Collectible Classic: 1984-1993 Ford Mustang LX 5.0

Matt Phenix
Carlos Amoedo

Florida electrician Dave McCoy owns the 1991 LX 5.0 you see here. He bought it new. "I wanted a GT convertible," he says, patting the A-pillar of his silver hatchback, "and I was sitting in one on the dealer lot, and this car was next to it. I asked the sales guy, 'What's the difference between these two?' He replied, 'Well, the LX 5.0 is about 200 pounds lighter, about $6000 cheaper, and a few tenths quicker in the quarter mile.' And I said, 'I'll take it.' " He paid $14,000, including his trade-in, a '71 Oldsmobile 442 that he called "the sled."

Because McCoy has relied more on his work truck than his Mustang these last nineteen years, his LX is a 15,000-mile time machine, essentially showroom-new inside and out. He's changed the battery and the tires; that's it. "It just doesn't get out much," he says.

Naturally, the opportunity to get behind the wheel of such a stupendously unblemished example of semiclassic Mustang-dom was not one to miss. "This is the first time anybody but me has ever driven it," McCoy said as he handed over the key. "In fact, I think this is the first time I've ever even been in the passenger seat."

Output for '91, unchanged since the '87 model year, stood at a healthy 225 hp - not bad for a car that tipped the scales at a modest 3100 pounds. The five-speed shifter's throws are long, and the clutch travel is even longer, but there's a notchy precision to the process of changing gears that encourages a little enthusiastic rowing. Steering, as it was on all Fox-bodied Mustangs, is pretty wishy-washy, and in the curves, the car imparts the disquieting sense that its MacPherson-strut front end has no clue what its live-axle rear end is up to at any given moment. In a straight line, though, the magic shines.

Long stainless-steel exhaust pipes resonate with a sweet baritone as revs rise, and 300 lb-ft of torque, peaking at 3200 rpm, adds ample fury to the sound. When new, cars like McCoy's could sprint to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and run the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 96 mph - respectable, if a far cry from the 5.0-powered 2011 Mustang's 4.6 seconds and 12.9 seconds at 112 mph. Ah, progress.

Of course, unmolested originality has its downsides, and a '91 Mustang isn't a '31 Duesenberg. McCoy is realistic - almost nostalgic - about his pride and joy's rough edges. "The fit and finish on these cars is, well . . . " He shrugs. He points out a broad swath of orange peel along the door and shows me a spot on the fender where a human hair is embedded in the paint. "These are the things guys go nuts for at the shows," he says. "If the paint's too good, it's not original. And originality is what it's all about." And he should know. McCoy's LX has taken first place in thirteen of the last fourteen Mustang shows it's entered.

"This car wasn't supposed to be a show-winner," he says. "It was supposed to be a surf car. I bought the hatchback because my surfboard fit in the back. I planned to use it as a beach runner - sandy feet and wet board shorts, you know?"

"Where would it be today?" I wonder aloud.

"Gone," he says. "Like most of them."

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