Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
July 10, 2014

Twenty-one years after the Fox Mustang galloped off the production line for the last time, the car is still an inspiration to many.

In its heyday, the Fox captured the minds of young car enthusiasts with its combination of affordability and performance potential. That magic recipe turned the corner for Ford performance. No longer was Brand X the only game in town for aftermarket support. The Fox 5.0 created its own industry, and that legacy lives on today with the incredible modern Mustangs we enjoy.

Yet, even as the Fox is old and slow compared to its younger relatives, it still serves as a source of joy for many of its loyal fans. Across parking lots at car shows and in Internet message boards, the Fox still has an incredible following.

“…It was an exhausting effort and a monumental task to pull off. We built one heck of a car and actually met the deadline without killing one another, which is a testament to the members of Southeastern Foxbodies,” Troy said. “This was a rewarding project for our club on so many levels, and it shows what the Mustang community is capable of. People keep asking us if we will do another one. I’ll never say never, but if we do, I’m pretty sure I’ll just buy a ticket and let someone else run point.”

One such loyal group is the crew at the Southeastern Foxbodies club. Formed in 2001, this club is made up of some of the most passionate Fox Mustang fans that we have run across. From hosting the massive Fox cruise at Mustang Week to putting together this impressive charity Fox, the club keeps the love for Fox Mustangs alive. It was on that club’s website (www.sefb.net) that inspiration transformed into perspiration and admiration.

"Save A Fox is an idea that came about in early 2012 when one member posted on the club forum: 'We all have so many spare parts for these cars… I bet we have enough to build a complete car,’" explained Troy Raby. "That tongue and cheek statement evolved into the desire for our club to build a Fox and raffle it off for charity."

It was a great idea, but how often do you and your friends come up with a great idea, talk it all out, and never make good on the plan? Well, that was never a danger with the dedicated members of this club. Their passion for the Fox is contagious, and they quickly took the idea and went to work turning it into a reality.

"A project committee was formed by six SEFB members. The committee brainstormed and put pen to paper rather quickly with the basic structure of the overall project. Then we let the club determine the direction the project would take. We held voting on all aspects of the build, from motor, to paint, to interior, and beyond. The finished product would be exactly what the club wanted, and it would capture the essence of the Fox driving experience."

Like its outward appearance, the inside of Save A Fox takes the factory look and tastefully enhances it. A Florida 5.0 cluster filled with Auto Meter’s finest replaces the stock gauges. Meanwhile, TMI Products revamped the stock seats with its Cobra-style foam and new upholstery and supplied the custom door panels, while Redline Goods supplied the suede accents on the dashpad, shift boot, and armrest cover. The fresh carpet, floormats, and Dynamat underneath came to the car via CJ Pony Parts. In all, the result is quiet and classy. Underneath the factory floorpan, Stifflers subframe connectors keep the creaks at bay, and the company’s crossmember keeps the Latemodel Restoration-supplied Z-spec T-5 five-speed at home.
There’s plenty of cargo to hide under the cargo cover, as the Save A Fox is loaded up with a Kicker amp and subwoofer, along with a trunk-mounted battery. It’s a nice balance of fun and function.

Not only would the car celebrate the Fox, but the resulting raffle would benefit three worthy charities—the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (www.jdrf.org), The Victory Junction Gang Camp (www.victoryjunction.org), and Savannah Drive, which benefitted an 8-year-old girl fighting Leukemia. The club would divide the raffle monies evenly between these three beneficiaries.

Long before the car could be raffled, the club had to find a car and save it. That began when Sam Poteat, the owner of Out To Pasture Pony Parts in Kannapolis, North Carolina, donated a well-worn ’89 LX to the cause. It was relatively straight and rust free, but it did suffer from pervasive hail damage and the commonplace relocation of the factory radiator support caused by a front-end collision. Still, it was a running four-cylinder Mustang, and the Save A Fox project had its start. From there the club was on a mission. They stripped the car to a shell, put it on a rotisserie, and hauled it to Mustang Week in 2012 to announce the project and start promoting the raffle. With tickets for sale and a build schedule set, they decided to hold the raffle drawing a year later at Mustang Week 2013.

"We created a 'parts wanted’ list and the members responded, donating a number of new and used parts. Knowing the grand prize needed to be something special, stepping up the safety, performance, and aesthetic portions of the build would require outside support," Troy confessed. "We reached out to the Mustang aftermarket community and the response was overwhelming…"

Simple and effective is the naturally aspirated combination under the hood. Assembled by Kannapolis Engine Service in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the rebuilt roller 351W is topped by 185cc Trick Flow Twisted Wedge heads and a Trick Flow R intake breathing through an Accufab 75mm throttle body and a Pro-M 80mm mass air sensor. Sporting 9.4:1 compression, KES left some room for the built Windsor to accept boost should the new owner chose to add more power. Even NA, the combo put down 328 horsepower to the feet.

Even with all the support the project received, it needed a home base. The plan was for various members of the club to pitch in on the build, but every build needs a shop. Fortunately, this project found a roof under a shop, but not just any shop. No, this outfit not only offered a roof, equipment, and parts to further the cause, its owner offered a near limitless fountain of knowledge about the Fox breed. The shop? Fox Mustang Restoration in Locust, North Carolina.

"My favorite part of building the Save A Fox was the connection that I made with the Southeastern Foxbodies members and seeing them all come together for this project. It was really amazing to have what seemed like an army of people in my shop who were willing to work on this project, even if they had no prior experience," said Matt Highley of Fox Mustang Restoration. "I would have several stations of mini-projects going on at once; I would show one station what needed to be done, and then move over to the next station and direct them. Before I knew it, we had 15-20 people working on this thing at once. I enjoy teaching people about Foxes and this project gave me the opportunity to do that."

Of course, building this sort of car in a year’s time required more than just the generosity of the club members. They needed some professional help to complete some of the major segments. Certainly Matt’s contribution of over 150 hours of labor can’t be overlooked, but the club also turned to Toyota West Collision Center to install the Scott Rod panels and Cervini’s hood, and then apply a mile-deep paint job in a modern Ford color, Deep Impact Blue. Meanwhile, Kannapolis Engine Service turned a $50 351 block donated by a club member into a stout, naturally aspirated small-block cranking out 328 horsepower and 359 lb-ft of torque at the feet.