October 1, 2005

Synthetic In The Mach?I have a low-mileage '04 Mach 1 and I'm planning to use synthetic oil in it. Should I change the factory oil right away or wait for the first oil change to switch? Should I use a factory oil filter or aftermarket?Mike PizzatSavannah, GA

I don't think it would be a problem to use the oil that came in the car for the first 2,000-3,000 miles before switching to synthetic. Although the Ford-recommended interval is 5,000 miles, some people believe it's better to do the first change sooner.

I bought a new '01 Bullitt four years ago, and I want to preserve and care for it the same way you want to maintain your Mach 1. I drove the car about 3,000 miles with the factory-filled oil. Then I took it to the dealership where I bought the car and got a free first oil change with conventional oil. Then 5,000 miles later, I switched to Mobil 1 and plan to stay with it. So, I'd say waiting for the first oil change to switch is fine.

Oil filters are like tissue paper: They do their job well and it's difficult to recommend one over another. I use either the Motorcraft factory filter you mentioned or a Fram. I often let price decide my choice from among the name-brand aftermarket filters.

V-6 BoosterI'm thinking about purchasing a V-6 Mustang, most likely a '96 that caught my eye. I'm only 17, so I'm trying to avoid the likely higher insurance premiums for a GT model with a V-8. However, I want a little more power under my foot. I was wondering if the X-pipes I've heard so much about would work well with a V-6.

Of course, I want to put a dual exhaust system on the car. If it does work, how much power gain can I expect over an H-pipe? Also, do you have any bolt-on tips for a kid who wants a little more power, besides the things I already have in mind like a K&N filter, underdrive pulleys, and headers?Jake TretterVia the Internet

I've been writing this column for almost four years, and in that time I've replied to several owners of V-6 Mustangs who are looking to enhance power output and the overall performance of their cars. I mention this because I like to think my past replies are a good resource for V-6 owners. To start, take a look at the letters in Late-Model Corral over the past few years. You'll find plenty of info that will steer you in the right direction.

In general, you're already on the right track. A K&N air filter, pulleys, and headers are good upgrades for any Mustang. Consider a gear-ratio change to a lower (higher numerically) ratio to improve off-the-line acceleration in your car. Although V-6 Mustangs come with a 7.5-inch rearend, the current Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog (www.fordracingparts.com) lists 3.45 and 3.73 gear ratios for that axle. Although pricey, a supercharger, available from Vortech and ATI/ProCharger, is probably the ultimate upgrade for a V-6 street car.

As for the X-pipe/H-pipe quandary, either will offer similar improvements in a stock V-6 Mustang. It's best to go with a complete exhaust system from one company. With a V-6 car, however, you're more limited to what's offered compared to a V-8 GT or Cobra. In your case, either an H- or an X-pipe would be an improvement, especially when combined with a dual exhaust system. With a pipe of some sort and an exhaust system, I believe it would be worth somewhere between 10 and 20 hp at the flywheel or about 7-15 hp at the rear wheels measured on a chassis dyno. You'd definitely feel the improvement throughout the operating range of the engine.

Check out what's available for your car from the following companies: Bassani, Borla, DynoMax, Edelbrock, Flowmaster, Ford Racing, Hedman, Hooker, MAC, Magnaflow, Pacesetter, Spin Tech, and Steeda.

The '94-'98 Mustangs are good choices, but if you can swing it, a '99 or newer would be better because the V-6 was significantly improved, making 190 hp. Of course, there's always that can't-go-wrong standby: a Fox 5.0. An '89-'93 5.0 is reasonably priced and tough to beat. You might be surprised when it comes time to buy insurance. An '89 V-8 Mustang (especially an LX-you could say "no" when the company asks if the car is a GT) might be cheaper to insure than a '96 V-6 Mustang. Just ask your insurance company.

Restoring Square-Light SeatsI own an '86 GT convertible that's only one of 165 cars made in black with a Canyon Red interior, and I'm interested in finding out what I need to do to restore the seats. I just did an interior restoration and it wasn't easy. The main problem was finding the right seat material. Some parts houses carry seat covers they buy from cover manufacturers. The seat covers are stitched nicely and are made well, but in my experience, the colors and texture didn't seem to match like the original covers. They were made to order, and once you get them, you own them-no returns allowed.

I ended up having a local upholstery shop match my material to their fabric samples and they came up with three code numbers for the three fabrics I needed. But my local shop's supplier could only get the Canyon Red for the outer edges and backs of the seats.

Looking in Hemmings Motor News, I found a company in Columbus, Michigan, called Original Auto Interiors. It had the gray piping and textured Canyon Red I needed for the inner sections of the seats. By the time I ordered the material and had my shop stitch it all up, I had spent over $1,000, but it was only a little bit more than if I had gone through less obscure channels, and the seats wouldn't look 100 percent original as they do now.

I would recommend people research the restoration of '85-'86 GT seats since parts for these cars can be hard to find. I installed a new dashpad and carpet, and restored the console. I hope this is a help to anyone undertaking this kind of project. Readers can e-mail me for info.Chris Hansenredlordamazon@aol.com

Thanks for the info. Helping people with these seemingly murky issues is one of our main goals. Seat upholstery for Fox Mustangs is becoming more available these days, but it's still helpful to know how you got your seats exactly how you wanted them.

A Real GTS?I have a '96 Mustang GT (VIN 1FALP42X2TF126085) with a 4.6-liter V-8. I've owned it since October 2000 and since then I've noticed little things that are confusing me. Everywhere I look the engine code is W in the VIN, while mine is code X. As for options, there are none-no power anything and no fog lights. I talked to a Ford salesman and they've never heard of a GT without fog lights (although the previous owner did install round aftermarket fog lights).

Here is the data plate information on my car. Exterior paint: PS; DSO: 47; Body: GT2; BRK: 1; MLDG: CC; Int. Trim: Z2. R: M. Build Date: 11/95.Shane MankinsJohnstown, OH

After looking at the interior photo of your car and seeing it has crank (non-power) windows, I suspected it was a little-known model that's called the GTS. Ford quietly began making these cars in 1995 and it was a way for an SN-95 version of a 5.0 LX to be built. After giving your VIN and data-plate info to someone who knows about these cars, he confirmed you have a GTS, which is essentially a decontented Mustang GT. These are great cars because, among other things, their GTS status sort of makes them a collectible.

The W-coded engines were used for export to Japan and are rare, with only 431 made in a P42W car. In 1996, the new 4.6L engine was given the engine code X and still uses that today. A total of 6,186 (4,848 were five-speeds) '96 GTS models were made. On November 2, 1995, 46 GTSs were built and your car (VIN 126085) was the seventh car made that day. The five-speed/PS/Z2 combo, like your GTS, is one of 342. The GT2 Body code is for GTS.

Send your '79-'05 Mustang questions to: Late-Model Corral, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619, or e-mail to mustang.monthly@primedia.com