Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
December 26, 2013

It's typical for us to see a handful of Mustangs on the daily commute. While the majority are S197 and newer, we still see quite a few New Edge Mustangs on the road as well. Surprisingly, we spot a Fox Mustang or two several times a week as well. It is these fellow Fox owners who seem to most engage our Fox the most. From a headlight flash to a head nod or even a wave out the window (since most of us are driving around with broken A/C systems right?), the Fox faithful seem to "get" each other as Mustang owners more than the newer cars. We're sure there's a bunch of reasons why and we can theorize until we run out of pages in the magazine, but Fox owners certainly get a tip of the hat from us for driving their 20-plus year old cars on a daily basis.

It is that daily use, coupled with two decades or more of service, which is why the Fox Mustang's interior is often in a sad state of affairs. It doesn't help matters that the Mustang's interior was a bit of a budget offering to begin with by using lots of hard plastic coupled with cheap cloth and vinyl, but hey, that's what made the car affordable. Remember a 225 hp/300 lb-ft of torque rear drive V-8 performance car for $14,000 that would scare Corvette owners? Yep, that's why we bought one 23 years ago too!

However, with the ravages of time and daily use come brittle plastics, cracks, scratches, and wear that make the interior a forlorn sight. Fortunately, getting your interior back to its original look, feel, and functionality is actually fairly easy with the exploding reproduction market for the Fox Mustang.

When the Fox Mustang was new, many of us were probably bolting on blowers and nitrous kits, adding lowering springs and tubular control arms, and all sorts of aftermarket go-fast bits. Today is a different story, as the Fox Mustang is reaping a whole different market segment with restoration parts. From new upholstery to body moldings and weatherstrip seals, the Fox Mustang's list of restoration parts grows daily. One of the hottest restoration items is interior parts, as the stock plastic just does not hold up (have you looked at your seatbelt guides lately?). A sore spot for '87-'93 owners is often the Mustang's console due to its constant use, from shifting a manual trans to leaning too hard on the armrest to get your wallet in the drive-through. And we can't forget about wedging that soda can between the parking brake handle and passenger seat. Ordering up the required restoration parts from National Parts Depot and spending a Saturday afternoon in the driveway will have your console in as-new condition and ready for many more years of daily driving service.

1. Here’s what we started with—a generally solid console with no major cracks or damage except for the armrest/storage bin top and the ashtray door not staying closed.
2. Our storage bin lid hasn’t latched for a few years now and often rattles/pops open over bumps (we like our Tokicos on “firm”). Often, the push latch’s hook will break off, shown here depressed for release. Unfortunately, this push latch is not reproduced yet.
3. Thankfully, our problem was the plastic console panel under the lid. The forward section where the latch strikes, causing it to move rearward to engage, had broken away with use. To prevent this, always depress the latch button when closing and close the lid gently. Four Phillips head screws retain the lid and the underside panel together with the steel hinge.
4. The actual padded lid has a plastic base and, as you can see here, ours was severely cracked, from years of leaning way too hard on the arm rest. Don't put body weight on the armrest (like grabbing your wallet from your back pocket) and the pad will live a long and happy life.
5. The replacement console panel is made from original Ford tooling and, as such, is a dead ringer for the original—right down to the Ford logo and part number on the back. The only thing missing is the factory section of anti-rattle foam to protect those ‘80s hair band cassette tapes.
6. We're not usually this lucky, but we were successful in VERY carefully removing the original anti-rattle foam in one piece from the original panel and transferring it to our NPD replacement panel. As they say, your mileage may vary.
7. To remove the power mirror switch (if equipped), simply use a blunt trim panel tool or a small jeweler’s type screwdriver to release the switch’s grip on the console lid. Unplug the switch using the same tactics and be careful not to break the wiring connector’s lock tab.
8. To remove the console top panel, you have to engage the parking brake handle as high as you can get it, as seen here. Next, remove the arm rest assembly by removing the four retaining bolts found at the rear through the oval side access plugs. Carefully pry up the black plastic shifter bezel (auto or stick is secured the same) and then remove the four Phillips head screws—two front, two rear. Don’t forget to disconnect the wiring to the cigar lighter port as well.
9. The ash tray repair kit fixes most common problems, such as the ash tray door not closing or coming off its pivot points. Our pivot points were OK, but the door closing spring was bent with a worn-out pivot hole. The reinforcing tab, shown here, fixes the issue and gives plenty of support for the new spring to ensure the door closes properly.
10. Our intention was indeed to paint the console before reassembly, but our work time was cut short by a typical Florida summer rainfall. With the console top panel back in place and a new ashtray insert installed (we were lucky to find the cigar lighter in the glove box), our console is looking the part once again.
11. NPD’s new power mirror switch is an exact reproduction of the original part and has the same switch feel/quality as well. While our switch (left) worked fine, the lettering was long gone and the arrows faded yellow. The new switch will bring our console top panel back to original looks.
12. All together, including the new console armrest lid, and with an ashtray door that will actually close now, our console is ready to serve us for many more years. We’ll break out the paint in a month or two when we know we have a dry weekend to repaint the console’s Titanium gray plastic.
13. While our console top panel was in pretty decent shape, just needing a little help with the ashtray door closing, if your top panel is broken or cracked or the parking brake handle seal is torn or missing, NPD does carry a complete reproduction panel made from original Ford tooling.
14. At the forward end of our console, the trim bezel surrounding the A/C controls had been damaged from a hanging air freshener (we surmised the alcohol in the cardboard melted the plastic it was resting against). NPD offers another reproduction from original Ford tooling as well, meaning the replacement snapped right into place without issues.
15. Short of designing a custom console (or perhaps one day upgrading to an SN-95 dash and console), the Fox Mustang is completely devoid of any way to secure your morning energy drink, soda, or bottled water. A great solution is the Plug and Chuck cup holder. It simply "plugs" into the ash tray opening in the console and holds two beverages. It comes in all Fox interior colors for a great look.
16. We’re happy to see so many reproduction parts available for our beloved Fox Mustangs, but sadly there’s one console part that is yet to be reproduced—the rear seat ash tray bezel. Ours has long had two retaining barbs broken off and every time we get on the go-pedal, the ash tray ends up on the rear floor. Maybe someday.