reclinable sport seats that have the hole in the bottom for a 5-point harness, or would I have to get the seats modified for that?
 

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For the P/S and A/C you just need a different front bracket (the steel bracket), the others are the same as the 5.0L. I might still have the one sitting around from my old 351w setup, I will have to check for you. I'm not sure if they ever came on any factory vehicle, but Ford Motorsport used to sell them. (Looks like they still do, part number: M8511B351)

Tom :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It occurs to me that I don't have any of the stock bracketry anymore, as I did a March setup a while back.



I guess I could get in touch with them to see if they could sell me just the bits to convert to having A/C and PS on the driver side.
 

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As far as the cage why not just convert your door bars to a swing out? I'm in the process of doing that on mine to ease the pain of sliding over the door bar. Or you can just remove them for daily driving and reinstall for track use.
Im going with the Alston race cars swing out kit on mine.
 

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That evaporator should be okay if you flush it good. In the past I have used brake cleaner to flush out AC components with no problems. Any solvent that doesn't react to aluminum and evaporates with no residue will work. Just blow it out good and keep it on a vacuum long enough to get any moisture out before charging it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As far as the cage why not just convert your door bars to a swing out? I'm in the process of doing that on mine to ease the pain of sliding over the door bar. Or you can just remove them for daily driving and reinstall for track use.
Interestingly enough, the door bars started out as swing-out bars. The guy that did the install said it was a PITA once you were in the seat to try to swing the bar in, keep it the right height to line up with the clevises, and put the pin in. I never tried it myself, but based on how hard it is to do anything once you're seated in the racing seats (even without being strapped in), I trust what he told me.

But, that is a good thought - I could go that route. Just leave 'em out when I'm on the street, and then when I go to a track event, install them and leave them pinned (and just climb over them as I do now).

That evaporator should be okay if you flush it good. In the past I have used brake cleaner to flush out AC components with no problems. Any solvent that doesn't react to aluminum and evaporates with no residue will work. Just blow it out good and keep it on a vacuum long enough to get any moisture out before charging it.
Good to hear, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Will the 5.0L coolant hard lines (back to the heater core) fit on a 351W? And if I'm using '94/95 fuel rails, do I need '94/95 coolant lines? I see both styles on ebay, and I'm wondering if maybe they're different to account for the differences in the fuel rails.
 

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Might be different for the EGR plate cooler and Throttle Elbow thing on the 94/95 Mustangs.
The 87-93 hard lines work with the 351w (assuming the 94/95 fuel rail is not in the way).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Might be different for the EGR plate cooler and Throttle Elbow thing on the 94/95 Mustangs.
Ah, good call, I had forgotten about the different intake/TB arrangement.

The 87-93 hard lines work with the 351w (assuming the 94/95 fuel rail is not in the way).
Cool, thanks. I just won a set of the Fox ones on Ebay, so we'll see how they work out. One small step ...
 

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Pat,
I recently started to put my Mustang back to slightly more street friendly since it goes to about 2 autocrosses a year and has not seen a track day in years. None of my HVAC worked since 1996, and even then it was sporadic. I am still leaving those items out and picking days in the summer that it is nice enough to not worry about HVAC. As for the roll bar, I had the swing-out doors and found them to be very hard to use everytime I got in and out of the car. I welded them in place since the pins were pointless. Last spring I removed the door bars and bought the MM low slung door bars. Doing that made a big difference in how easy it is to get and out of the car, even with a race seat. Last summer was the most I have driven my Mustang since it was my primary car in 1997. Having a reliable engine, electronics, less issues getting in and out, and a few other modifications for a more street friendly car means I get to enjoy the car more than before. There is nothing wrong with going back away from being a racecar and enjoying the car more on the street. Good luck on the HVAC, and look at the MM low slung door bars as an option to keep the back half of your roll bar and replace the front half.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I didn't even know they had those low slung door bars. They show on their site that they're only available for the hardtop rollbars, but I imagine one could graft them onto a convertible bar. I'll have to check into that.

Thanks for reaffirming my thoughts on this. :) I think reinstalling the HVAC stuff (particularly the AC) is going to be a bit of a PITA, but it will be worth it in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Nothing particularly interesting to report.

I haven't found any shops in the Hampton Roads area that stock seats, so I haven't found anywhere to "try on" any seats.

I shot MM an email through their website yesterday to ask (1) if there's any issue with adding those low-slung door bars to one of their convertible rollbars, and (2) does having those low-slung bars vs. not having them provide any structural rigidity benefit? The rollbar is just bolted in, so I'm guessing the answer to #2 is NO, but I dunno. On their website they only off the low slung bars as an option on their hardtop rollbars, but I don't know if that's just due to demand or some other reason, hence question #1.

I picked up an '87-93 heater hard line piece off Ebay. It's always funny to see how stuff is priced there. I found a number of listings for them, most with prices in the $65-80 range. This one was $15. :confused: Looks to be in good shape, even included the hoses - I'll slap some black Rustoleum on it and call it a day. Haven't had a chance to install it yet; having three cars that you're always tinkering with tends to slow down projects on all three of them. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Picked up a new heater core online the other day, so one of these days I'll have to go through the ass pain of installing that.

The seat debate is killing me now. I've gotten to a couple shops to try on Corbeau and Sparco seats. I've narrowed it down to either the Corbeau CR1 or the Sparco Chrono medium.
- I think the Sparcos look nicer and in general Sparco has a better reputation. The Corbeaus (not just the CR1s, but all of the Corbeaus I've seen) just have a bit more of a utilitarian look to them and don't seem as refined as the Sparcos.
- With the Corbeaus I can get the slot for the lap harness installed, whereas Sparco doesn't offer that option. Of course, all of the track days in my Subaru and in my CTS-V have been just using the factory belts, so it wouldn't be the end of the world for me to not use the 5-point harnesses.
- The Corbeaus actually fit me a bit better so the bolstering would be more effective (but they're still not tight to the point they would be uncomfortable for day to day use).
- And the Corbeaus cost quite a bit less, so that's always nice. All told it's about $1150 vs. $1475, and actually the Corbeaus will be less since I get a military discount from the shop that's got those. Much of the price difference is in the mounts and sliders - Corbeau offers a combined mount/slider for only $90 each, whereas the Sparcos are separate and are more expensive ($135/ea for mounts, another $70/ea for sliders).

All that laid out puts things pretty strongly in the Corbeaus' favor, but I guess the first point is what makes me keep considering the Sparcos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Well, I did say in my initial post that I wanted to retain the ability to use harnesses for those occasions when I decide to auto-x or track the car, rare as that may be.

Edit: And if I elect to go with a seat that's not set up for 5-point harnesses, then that opens up other options like the Corbeau GTSII, Cobra LeMans or Recaro Specialist. All of those are similar in design to the (long discontinued, I believe) Recaro SEs that I've had in my Subaru since ~2004. Very comfortable, but reasonably supportive for auto-x and track duty.

Decisions, decisions, decisions... :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Random thread bump...

I ended going with some black Corbeau CR1s with the slot added in the lower cushion to allow for the 5pts. I also got the Corbeau slider/mounts.

Saturday was a gorgeous day (before this crappy weather arrived on the East Coast), so I pulled the Sparco Evo2s and side mounts out of the car, cut the door bars off the rollbar, and then removed the rollbar. (The rollbar is a modified bolt-in MM 6pt, which is a bit unwieldy, so I was going to have my buddy come help me get it out of the car. Then I realized that the reason I wanted to remove it was to cut off the door bars and have a shop make me new, low door bars, so if I cut the door bars off first I could probably remove it all myself. Sure 'nuff, I could!) I talked to MM a couple months back and the reason they only advertise their low-slung door bars for the hardtop Foxes is because the main hoop lands on the floor differently in the hatch/notch vs. convertible. They said it would be easier to just have a shop bend new bars rather than ordering the MM ones and modifying them to fit the convertible main hoop.

I pulled the center console and carpet out. The "old" carpet came from ACC and is really not that old - only ~6 years. It's in perfect condition, as the car has probably seen less than 3000mi in that time, and is normally kept under a car cover, but I was not at all impressed at how it fit when I installed it back in '08. It's their "mass back" carpeting, so this time I went with the normal stuff in the hopes that it fits better. We'll see. Now that the interior is mostly stripped I need to take some measurements and then order some thermal/acoustic insulation to put under the carpet.

I need to chop out the 1x1" cross bars, and then see about mocking up the new seats. One hurdle to overcome is that on both sides the front inner seat mounting bolt apparently seized way back in '01 when the stockers were removed and the Sparcos went in. Rather than try to extract the bolts, they were just lopped off flush with the floor. :mad: I suppose at the time it made sense - why bother extracting a bolt when you're welding in seat mounts that will make the stock mounts unusable? Fortunately, they're easy to access, so I'm hoping I can drill and EZ-out them without too much hassle. Famous last words... :p

Since the interior is already partially stripped, I'm debating whether I want to pull the dash to install the heater core (which I received from Rock Auto probably 5 months ago :rolleyes:). And I could also re-do my gauges; I've had new ones waiting to go in for 3 or 4 years now (double :rolleyes: and a :().

So, depending on how Mother Nature cooperates I might get some work done during this long weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
They did the cage in my buddy's track-only STI - they definitely do good work. I'm down in the Hampton Roads area now, so I'll do some asking around down here to see if I can find someone a bit closer.
 
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