March 1, 2005

Big And TallI have an '89 Mustang LX hatchback with a 2.3L four-cylinder and I'm wondering if there is a way to make the driver-seat move back farther (much farther). I'd like to move it so the seatback touches the bottom cushion of the rear seat since I'm almost 7 feet tall and could use the legroom. Also, what's the horsepower rating for the 2.3L engine?Jason GroverVia the Internet

I did a story on this subject, and the solution was a pair of metal track extenders that remounted the seat farther back. But they were for SN-95 ('94-and-newer) Mustangs and, unfortunately, the company is no longer in business. You might be able to make a pair of your own, or possibly drill holes in the floor to remount the seat farther back and support the seat with blocks of wood. You'd have to use longer studs to run through the wood. Perhaps a local upholstery shop could help, especially one that does custom work.

After looking around on the Internet, I found a few figures for horsepower on your car. There isn't much info for four-cylinder Foxes, unless it's an SVO. Apparently, '90 and earlier cars were rated at 88 hp. I also read, "In 1991, the Ford Mustang four-cylinder engine gained two spark plugs per cylinder and 15 horsepower and was now rated at 105." That would mean your car makes 90 hp; so 88 or 90, pretty close either way. If anyone has more concrete info on four-cylinder Fox-body cars, please write.

T5 to AODI acquired an '83 Mustang GT last year as a project car. It has a five-speed now, but I want to convert it to an automatic. Which automatic trans and associated parts will I need if I decide to restomod this car? It will just be a street car, so nothing super-radical is necessary.Dan KostushVia the Internet

On street cars, people usually switch from an automatic to a manual. But on drag cars, it isn't uncommon to switch from a stick to a slush box. Either way, this is a popular swap.

Your obvious choice for the transmission would be an AOD. This four-speed automatic overdrive gearbox and its updated derivatives (AOD-E, 4R70W, and so on) have been standard in all Mustangs for at least the past 20 years. You could also go with a C4 (a popular choice for the more serious street/strip crowd), but you wouldn't have the overdrive Fourth gear that makes highway cruising more pleasant.

Besides the trans, you'll need an auto-trans crossmember, a flexplate, a throttle-valve (TV) cable, a torque converter, and a shifter, among other things. Make it easy and try to gather all the parts from one place. Locate a donor car with everything in place or procure the parts from a salvage yard in a complete package. Our trusty standby for the latter is Mustang Parts Specialties in Georgia; it has complete five-speed-to-automatic conversions available. Call 770/867-2644 or visit Another good source for AOD-related bits is Windsor Fox Performance Engineering: 760/946-3835 or

Will Going Big Cause Trouble?I have an '01 Mustang GT convertible with an automatic, ABS, and optional traction control, and I'd like to fill up the wheelwells with some larger rolling stock. Would the ABS and traction control be affected with a larger-diameter tire? I'm going to have the same size wheel and tire on all four corners.Steve SiekerNorth Bend, WA

I've never heard of anyone having a problem by changing wheel and tire sizes on SN-95 Mustangs equipped like yours. I switched to 18-inch wheels and tires on my '01 Mustang GT and haven't had any problems, so I think you'll likely be Ok.

A GT40 5.0?I recently bought an '88 Mustang GT and I'm having a problem understanding some parts of the VIN. The seller said the car was a "GT40" but I can't find any reference to that in any of my Mustang reference books. The VIN says it's a GT hatchback, but the engine code of "E" doesn't show in any of my reference books. I called a Ford information line and was told a 1988 E-code was, of course, the 5.0 EFI V-8. They also said all records at Ford are purged after 10 years and the 1988 records are gone. Do you have any information on a GT40 kit or engine set, or any information about a 1988 engine code of E?LeRoy Wilcox Via e-mail

Anyone is welcome to correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know there is no such thing as what you're talking about. It sounds as though the seller hyped something that doesn't exist. The '86-'93 EFI 5.0s were all the same 5.0 engine, as it was the one alternative over a four-cylinder Mustang. Other than running changes like converting to mass-air in 1989 from speed density (1988 for California cars), the change to better cylinder heads in 1987, and some allegedly minor cam-profile changes over the years, an '86-'93 Mustang 5.0 is a Mustang 5.0, period. There were no 5.0 "options" that would make one 5.0 more special than another, and I've never heard of a GT40 package offered by the factory.

The only exception is, of course, the '93 Cobra. It was the only Fox 5.0 Mustang that was a "step beyond" compared to all other EFI 5.0s. Maybe you're confused because its engine came with several upgraded parts, including a set of "GT-40" (cast iron) cylinder heads.

Since the '93 Cobra was made five years after the '88s, I'm fairly sure I'm correct about all other 5.0s. There is a GT-40 package offered by Ford Racing Performance Parts, but that's for aftermarket and not part of a factory offering. We did a story on the GT-40 package in our April 2003 issue.

According to the Mustang Red Book by Peter Sessler, the engine code for '86-'90 5.0s is "M," and the code for '91-'93 5.0s is "E." Assuming your car is indeed an '88, something might be amiss with your VIN if the Sessler book is correct. If it's wrong, the E-code is just that: a code for the 5.0L engine. This might shed some light, but could also raise more questions.

Based on two other sources of information (my '88 5.0 convertible and another book), there's a chance the code information in the Sessler book is a misprint. The VIN on my car clearly shows an "E" as the 8th character in the VIN (see photo), not an "M."

The Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook by Al Kirschenbaum has a V-8 engine codes chart, and it jibes with our cars by stating the code for '88-'93 5.0s is "E," and "M" for '85-'87 5.0s. Your car is simply like all the other legions of 5.0s out there with the code E, but there's nothing wrong with that. By the way, according to both books, the engine code for the '93 Cobra is "D," which, of course, indicates its unique engine.

Defroster TechI believe I may have a solution to the problem described by someone awhile back. The HVAC controls on his car were stuck in the defrost position. I have an '85 coupe, an '86 coupe, and an '86 convertible. Two of my cars have had the same problem. The HVAC control in these cars is vacuum-operated, and Ford designed the HVAC control to rest on "defrost" in the event of vacuum loss. So if there's a problem, you still have the most necessary function for inclement weather.

His problem is most likely a vacuum leak before the line reaches the control head. The worst case scenario is what was wrong with my '85: a crack in the back of the control head, requiring replacement.William McGinniMarietta, GA

Send your '79-'05 Mustang questions to: Late-Model Corral, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619, or e-mail to with "Late-Model Corral" in the subject line. Include your name, city, and state in all letters and e-mails.