Looking at cars and just dont know


Feb 18, 2020
Ok looking at late 80s fox bodies. And really trying to determine a way forward. Kind of left with two options maybe some input would help and some ball park figures.

Option One- 87 GT with 80k miles. Exterior looks great no issues or anything to address. Interior just needs to be cleaned for the most part might need some small touching up. Motor wise runs great but its original, only upgrades is exhaust and CAI, small things. My goal would be to get the car up around 300-350hp. To accomplish this would a manifold, injectors and headers get there? If not what parts and what would be the estimated cost to get there both in parts and labor. The other issue is there is no known clutch replacement or tranny work on this, guy has a new clutch in the box, which lends me to beleive he was wanting to upgrade or knows its on its way out, what would a clutch replacement cost?

Option two- 88 GT with over 100k on the car. 1200 miles on a rebuilt 347 stroker, cam, heads, manifold, injectors. Interior wise same as the other car, cleaning and small fixes. Paint is the issue with this one. Doesnt look to have rust or major issues. Paint isnt to bad, just kind of a tired 80s paint job with a few areas where it flaked off, but needless to say needs paint. calling around Id be looking at around 4-5k paint. From the looks of it could probably wax, touch up, PDR guy to maybe get it through till i saved up for paint.

Cost difference between the two is probably 1500 or so, with the option 1 costing more. Is the 88 more desirable then an 87 for any reason. For sake of the arguement lets assume the cars in general beyond the issues pointed are relatively the same.

You never know what you dont know. Option two assuming everything is fine I would be looking at a 4-5k investment. Option 1 manifolds, injectors, and, and headers parts alone Im probably 1500-2 into it, not sure that gets me at the desired end state, plus might be looking at the clutch.
  • Sponsors (?)

Guess to give you better info option 2 has the following done mechanically: 347 stroker, dart 202 heads, xcam, CAI, typhoon manifold, 75mm throttle body, 1.7 lifters, 30 pound injectors, bbk headers, bored 30 over, 4.10 rear end, mass air flow upgrade, and msd ignition.

Question with this set up what is horse power and torque guess, owner can only guess of about 350hp???
I personally hate cars needing bodywork. They can snowball out of control really quick. At the same time, so can engine builds. It’s hard to suggest one over the other without seeing pics of the cars to know the overall condition.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I personally hate cars needing bodywork. They can snowball out of control really quick. At the same time, so can engine builds. It’s hard to suggest one over the other without seeing pics of the cars to know the overall condition.
Yeah i know. pictures and videos I have are what they are. Seems like with houses and cars pics are always better than reality, but with that said nothing in the pics I have would show anything to alarming other than what I already described. Just trying to get an idea on engine builds as I have rough cost on paint for the one.
Its all about the paint to me . Just like he said. If Im going to spend any more than $3,500 or more , and Im not happy with the way It looks Im not going to be happy spending 2 or 3 grand on the rest. Unless you are going to stick it in the garage and hold it to slowly build. Like the guys on this site that are doing some unbelievable work on their garage builds.
'87's & '88's are identical.
Assume both have original T-5 manuals?
I'm upgrading mine now; nothing wrong with it, just want to do it, since it's the weakest part of the drive train & the only thing I could never do myself.
'87-'88 T-5's are rated at 265 lb-ft.; the 1990 saw an increase to 300 lb-ft.
1st gear is very tall, 3.35, later ones are 2.95, the former not a good match to the current rear gears, 3.55. Original diff gears were 2.73.
New WC T5 or "custom, race ready" T5 is $2k. The custom T5 is 50% stronger than the "off the shelf" one, 500 hp & 400+ lb-ft.
Last edited:
Well, a 306 crate engine from speedway is 4200$, roller cam and aluminum heads included with a warranty.
I think you will be hard pressed to have a machine shop do a short block and then you buy the heads,cam and lifters for less $
I don't think you can get 300-350 hp with just manifold, injectors and headers. You'll need heads, too.
If you're not doing the work yourself, labor rates vary widely & you probably should not be considering Option 1.
Option 2 likely already makes the power you want. I think you're looking at $5k with either option.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I would say check out both in person first... First option sounds good but your going to need to spend allot more then $1500 to get close to your goal.

First option seems nice, a little too nice for me personally because I have to modify everything I drive but if you really planned on dumping a bunch of money into the car to meet your goal then why not.

Second option would probably be the way I personally would go just because it already has a bunch of good parts on it and could probably negotiate the price down more so then the first option. That is only if the car is rust free, has subframe connectors and seller has receipts to prove the work. I've never been worried about driving a car with bad paint as long as it run others good at stop lights
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I like the first option because I would have fewer bad modifications to worry about, and hopefully less rust!
But on the other hand, I did rescue my current Mustang from some stock appearing race class. That might be affecting my answer, as the owners went to racing a vintage Barracuda and did not know enough about EFI. But they knew a lot about porting stock looking parts or were dang lucky.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I would also stick with the cleaner, unmolested, lower mileage car. That’s what I did. And 20+ years later I have exactly what I wanted. A beautiful 500hp+ Fox Body that runs and drives better than new. I’m not saying you have to take your build to that level, but it was nice to start with a clean car that was a blank slate for whatever I wanted to do with it. Also, I knew since mine was totally stock, I mean even the air silencer was still intact, that it probably wasn’t driven too hard. Option number 2 with a replacement engine and several other modifications, as well as the lack luster paint and such, probably hasn’t seen as easy a life as option 1. Just my .02
  • Agree
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
I’m a noob to the fox body world but one thing that comes to mind is whether you actually need to drive the car...will you actually be planning/needing to drive it from when you buy it?

When I picked up my 88 a few weeks back it helped that the engine was mostly stock and seemed to run fine when I checked it out in person. The body has some imperfections but I wanted to be able to drive the car whenever at least at first. It didn't need to look perfect so I was willing to compromise a little on exterior stuff.
The closer to stock, the better, it means its less likely to have been beat to death....but there is no way you are hitting 300HP off of headers and an intake(injectors wont do anything, they aren't holding you back)
Closer to stock, the better. That way you can perform mods up to your standards. Often times, guy modify a car badly or incorrectly and it runs terribly and they lose interest and off-load it. All those shiny parts look great in a for-sale ad but are meaningless if the car runs like poo and has issues caused by poor workmanship.

My car was 100% stock when i bought it. Makes it easier to modify and i know if something is wrong, there's only one person to blame.
  • Agree
Reactions: 1 user
Paint, chassis and rust free are the priorities.
The rest is easily fixable.
Modding the car isn't as simple as adding hp. The suspension, chassis and brakes are mediocre at best.
The wiser move is to get the car ready for an extra 100hp by upgrading brakes and the suspension, before you start digging into the engine.

And for the record, on a naturally aspirated pushrod 302, all the power is in the heads. Without a quality set, nothing else is really worth it.
A good heads/cam/intake setup complete and running is most likely about a $3500 affair with new parts.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
My take on your options...

Option 1: Would be a great starting point for what you want. You could drive and enjoy from day one with a nice car. Upgrade as you can and work your way up to your goal (not as hard as you may think).

Option 2: Your motor (if all mods are good and nothing is needed) is already where you want it. Body and paint if you are getting a shop to do it all will be at least 4-5k for a very good to excellent job (disassemble as much as possible before painting).

Personally I would do Option 1 because you will not inherit others mechanical mistakes/learns/problems. You are in control of what you get. If you are on a budget for the build go to the wreckers and find a 5.0 Explorer, get the heads and intakes and throttle body ($300-500), upgrade the valve springs($100-150) and just a general cleaning on the heads (you could have a machine shop check or upgrade the seats/guides but if heads are generally clean you could do without - for now). Find a set of shortie tubular headers used ($50-100). Change to a 3G alternator and electric fan (I used a Ford Contour dual speed fan). The fan will free up 15-20hp, with the rest you should be 300+ hp at the crank with stock cam, closer to 350 hp with a cam. It won't be the flashiest set up but with some parts hunting you should be able to get to 300 hp for less than $1000 in parts.

My build has happened to 2 phases (so far). Phase 1 was stock longblock, smoothed exhaust ports in E7 heads with 1.7rr's, stock cam, Explorer intakes and 65mm TB, 73mm C&L mass air, Mac headers, 2.5" catted full exhaust, electric fan and 3G alternator. Power was close to 300 hp at crank (I estimate 280-300).

Phase 2 - found a used longblock with 3bar GT40's with 1.7rr's and Ecam for $1000 CDN. Sold the Ecam and put a Crower 15512 in. Reused intakes, headers and exhaust. Switched to 70mm TB and EGR, 76mm C&L mass air, still stock Explorer 19lb injectors (I have a set of 24s to put in). My estimate now is 330-360hp at the crank.

I have not had it dyno'd or a tune done on either set up (I know it would help). But 300-350 can be had on a budget pretty easily with some hunting for parts.

Long story short, I would go for the more stock and cleaner car and be in control of the parts and how they are installed. Best of luck in your search.
Option 3 maybe? Not knocking Foxes(I have owned 3). Since you cannot do the work yourself have you considered taking that 4-5k and purchase price money and getting an '05-'09 GT? Low 13's, better handling, mileage, seats, etc etc etc.