KJ Jones
September 1, 2006

Horse Sense: The project T-top coupe still remains nameless. To those who submitted ideas, thanks. We're still looking for a perfect name for our special 'Stang, so drop us a line with a suggestion at 5.0mailbag@primedia.com.

We're quickly learning that staying busy is one of the keys to working on a huge project such as ours-to completely Fox Rod a seriously rare '86 Mustang in eight months or less. The mission isn't impossible by any means. But even when the car is stuck in the body shop or chassis shop and you think your world is on hold because of it, think again. Remember-there's always something you can do for the greater good of your project.

We decided to handle some of the coupe's interior while it was still at Chris Alston's Chassisworks. Although the crew at Chassisworks did our rollcage in three days (see "Cage Match," July '06, p. 176), we decided to let them keep the car for three additional weeks and use it as a live model of sorts for a new line of hardcore rear suspension pieces for Fox 'Stangs. Look for more on the new chassis stuff in a later installment of this build series.

We aren't sure what year 'Stang these original seats come from. The car is an '86, but the seats, especially the front pair, appear to be from a later year. Because of their poor condition, the fronts were discarded before we thought about finding a part number.

To bring this car's appearance back to the form of a street/strip Mustang of days gone by, we're dedicated to trying to maintain most of the OG look and feel both inside and out. Yes, there are some aftermarket interior pieces for Fox 'Stangs that are great alternatives to OEM equipment, and we do plan to use and showcase them in our car wherever there's a good fit. But when considering the options for the car's seating setup, "stock" won out over a wealth of possible aftermarket options. We thought about going with true racing-style seats, which tend to be on the hard side. But we had 1,500 miles to cover in five days and didn't want to hear Editor Turner's complaints about the uncomfortable seats-the swing-out bars on the 'cage are another product of our positive thinking. So we decided that a set of good old '90 LX Gray-tweed Sport seats we already had would be the best move. Unfortunately, this car wasn't already set up with the fabled gray front seats with red piping and halo headrests that most hatchback Mustang GTs were blessed with in 1986, but the popular high-back buckets of the '87-'93 cars are comfortable and look good.

After a thorough inspection of the '90 buckets, we realized they wouldn't be road ready with just a simple shampoo or detail. The seats had been sitting around for ages, both indoors and outside in the elements, and they had stains of unknown origin or content. That wasn't a comforting thought when we put the whole Drag Week concept into perspective.

We salvaged the rear seat and will give it a newer look with the gray tweed upholstery material from Latemodel Restoration Supply.

With a call to Latemodel Restoration Supply, we had a complete front and rear cloth-seat upholstery kit (PN LRS-1UPSP/Sport seats, gray tweed; $399.95) headed our way, along with several other interior and exterior resto parts we needed for completing the reincarnation of our 'Stang. Latemodel Restoration Supply carries full upholstery kits for Mustangs of all years, in cloth ('83-'93), vinyl ('83-'04), and leather ('83-'04), and all interior styles (sport, standard, or convertible).

Performing seat surgery can be an at-home project that doesn't require exotic tools other than hog-ring pliers and a good stapler. We used an air stapler to secure the heavy-duty steel staples supplied with the kit. The process will test your patience, as the seat material requires a lot of stretching and shaping to achieve a perfect fit and appearance. Our friend Oscar Barrera Sr., of Classic Carz and Hot Rods in Canoga Park, California, helped us with this leg of our project, with assistance from his son Oscar Jr.

Oscar Sr. is a wizard when it comes to auto upholstery-both custom and factory stock-and he helped us achieve the look and feel we wanted. With a long trip ahead of us in September and thousands of miles to drive after our Drag Week adventure, comfort is essential. It's also important to keep Tech Editor KJ Jones' tail planted in one place whenever he takes the T-top coupe to the track. Sure, aftermarket racing seats are significantly lighter, but this is how we wanted to set up our ride.

Read on to see how Oscar Sr. works his magic on our high-backs, rejuvenating the seats with fresh, new covers from Latemodel Restoration Supply and a few of his own trade secrets.

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