Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
May 1, 2008
Photos By: Brian Bohnsack, Andrew Sivori
We found this Pony for sale on the side of the road. At first, it looked like a clean car. Upon further inspection, it was missing the exhaust from the converters back. It also had a red interior, which can be a resale nightmare.

Unfortunately, not everyone's first car is a mustang. Many of our first rides are based on our parent's recommendations or are hand-me-downs. Not every new driver is ready for a mustang either, especially the v-8 kind, but eventually the allure of owning america's first ponycar leads us to buying into the mustang brand, be it a new or used horse.

If you're a first-time buyer or looking to upgrade, there are things you should know. With that, Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords looked into the Mustang market to give you some buying tips regarding late-model Mustangs. Having bought and sold more than 30 cars in his lifetime, the author is rather familiar with the used-car market, and Mustangs in particular.

Geographical Considerations
Unfortunately, Northeast and Midwest enthusiasts have to deal with rust. Floorboards, rocker panels, doorskins, and quarter-panels are all susceptible to car cancer, especially on Fox-body Mustangs. We haven't heard of it being much of a problem with the SN-95s and newer cars yet. Another thing all Fox-body Mustang buyers should look for is rust around the underside of the hatch and/or trunk lid. No matter where you live, this seems to be a problem. If you're considering a Mustang that has these issues, know that parts are easy to find and rather inexpensive at this point in time.

Not everyone can afford a new car, but for those who can, a new Roush, Saleen, or Steeda Mustang may be the ticket for a warranteed, high-performance Mustang.

Southern cars can often be the victims of floods, which usually leads to a host of electrical issues, as the submerged wiring harnesses can hold water, and rust components and connections. Carfax.com can be a good way to determine whether or not a car has been in a flood, or an accident for that matter, but you can check yourself for excessive rust on the seat frames or under the dash. A moldy smell is usually a sign of previous flooding, but it could also be a result of a leaky heater core.

Be A Smart Shopper
As with anything you're looking to purchase, it pays to be a smart shopper and do research first. Compare the car to similar Mustangs, and be sure to ask a lot of questions if you don't know much about the one you're interested in. If you're one of the overly excited types, bring a friend to be the voice of reason. I've always had a problem with envisioning the finished product when looking at the beat-up hulk. Such a car can be good, but it will most likely get you in deeper than you planned, or can afford. Friends or family members who know your habits (and your financial state) can help steer you away from making costly mistakes.

It also pays to make the most of your friends and family in regard to their talents or skills in the automotive department. If you, or someone you know, does bodywork, you might be able to make a better deal on a car that needs such work. If you have spare Mustang parts lying around, finding one in need of said parts means it can be had for slightly less than one that's complete.

The owner of this Mustang was looking to get $6,500 for this Calypso Green '92 coupe--not a bad price given its relatively clean, 97,000-mile condition and numerous performance parts.

We've found that www.autotrader.com is still the best place to find deals on Mustangs. People who aren't really into the Mustang hobby, but have one to sell, often use print ads for advertising their rides. Aside from their local newspaper, the Auto Trader magazine is the next best thing and a bit more focused. The publication offers locally based issues so you aren't scouting the nation, though you can do that online if you like.

The next best resource is www.craigslist.org. It's a free classified service, so you don't get much in the way of organization or search choices, but there are deals to be had.

Also online are the numerous Web site classified sections. Here, you'll find people asking for premium prices because they're more familiar with the Mustang market. However, you'll still find deals where people need to get out of their vehicles fast for whatever reason. Good resources include www.racingjunk.com and www.autoshoppermagazine.com.

We'd be remiss if we didn't include eBay here. The thing we like most about the site is that there's usually much more in-depth documentation of the vehicle, with more pictures and information listed. Unfortunately, these are auctions, and you have to outbid other people rather than just showing up on someone's doorstep with a bundle of cash and persuading them to sell you the car there and then. Still, depending on your cash and the car you're looking for, great deals can be had on eBay.