May 1, 2005

TRX HaustedI own a '79 Mustang Cobra that I've tried to keep stock as much as possible, including the old, increasingly hard-to-find and expensive Michelin TRX radials. Right now, the car rides on 220/55R390 TRX tires. However, since only Michelin makes the V-rated tire for the TRX wheels, the cost and availability have forced me to start looking into different rims and tires for my car. What are my best bets for replacement wheels and tires in cost and compatibility?Donny VoglerVia the Internet

The TRX wheel-and-tire combo works fine for stock street cars but, as you said, finding those tires is only going to get harder. Furthermore, you're limited to only the Michelin tire; nothing else will fit.

No need to fret, though, as I have a solution that will make your car not only drive better than ever, but it will look better, too. The best way to go would be a set of the 16x7-inch pony (or "star") wheels that came standard on all '91-'93 Mustang 5.0s, both GTs and LXs. These wheels have the same four-lug bolt pattern as your car and you can run any 16-inch tire in a variety of sizes. You should be able to find a used set of these wheels in a local auto-trader-type magazine or new from several sources in Mustang Monthly or our sister mag, 5.0 Mustang and Super Fords. Used, you should be able to pick up a set for about $400, maybe less. New, they run around $500-$600. When you buy a set, make sure they come with the center caps with the running-horse logo.

Any decent performance-oriented tire from one of many tire makers will suit. Star wheels came on '91-'93 5.0s with a Goodyear or Michelin 225/55R16 tire at each corner. However, you can easily run a slightly larger- or lower-profile tire on these wheels, such as a 225/50R16 or a 245/50R16. To give your car a nice but subtle rake and a clean overall stance, you could run 225/50s up front and 245/50s out back. However, you couldn't rotate the tires. If you want to be able to rotate and want the same size tires all around, 225/50s or 245/50s would work, though some might think the 245s look a little too big up front. I had a '90 LX convertible and installed a set of star wheels with perfectly sized Toyo Proxes T1S tires in a 235/50ZR16 size. The car was lowered about an inch and it looked great.

Finally, there are tons of 17-inch wheel-and-tire combos you could look into, but that would mean more money and you'd lose that factory look the clean star wheels give you.

Some Outside HelpI think I have some helpful information on the first two questions in the September '04 Late-Model Corral. The first question was titled "Collectible Cobras?" I have a Rio Red '97 Cobra that also has some fading of the signed engine label. I don't believe an aftermarket company such as Latemodel Restoration Supply could reproduce these, since they are authentic signatures of the actual Cobra engine builders. I contacted SVT a few months ago to see if I could get a replacement for my engine since it was built at the end of 1996 and has the ink-signed label. I wanted the aluminum stamped version used on most '97 and all '98 Cobras. They informed me they are not currently offering this to Cobra owners. Maybe if enough of us complain about the ink fading, they might decide to reproduce them for our '96-built engines with the same builders' signatures on our current labels. They could get the engine builders' names from the VIN if they are no longer readable on the label.

The second question was titled "Fog Gets In Your Lights." There's a small company in Florida called LensRenew that sells a kit for $29.99. With it, you sand, buff, and polish your existing headlights to almost new condition. I used this on my '97 Cobra and it made a huge difference. The damage is not on the inside of the headlights, but occurs from oxidation on the outside of the lights. The creator of this kit developed the idea from the same procedure used on commercial airplane windshields to remove scratches and oxidation. This is definitely cheaper than paying nearly $200 for new headlights. It is possible to get moisture in a headlamp if the aeration hole gets clogged. In that case, they probably need to be replaced. Hope these help. Shannon McNamarOklahoma City, OK

Thanks for the valuable information, Shannon. I always encourage readers who have experience with subjects we cover to pass information along. As I've said before, it furthers the main purpose of this column, which is to help readers with anything concerning '79-'05 Mustangs. LensRenew can be reached at 888/779-5367 and on the Web at www.lensrenew.com.

Ghia LessonI'm trying to restore an '80 Mustang Ghia hatchback. I bought the car with all the original parts and only 94,000 miles on the original six-cylinder engine. What does "Ghia" mean? Was it some kind of special package or just a name given to the Mustang? Where can I find the Ghia emblems for the car? There is one on the steering wheel, one on both doors, and one on the rear decklid. Do you know where to look? I have exhausted all of my ideas. Any other info about the '80 Mustang Ghia would be appreciated.Rich SorboEstherville, IA

As I've told other older Fox-body owners, there are several places you can begin your search for obscure parts like those Ghia emblems. Finding them might be a bit of stretch, though, as the GTs (or any 5.0) are likely to be more popular fodder for restorers. Keep an eye on the boneyard, too, as you might find them on another Ghia.

Start with Mustang Parts Specialties in Georgia (www.stangparts.com), Latemodel Restoration Supply in Texas (www.50resto.com), or Performance Parts Inc. (PPI) in Virginia (www.mustangparts.com). Advertisers in Mustang Monthly or our sister magazine, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords, might be able to help. Also try Texas Mustang Parts at www.texasmustang.com and California Mustang at www.cal-mustang.com.

According to The Official Ford Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook by Al Kirschenbaum, "Ford used the Ghia nameplate on luxury-trimmed '79-'81 Mustang coupes and hatchbacks. (Ghia S.p.A is a respected Turin, Italy, coach building works and design styling studio. DeTomaso had controlled Ghia when Ford acquired a major share of DeTomaso in 1970. By 1973, Ford owned 100 percent of Ghia operations, which now functions as a Ford European design subsidiary). At the time of the Fox body's design, Ghia contributed styling themes to the project.

"Ghia models are distinguished by a 'Ghia' badge on each inside door trim panel and a plaque on the right corner of the decklid/liftgate. The Ghia line came with full instrumentation that included an 80-mph speedometer, an 8,000-rpm tach, and dial gauges for oil pressure, water temperature, amperage, and fuel level. For 1980-'81, standard Ghia model features and equipment included color-keyed outside mirrors and body-side moldings, lowback cloth-and-vinyl bucket seats with headrests, an upgraded steering wheel, color-keyed seatbelts, map pockets on the inside door panels, a vanity mirror on the right sun visor, assist bars on the roof above the doors, deep-pile (18-ounce) carpeting, and courtesy lights. Most of these features were also offered on the '79 models. The carriage-style vinyl roof covering offered on 1980-'81 coupes was a popular Ghia option. For 1982, the Ghia option was dropped and the GLX version was introduced to take its place in the Mustang line-up."

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