Today It's A Multiple- Award-Winning Show Car That's Truly One Of A Kind. Maybe It's Time For A...
When it comes to '80s Ford vehicles, you'd be hard pressed to find one that's more widely personalized than the venerable Fox Mustang. The thing is, these cars are just as popular now as they ever were. Recently, yours truly pulled into a fast-food joint, and a bunch of kids working there were sizing up a burgundy '80s GT, which was probably made before they were born. Now, if those same kids had been witness to Joe Sofia's car on these pages, that excitement would have no doubt reached an entirely different level.
A Nice Driver
Joe has owned this particular Mustang for 13 years, and if I were to tell you that it's an '84 GT, you'd probably think I'd been smoking something funny. Well it is, or at least it was when he bought it. Back then, his brother Chris owned an '85 GT-carbureted H.O., five-speed, the whole nine yards. "It was actually my brother who got me into this car," Joe says. "He was planning to turn his '85 into a drag car, so I bought a lot of the parts from him. I found this one on a used-car lot, not far from where I live. It was a decent driver. I mean, it wasn't perfect-it needed paint-but it ran good, so I bought it. One thing I liked about the car was the T-tops."
Of course, being a car guy with a spate of FoMoCo creations lining the driveway in the past, including a '67 Cougar, a '71 Mustang Mach 1, and an '80 Capri RS turbo among others, Joe was no stranger to the breed. "My first-ever drive was in a Mustang-a '64½ convertible with a 289 and four-speed," so piloting the '84 wasn't much different. Still, as any car guy would, he decided to play with it, beginning with the paint. "Chris was still painting cars when I bought this one," he says, "so it was given a fresh coat."
Joe also started doing a few mechanical upgrades, including the exhaust and clutch, and he installed a short-throw shifter. However, it sometimes takes a sizeable event to create a truly outstanding show car, and for Joe that happened one Sunday morning while he was on his way to work on his brother's house. "I'm a carpenter by trade, so I agreed to do some work at the house. I was driving along the road when all of a sudden, the inner and outer parts of the hood separated-the outer part flew up and smashed against the windshield header." The ensuing mess resulted in Joe stashing the car while he figured out what to do with it. "It got to the point that I figured that if I wanted to really do something with this car, now was the time to do it."
Thus, over a 13-month period in the late-'90s, Joe stripped the car down to a bare shell and hatched his plan. "To be honest," he says, "I wasn't a huge fan of the '84 front end, so I decided to modernize the car, using the Cervini's Stalker body kit and Stormin' Norman hood, designed for the '87-'93 Mustangs. I actually found it wasn't that hard to update the car to newer specs as nearly everything is interchangeable. In keeping with the look, I also changed the quarter-windows to the newer '87-and-up style."
One thing you'll also notice about this car is the absence of exterior door handles, something you don't see often on a Fox. "When building my '84, I strived to be different," Joe says. "I wanted the car to stand out, and the shaved door handles gave it that custom feel. They've also been really popular at shows."