Jim Smart
February 6, 2012
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

Marshall Layton was an 11-year-old elementary school student in Ontario, Canada, when he spotted his first Fox-body Mustang in the fall of 1978. The new ’79 Ghia coupe, with 5.0L badging and TRX metric wheels, was parked in a driveway next to his school. At that point, he knew he wanted one, although, ironically, Marshall’s first Mustang wasn’t a Fox-body. Instead, at age 15 he bought a ’65 K-code hardtop, a car he would own for a long time. However, he still wanted a Fox-body.

During the 1980s, Marshall read the enthusiast magazines with great interest because Ford had something cool, lightweight, and affordable in the works—the LX 5.0L coupe, a low-buck, high-performance notchback with the Mustang’s first fuel-injected 5.0L HO. It would become popular with drag racers and police alike because it was light, fast, affordable, and easily modified. Marshall let his father know how badly he wanted an LX 5.0L notchback, but that wish wasn’t in the cards. Marshall wound up with a used ’68 Cougar.

Through the years, Marshall never forgot his desire to own an LX 5.0L coupe, although he realized that finding a good one 22 years later was a long-shot. Ford produced just 2,825 of them for ’86, with many becoming well-used police cars or clapped-out drag racers. Nonetheless, he set out to find one, checking the dry American southwest and the California coast for an original, unmolested ’86 LX 5.0L notchback.

In 2008, Marshall had almost given up on his search when dumb luck led him to an 80,500-kilometer (50,000-mile) LX notchback in his native Ontario. It was in showroom condition.

Marshall would learn that the Dark Gray Metallic Fox-body was originally ordered by Ray Harkness of Dunnville, Ontario, and scheduled for assembly at Ford’s Dearborn assembly plant on July 22, 1986. Harkness took delivery at Ed Learn Ford in St. Catherines on August 1. Generally, 5.0L coupes weren’t put away and saved, but Harkness understood the LX’s unique nature. He pampered his daily driver and never exposed it to Canada’s salt-covered winter roads, keeping the coupe for 19 years before selling it in 2005.

Marshall would find this Mustang just 40 minutes from his home after it had briefly passed through two owners. He was all too happy to plunk down the cash. What Marshall loved most about this car was its simplicity—no air conditioning, standard interior, AM/FM stereo radio, five-speed manual transmission, 2.73:1 Traction-Lok, and 10-hole aluminum wheels (originally wrapped in Goodyear Gatorbacks but currently equipped with BFGoodrich Radial T/As).

Today, Marshall drives his LX 5.0L to events near and far. Every June, there’s a pilgrimage to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the Ford Nationals, which means Marshall isn’t afraid to go the distance to show off his LX. Key is pampering the car when he gets home, keeping it in a dry garage to shut out summer heat and winter cold.

Although you might be inclined to call Marshall’s LX a low-mileage original, it isn’t a low-mileage car. It wasn’t bought new and put away for safekeeping. Instead, it was driven regularly, kept in a dry garage, and maintained in pristine condition, which proves you can keep a new Mustang in like-new condition given liberal amounts of elbow grease. Marshall continues that tradition of stewardship while both driving the car and remaining faithful to its past. MM

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