Tom Wilson
February 1, 2011

Followers of the slow-boat restoration of our '91 LX hatchback know we recently finished having TMI/Classic prototype its Fox sunroof headliner in our car. It came out great, complementing our TMI-sourced leather interior and Chicane Sport Tuning carpet. However, a headliner, carpet, and upholstery a new interior do not complete.

There were plenty of small items still stinking up our LX's cockpit. The old SVO leather shift knob looked dog-bit, with the leather ripped open, thread hanging out, and white underlayment blazing like a searchlight. The clutch and brake-pedal pads were worn clear through. The door map pockets were sagging after 19 years. Like seemingly every Fox these days, the door-pull surrounds were cracked in two, and even the leather-trimmed steering wheel was alternately shiny smooth or lunar-pocked where fingers had worn it down, or rings and fingernails had dug out the trim.

The good news is that aero-nose Foxes such as ours are fully supported by the aftermarket, so searching flea markets and junkyards for trim parts isn't required. In fact, with Latemodel Restoration Supply on the scene, it's pretty much one-stop shopping for sprucing up a Fox interior these days. And that's exactly where we headed, having LRS supply a couple of small boxes of vitally needed resto trim parts.

As we can't photograph ourselves doing the install work, even for jobs as simple as these, GTR Performance was once again drafted for installation duty. It was like a day off for Ricardo Topete at GTR after his steady diet of bolt-ons and supercharger installs. How involved can slipping on new pedal pads be? In fact, the only challenge was R&Ring the steering wheel. Like so many interior parts, you just have to know where to pry with a screwdriver to get the job underway.

Note that getting trim parts to fit just so and matching colors takes more than expected. Much depends on your ultimate goal. If you're sprucing up a weekend-drag or open-track car, you've got better things to worry about than if the map pockets are the exact same shade of gray as the door panels. But those things do matter-a lot-when restoring a Fox for pride-and-joy cruiser status. In that case, count on spending some time making things fit, and err toward replacing everything at the same time for the best color matching. It's not that the new parts are necessarily bad, but after 20 years, the originals have faded or warped out of shape, and dye lots vary no matter how diligent the manufacturer. We also suggest keeping a spray bottle of vinyl cleaner handy when doing this work, as it's an excellent time to clean years of grit from otherwise inaccessible nooks.

Once we had our interior parts installed, our old hatch turned the corner from tired airport car with a few new parts to a newly exciting weekend toy -or in our case, daily driver. Yes, our mechanicals still have 197,000 decently maintained miles on them, but the feel of the car went from social outcast to neat old car!

Besides not taking long, if you're sprucing up a tired daily driver such as ours, the cost is really quite reasonable. Many of the usual cracked plastic bits are ten-dollar parts, so it shouldn't take long to save up for a small-parts spruce-up. And when you're done, you'll agree that the small parts make an amazing difference.

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Matched Setting

With the guts of our '91 LX looking so good, we couldn't help but think about the outside. Original as they come, our car had its share of bump and grinds, faded paint, and stained wheels.

Our first thought was new paint, but a quick stop at the good auto-body shop in town and the from-the-hip $7,000 estimate told us everything we needed to know about that option.

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Next up was a detailer. Thankfully Ford used simple one-step paints back in the Fox days-no clearcoat-and seemingly three quarters of those Foxes were black. Painters and detailers love black because it has more pigment than any other paint. Black goes all the way to the primer, so you can carefully cut off the top layer to expose a much fresher layer beneath. That's what our detailer did for us, starting with a 2,000-grit-sandpaper roughing, followed by buffing with rubbing compound, and finally waxing.

This requires a practiced hand, so don't shop this job strictly on price. A good job will take one man a long day at least, so plan on spending several hundred dollars. Also be aware that only so much that can be done by cutting paint. There is, after all, only so much paint on the car, and not much can be done about crazing or thin spots. The urethane bumpers and other soft spots can also pose problems. They will probably respond best to considerable hand-detailing with rubbing compound and wax.

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If you're bucks down, this job is mainly labor-you can tackle it one fender per night in the garage. Some technique is required, and you really do want a good electric buffer for a job this big, but it's a place to save some money while growing your skills, if you're so inclined.

We're tickled with our results. Sure, there are some swirl marks from the compounding, and we spent another day with our Mother's gear, cleaning up little corners missed by the detailer, waxing the door jambs, hitting the plastic parts with spray protectants, and so on. But the transformation is incredible. The DOA paint is now showroom shiny and smooth-and we can still say it's original.