Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1

    Default Newbie starting first project, where do I start?

    Sorry if this is the wrong place for this post.

    I drove a '91 2.3 in high school. I have fond memories of it and always wanted to have 5.0 project car. Researching, I found the early 80's T-Tops stangs and fell in love. I've wanted to take a project and turn it into something like this that I found here:!/page17

    So this weekend, I bought the attached car. It's in rough shape, but checks the boxes for what I'm looking for. It's an '85 GT with T-Tops. It runs, but it runs pretty rough. Needs a lot of cosmetic work as well. I guess my question is where do I start?

    1. The engine runs very rough, there's some sort of aftermarket fan installed on it as well, I'm not sure what those switches are all about.
    2. There's a lot of cosmetic work that needs to be done.

    I've attached a few photos. Any guidance would be hugely appreciated.

    Name:  20180602_111336.jpg
Views: 157
Size:  102.7 KB
    Name:  20180602_111719.jpg
Views: 156
Size:  77.3 KB
    Name:  20180602_111927.jpg
Views: 152
Size:  155.2 KB

  2. #2
    FEP Member endub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Fayetteville AR


    I would try to get it running good first. If it were me( I have an 85 t top too) I would ditch that electric fan setup. Originally it was a engine driven fan with a shroud which looks to be missing. The previous owner may have done that if it was overheating thinking that would help.
    The carb on those is notorious for leaks and getting gunked up(especially because of ethanol gas) so look into rebuilding it.
    Also personally I think that pistol grip is hideous. Originals can be had for cheap.
    I won't even get into the cosmetics because they changed a lot of the original look with the hood and other noticeable stuff.

    Good luck and have fun.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G920A using Tapatalk

  3. #3


    Refinishing the trim and buffing the black would go a long ways.

    I would make it run and drive nice and enjoy the summer. Once bad weather is upon us I would take my list from having driven it and focus on things one at a time.

    To me the looks like overall it is very nice. A lot of cars out there are far less nice. for instance here is my 1/2 million mile 86GT that was a daily for 18 years year around in the Midwest.

    I drove it mostly stock that whole time.

    I’ve since rebuilt the entire front suspension. SN95 rotors, 99GT calipers and slotted rotors, HPS pads, Steeda X2 balljoints, MM SN95 to Fox outer tierod ends, 2.5 turn reman rack, low miles Stock GT springs, Stock struts, HPM caster/camber plates, fresh control arm bushings, fresh sway bushings and links, fresh PS pump with inline filter and trans cooler. Smaller “underdrive” crank pulley to reduce PS pump speed, smaller “overdrive” water pump pulley (summit reproduction of the 93 cobra pulley)

    I would like a smaller front swaybar like the 93Cobra uses but the stock GT swaybar works out well with what I’ve done in the rear for now.

    Low miles 4cyl LX rear springs, tubular rear lower control arms, no rear sway-bar. SN95 8.8 with disc brakes. LMR proportioning plug and Summit adjustable proportioning valve. M1858 (mark Vii) 1” bore master cyl. Had to use adapters on the passenger front and one master cyl line. I’m told the Torino used a master cyl with the exact correct fittings that is 1”.

    Things under the car I need to do: add narrower Mosier 8.8 axles with Northern Racing brackets to narrow rear track width to Stock fox because my 245/45/17 tires rub. Install my MM upper control arms, MM panhard, and swap rear gears from 2.73 to 3.90.

    These are fun cars, but the most enjoyment comes from driving them!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by erratic50; 06-04-2018 at 03:20 AM.

  4. #4
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    SE Michigan


    PT you found the place that keeps our similar cars running.
    No questions are stupid. If not sure, ask! Pics are very welcome.
    Respectful posts, tasteful humor, critiques good or bad ok.

    Congrads on the very nice intact car. Great year. Worth putting time/money work into.
    80's era was/is special. Best mix of simple analog past and future digital complex.
    Add fond memories for a start and vision of making more. That car can do it.
    Plan?: daily driver, cruise, show, race, spare car?

    Thorough cleaning, inspection. Get to know it well.
    Inspect brakes, lines, hoses, wiring, body structure, as thorough as possible.
    Look for clues as to past use and maintenance.

    One start is could spray paint molding trim so all matches. Perfection not required.
    New battery ground cable. Repaired terminals, so many add ons not good. Sort battery wiring.

    Keep notes. Creating a MS office or similar database on pc works great.
    Columns can include: date, miles, task performed, part numbers, where part was bought, costs, time spent.
    Make list of tasks needed to do and parts desired. Good luck knocking it down....

    Factory 1985 Helm published shop manual set and 85 EVTM are gold if DIY or not.
    Used paper or cd easy to find inexpensively. Will pay for themselves almost immediately.

    A lot of people will find a Hurst or similar grip like that easier on the arm/wrist when shifting.
    If replacing, do keep it. Swap every now and then. They are not cheap to buy.

    Find stock fan shroud and fan. Auto recycle yards, swap meets, ebay.
    Get rid of all the extra wiring once fan is in place. Evaluate the switch box item.

    Then get that engine figured out. Could be simple or not. Mechanical, electrical.
    Compression check. Tune check. Carb check and clean. Fluids check and change.
    Hope no damage from overheating because of what looks like a manual control ele fan.
    Or figure out why that was done in the first place (more power? overheating?).
    Last edited by gr79; 06-02-2018 at 02:32 PM.

  5. #5


    Thanks for all the feedback folks!

    To answer some of the questions, it will be weekend driver. I agree, the pistol grip is tacky, but it's lower on my list of things to replace right now. I'd really like to get it running correctly, but I'm not 100% sure how to diagnose. I think my next steps are:

    1. Replace wheels/tires. The old tires have basically no tread, so these just aren't safe.
    2. Get keys made for the t tops.
    3. Oil change
    4. Replace thermostat
    5. Review the exhaust system

    Anyone have any other ideas about what my first steps should be to diagnose driving performance issues? Feedback on my next steps?

  6. #6


    I did what you did a couple years ago. Went out and bought one and went, Now what?

    I decided that I wanted what I had to run correctly, and have all the usual bells and whistles working. Which for me meant catching the car up on alot of maintenance it never received before I took possession.

    This is what I did to sort out my Performance issues:

    1) Oil Change. Not necessarily a performance thing. I just wanted to see what came out.
    2) get a manual so you know how to check the basics. Firing order, base timing, handy pictures to read the spark plugs, spark plug wire routing etc.
    3) Tune-up. Cap, Rotor, Plugs, Plug wires. I started with a subscription to AlldataDIY online for getting all the pertinent information for doing this.
    4) rebuild the carb, searched up the web and forums on methods for correctly tuning and adjusting.

    Then I drove it and did what others have recommended, make a list of issues that you discover over time and put each item on a priority list. That will make it easy for you to focus and make steady progress over time.

    Most important thing to remember: Have Fun!

  7. #7
    FEP Super Member sowaxeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Greenwood, IN


    The first and easiest steps to get it running good are to have the carb rebuilt (or do yourself if you know how), replace the plugs (and wires if they are old), rotor and cap. Also when you removing the cap & rotor, check the vacuum advance module for smooth movement....if it doesn't move freely, replace it. You didn't say how high the miles are, but unless it has any internal issues (valves, etc...) she should run fine with a thorough tune up.

    Regarding your t-top keys, do you know what # they should be? There is a list on this forum of who has what #'s and willingness to help have copies made if needed. My car is a #296.
    Jason Smith
    MCA #65481

    '82 GT Med. Red - 15k Mile Orig. Survivor (Foxtoberfest 2018 Best Original 79-86)
    '85 GT Black - 16k Mile Orig. Survivor (Foxtoberfest 2016 Best Original 79-86)
    '88 #400 Saleen Coupe "Mean Machine" Legal Guardian
    '92 LX 5.0 Calypso - 10k Mile Orig. Survivor (Sold @ Foxtoberfest...2017 Best Original 87-93)
    '93 LX Yellow/Black Summer Feature - 2,700 Mile Original Survivor
    '05 S-281 Mineral Grey - 16k miles @ counting.

  8. #8


    Hi PT and welcome to the forum!

    Ditto what everyone is saying as far as getting it running right. If you aren't up for a carb rebuild, at least run some cleaner through it. It couldn't hurt. As for the cap and rotor, be careful about what you buy. The cheapie caps have aluminum contacts that corrode pretty quickly. This will cause poor spark performance. I found the MSD cap has brass contacts that hold up much better.

    To bring the luster back the to the car's finish find a clay bar kit. When I did mine it almost looked showroom new.


    As always, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you, it's what you think you know that just ain't so."

  9. #9


    How about a vacuum gauge? Find out if the engine is operating correctly. Is it generating enough vacuum? Purchasing a shop manual as listed above will definitely help out.

  10. #10


    I have a new to me 85 GT 5 spd as of April. Mine ran like crap when I first got it- it had been sitting for a while. It had about a quarter tank of gas in it and it didn’t take long to run through it. Once I had fresh gas in it, I did a sea foam spray treatment directly in the carb, assisted by my 15 year old daughter keeping the rpms above idle, followed by a couple tanks of gas with sea foam in the tank. It’s running great for now, but I’m planning to rebuild the carb at some point.

    I would make make sure you don’t have an old gas issue, then do the normal maintenance stuff- plugs, wires, cap, rotor, etc. until it starts perking up. These old carbed 5.0s are hardy beasts and respond well to maintenance. Keep it drivable as you work on it. I am in the middle of several projects or repairs on mine, but I drive it 2-3 times a week and it never fails to put a smile on my face. Good luck and welcome!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts