Holy crap, three years on Oppo and I haven’t even introduced my daily driver!
I’ve shared a few wrenching posts on it, but this- this is long overdue. Meet... well, she doesn’t have a name. I never came up with one that felt like it fit, so I usually just refer to her as my 95. Short for SN95 of course, but also because this is a 1995 model with a 1995 build date. A triple threat! We’ve been together for almost 9 years now.
I knew that I was never going to become good at driving a manual transmission until I made one my daily driver. My first few vehicles had been RWD V8s, but at this point I had found myself driving a 1992 LeSabre. I was SO ready to get back into a RWD car.
I was also ready to get serious about doing more DIY wrenching too, so the ’90s quickly became my target decade. I didn’t want something old and hopelessly rusty, nor something newer that would be difficult/expensive to work on. Never thought I’d be driving a Mustang, but the SN95 soon revealed itself to be one of the best options that would suit my needs.
I wasn’t really interested in a Foxbody, but I also didn’t like the idea of having an early 4.6. And I sure didn’t want a V6... Long story short, I found exactly what I was looking for a in a 1995 Ford Mustang GT.
We met on the used lot of a Chevy dealer, and although I was new to Mustangs, I had done a bunch of research beforehand and just needed a test drive to confirm that she was the one for me. I still had a lot to learn though, and it would take months -nay, years- before I recognized all the mods that had already been done to it by previous owners.
I had no complaints with the gearshift, but they say that one of your first mods on these cars should be a short-throw shifter. Turns out, it already had a Steeda one on it! It wasn’t until I sat in a junkyard car that I realized just how bad the stock stick was.
When I looked up the part numbers on the Eibach springs, I learned that the car had been lowered about an inch or so from stock via their “Pro-Kit”. That’s just about perfect IMO. I don’t think I’d like the Sportline springs very much. Not with all these potholes around here, anyway.
Eibach also turned out to be the manufacturer of the car’s caster-camber plates. The guys at my local tire shop really like the extra adjustability that lets them dial it in just right.
The wheels turned out to be 17" Ford funnel-spoke/Bullitt/Torq-Thrust ones from a 2005-2009 S197 Mustang, fitted with 25mm wheel spacers and Pirelli P Zero Nero all-seasons.
Thanks to these rims, my Cobra brake swap was a piece of cake. Plenty of room for the new 13" rotors.
I didn’t stop at the front wheels, though. I upgraded the rear brakes to Cobra-spec, too. Since the axle-shafts had to come out for that, I took that opportunity to rebuild the solid axle with fresh clutches, bearings, and seals. That would have been an excellent time to install some shorter gears in the diff too, but... this car is still my daily driver and MPG is still kinda important to me. So the 2.73 gears stayed. (Hey, if I ever change my mind, at least the diff’s new TA Performance girdle/cover has a drain plug, so it won’t be quite as messy to open it back up again.) Also, before wrapping up the whole axle refresh, I splurged on an aluminum driveshaft.
Speaking of Cobra upgrades, I also hunted down a 2003/04 Cobra steering rack with its quicker ratio. It bolted right up and made the car feel tons more responsive. I love it.
I’ve been pretty pleased with the previous owner’s upgrades, but one part that they skipped over was the speedo calibration. So to match the larger wheels, I went ahead and got a new speedo gear in the transmission so that it’s dead-on-balls-accurate (it’s an industry term). And while I was under there, I decided to treat the car to an aluminum driveshaft, too.
Now as a daily driver, I can’t say that I really push the car hard enough to fully benefit from it, but I had a shop weld in some full-length subframe connectors anyway. One of the few things that I’ve taken this car into someone else’s shop for.
Though this is the first car I’ve been really serious about DIY wrenching, I’ve always been meticulous about doing it right, and have no regrets. Well... except for that one time I put cheap ball-joints on it and had to replace them again one year later. That was early in my wrenching career, and I’ve been careful to seek out quality parts ever since. Lesson learned.
Of course, not all wrenching has been excuses for upgrades. Aside from regular maintenance, I’ve been all over this car fixing other things as they wear out, often taking things just a little bit further than I really needed to. For example, when my water pump failed I also decided to remove the timing cover behind it and install a fresh timing cover gasket, timing chain & sprockets, and harmonic damper/balancer. Shouldn’t have to touch those bolts again for a long time.
I’m not much of a body man, and this car is not without its flaws. It’s the nicest car I’ve ever owned, and I’ve never really thought of it as a beater, but it might fit your definition of one. Although I do try to keep it waxed, the paint has plenty of light scratches all over it which would probably buff out if I spent some time on it. However, Carfax reported a previous owner’s “incident” with a curb, which might explain why the front end of the car isn’t quite as faded as the rear. Laser Red is an absolutely gorgeous color, but a couple of decades in the sun has a way of turning it into a boring shade of “laser pink”.
The rear tail lamp housings took it even worse (must be the plastic, I guess). They’ve turned all splotchy. I hear that Laser Red is a tricky color to work with, so if I DIY this, I might just paint them black instead (just the housings of course, not the lenses). And if I do end up doing that, I’m thinking about painting (or Plasti-Dipping) the space between them black too, kind of like this.
I still love this car every bit as much as when I bought it. No plans to get rid of it anytime soon. I could go on and on, but this post is already getting long. I’ll share some more about it in the future, but in the meantime, if you have any questions, ask away!