KJ Jones
Brand Manager, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
May 14, 2014
Photos By: KJ Jones

Your editor’s recent acquisition of a very clean, black-on-black, 5.0L/5-speed, 1990 Mustang coupe Mustang set the stage for this report, as addressing one particular “problem (of the very few issues the car has),” presents a great opportunity to detail a tried-and-true, do-it-yourself repair that almost all 1987 to 1993 Mustangs need at some point: Replacing their broken, missing or “clouded/faded/hazed-over” headlight and tail light assemblies.

With the exception of the small percentage of ultra-pristine, Fox ‘Stangs that are still in existence (you know, the super-low-miles LXs and GTs [we recently saw a ’92 GT with 26K on the odometer] that have languished in storage for more than 20 years, and are now beginning to pop up in online classified ads—for just as much as they cost when they were on showroom floors), or Ponies owned by folks who are fortunate enough to keep original light lenses intact (or detailed enough to keep them polished and super clean), it’s very likely that like our new coupe, the ‘Stang you’re pushing is ready for new front, and/or rear lamps.

American Muscle has the simple fix for this problem; OEM-style replacement headlight (PN 94324; $84.99) and taillight (PN 49319; $214.99) sets that bolt in and immediately improve an ’87-’93 ‘Stang’s exterior appearance, as well as increase illumination and visibility (which is most important), for drivers and fellow motorists alike.

Veteran 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords readers remember the name, Saul “The Surgeon” Gutierrez. In addition to being the lead wrench in our 1986 T-top Coupe build, Saul has provided his skill and late-model ‘Stang expertise to many’a 5.0 project. Well, The Surgeon now has a new operating room--his very own—called Gear Driven Automotive, in Northridge, California.

While the remove/replace procedures for the light assemblies can be handled by almost any novice mechanic, we’re thankful to Saul for his great assistance with the process, as it enabled us to capture the highlights. Our 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords banner now hangs proudly on the wall at Gear Driven Automotive, and “The Surgeon” will be helping us with the upgrades on our latest acquisition, which will be featured in a series that will appear exclusively here on Mustang 360.

Here is just one-half of the reason why we’re performing a full light-replacement on our coupe. Faded, damaged tail light lenses and housings like this are pretty common for the older Ponies, especially those that have been in regular/daily service since the day they were purchased.

Starting in the front, Saul unplugs bulbs from their housings, then removes the ‘Stang’s original headlights, inside marker lamps and corner-lights assemblies. A 7/16” wrench and socket are used to remove the nuts that secure these pieces. Extraction starts with the corners, followed by the headlamps and marker lights.

These photos shows the dramatic difference between our LX’s well-aged front light (right), and one of 6 new pieces that are included in American Muscle’s OEM-style headlights set (PN 94324; $84.99). Note the strip of grey silicone running across the top of the stock headlamp. We believe it may have been added by the ‘Stang’s previous owner, to prevent water from leaking through a possible crack in the headlight lens.

The stock headlights are attached to plastic mounting housings that must be reused. A small flat screwdriver is used to gently pry locking clips away, and separate the lights from their frames.

After reinstalling the factory weather strips around each headlight, Saul installs the new front-light pieces in reverse order of the originals’ removal (if your weather strips are beyond reuse, American Muscle offers replacements [PN 94323; $24.99]). Note that the lights should be adjusted for proper alignment before they’re secured for good. Due to the very tight space up top, the lower nut for the driver’s-side marker lamp is the only fastener that must be tightened from below.

Replacing tail lights is also an easy procedure, which again requires only a 7/16” wrench or socket/ratchet combination. After removing the trunk’s rear-panel trim, disconnecting bulbs and removing the nuts that secure each tail light, Saul installs the new replacements (PN 49319; $284.99).

Tail light installation really is a “pop-‘em-in” process. All of the light assemblies are made with studs that are in the correct position, and fit cleanly without any need for modifications.

Our ‘Stang’s future definitely is a lot brighter with the new headlights, and we’ve got several more restorative upgrades planned for the latest Pony to hit KJ’s driveway. Be sure to follow the series right here!

SOURCES

American Muscle (888) 332-7930 www.americanmuscle.com

Gear Driven Automotive (818) 678-6500 www.geardrivenautomotive.com

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