Agustin Jimenez
Technical Editor
July 28, 2015
Photos By: Courtesy of Manufacturers

If you have been in the automotive hobby long enough, you are probably well aware that upgrades and modifications can add up fairly quickly, which sometimes can draw unwanted attention from your significant other as to where your car funds are better spent. Naturally it’s hard to hide big-ticket speed parts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your Fox-body Mustang thump, roar, and pull like an absolute beast.

Lucky for us Fox fans, the aftermarket industry has made it so that any enthusiast can build a fast ride for under $1,000. If that doesn’t scream budget Mustang mods, we don’t know what does. It’s the type of budget that even a teenager with a minimum wage job can muster up in a relatively short time, and the best part is that all of these parts can be installed in a small garage or driveway with basic handtools and a healthy amount of elbow grease.

So now you’re probably wondering what kind of parts you can purchase to make your Fox rip down the strip for less than $1,000, right? As you can probably see, we decided to give you a list of our picks for the top 20 bolt-on parts under $1,000 for the 1979-1993 Mustang. Think of this as your budget-minded buyer’s guide to the Fox-body Mustang.

NOS Ford EFI Nitrous Kit, 75hp Dry System, $623.95

If you’re looking to make your Fox-body Mustang faster at the strip, nothing is more effective than a healthy dose of nitrous oxide. NOS has just what you need to shave time off your 1986-1993 Mustang. The company’s system is a 75hp dry system, which means it doesn’t inject fuel to richen the mixture along with the nitrous. The nitrous is injected into the intake tract while the extra fuel is supplied by the stock EFI system. The kit will produce an extra 75 hp and features excellent mixture atomization to give your Stang that extra kick it needs at the strip.

5.0Resto Mustang Headlight & LX Taillight Combo Kit, $219.99

If there is one area that can make or break the look of any Fox-body Mustang, it is the headlight and taillight lenses. Nobody likes faded yellow lenses. If you are looking to update and clean up the look of your 1987-1993 Mustang, you need the 50Resto Headlight & LX Taillight Kit. This kit cleans up the front of your Mustang by replacing the clouded and dingy headlights while adding style out back with the updated look of LX taillight lenses. The kit includes a pair of headlight lenses, side markers, park lights, and a pair of LX taillight lenses. Installation is easy and offers great looks at an affordable price.

BBK 5.0L Ceramic Coated Shorty Headers, $299.99

One of the biggest choking points are the restrictive exhaust manifolds. While the factory steel tube headers are a step in the right direction, they simply aren’t designed with performance in mind because they feature bends and restrictions for packaging reasons. BBK’s ceramic-coated shorty headers are just the ticket to give your pony a little more grunt both on the street and the strip. All BBK shorty unequal-length exhaust headers are manufactured with 1 5/8-inch CNC mandrel-bent tubing for unrestricted airflow and feature a one-piece laser-cut flange for strength and durability. Each BBK shorty exhaust header has been designed and dyno-tested at the BBK headquarters in Southern California to maximize performance, and all are even 50-state smog legal.

Hooker Cat-Back Exhaust, $499.99

This Hooker Super Competition Cat-Back exhaust system is the ideal upgrade and features dual raw tailpipes with optional turndowns as well as a pair of Aero Chamber mufflers to make the stock 5.0L V-8 roar to life. The cool thing about this cat-back exhaust is that you can choose the all-out roar and classic drone of the turndowns or a pair of 304 stainless steel exhaust tips all the way out the rear for that classic LX look. This cat-back exhaust is also legal for use on pollution-controlled vehicles since it is CARB EO certified.

Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial R Tires, $224.00

If your Mustang is laying down serious power but you are not able to launch off the line without spinning the tires, you have exceeded the capability of your street tires. Fortunately that’s a problem you can easily fix with a sticky set of tires. Mickey Thompson is legendary when it comes to performance tires, and the ET Street R is no exception. Following in the footsteps of the World’s Fastest Street Radial, the ET Street R delivers incredible traction for high-powered applications while using the ET Street Radial Pro’s technology and proven R2 compound in the radial tire sizes. The ET Street R is engineered for the dragstrip while still being a D.O.T. approved street tire. The construction offers excellent ride control on the street.

The low void and nondirectional tread offer maximum dry traction. A unique special sidewall construction allows for quicker launches off the line. These tires will not only get your car down the track in record time, but they’ll also allow you to drive home with sure handling and an excellent ride quality. Best of all, nothing will make a Fox-body Mustang look meaner than a set of P275/50R15 Mickey Thompson ET Street R out back ready to pin you to the seat.

Steeda Double Adjustable Clutch Cable Kit, $104.95

The factory plastic self-adjusting clutch quadrant is a common problem area for Fox-body Mustangs. While it is fine for stock clutches, when you add a heavy-duty clutch or some fast powershifts, it starts to bend. This unwanted flex causes inconsistent clutch engagement and missed shifts at best, plus worn synchronizers and a broken quadrant at worst. Luckily Steeda has just what you need to replace the weak plastic clutch quadrant in favor of a much stronger billet aluminum Double Hook quadrant. The strong flex-free billet quadrant is designed to stand up to hard shifts. Steeda's exclusive Double Hook design lets you use your choice of an adjustable clutch cable or a firewall-mounted cable adjuster. You can also use both together for the ultimate adjustment versatility.

Summit Racing Equipment Billet Aluminum Short-Throw Shifter, $139.97

One of the fun things about owning a manual-transmission Fox-body Mustang is being able to rip through the gears with the engine roaring. Unfortunately, the factory shifter isn’t the most confidence-inspiring shifter around. If you want fast, precise, and comfortable shifts, Summit Racing Equipment has an awesome American-made billet aluminum short-throw shifter. The heavy-duty body is completely CNC machined—no welds, stampings, or castings—for durability and a precise fit. Inside, the nickel-plated steel pivot shaft has been machined to exacting tolerances for a smooth operation. The offset preload springs help you snag Third gear even when bang-shifting your way down the track. This shifter makes shifts 30 percent shorter ,while the lightweight forged aluminum stick places the knob closer to the driver. Best of all, you can reuse your factory boot and knob for a clean look.

Performance Automatic 12-inch Street Smart Non-Lockup Torque Converter With 2,200-2,400 Stall, $504.18

If your Mustang is missing a third pedal, you’re really missing out when it comes to getting all the power from your hopped-up engine to the rear tires. Cam swaps are a rite of passage in the Mustang world, but without the proper stall speed the car will be sluggish off the line since the power is being made higher in the rpm range. If you want to unleash gobs of performance, you really need to invest in a good higher-stall torque converter like the Street Smart 12-inch torque converters from Performance Automatic. These Street Smart Non-Lockup Torque Converters are fully balanced and feature modified internals to provide great off-the-line starts while retaining remarkable street manners.

Ford Racing Aluminum Driveshaft, $294.99

Every pound counts when you’re building your Mustang for the strip. While Fox Mustangs are light compared to their modern siblings, there is a lot of room for improvement. One of the easiest ways to improve acceleration and reduce vibration is to ditch the heavy factory steel driveshaft in favor of a much lighter Ford Racing Aluminum driveshaft. The 3 1/2-inch-diameter, 0.114-inch-wall aluminum driveshaft is made out of 6061-RT62 aluminum seamless drawn tube. You can expect it to reduce unsprung weight, and its smaller rotational mass takes less power to turn, which means more power gets to the wheels. On top of that, the driveshaft is high-speed balanced and fitted with heavy-duty 1330 U-joints to hold up to the stresses of dragstrip duty.

Strange Engineering U.S. Strange 8.8-Inch 3.73 Gears, $170.00

When it comes to making your Mustang get out of the hole quicker, the stock 2.73 or 3.08 gears just aren’t enough. Instead, 3.73 gears have been one of the golden standards for Mustangs that are used on both the street and strip. These Strange Engineering 3.73 gears are what the doctor ordered to unleash the potential at the strip. Strange Engineering only uses the highest-quality gears available. These 8620 Pro Street gears provide excellent life for circle track, street, and drag racing applications.

SVE Radiator Upgrade Kit for 1986-1993 Fox-Body Mustangs, $589.99

If your cooling system has seen better days, don’t wait until it’s too late or you run the risk of warping a cylinder head. While the factory system was adequate for a stock engine, adding big power means you’ll need to step up to a much more efficient cooling system. SVE has exactly what you need to keep your pony cool in the summer. Why mix and match cooling components when you can upgrade with parts that are made for each other? This kit is designed to be a complete upgrade and comes with everything you need to upgrade your stock cooling system, including an SVE high-performance aluminum radiator, an aluminum fan shroud kit with dual 12-inch electric fans, a silicone hose kit, hose clamps, fan shroud mounting hardware, an adjustable fan controller, a 180-degree thermostat, a thermostat housing, and an overflow tank.

SR Performance Cold Air Intake & Throttle-Body Kit, $254.99

There’s only so much you can do with the stock 56mm throttle-body, but we have plenty of aftermarket support to get more airflow into the combustion chambers of the legendary 5.0L, such as American Performance’s line of SR Performance Cold Air Intake & Throttle-Body Combo Kit. The kit allows you to replace your restrictive stock throttle-body with one of SR Performance’s top-of-the-line units to get your 5.0L the air it lacks. This SR Performance 70mm throttle-body, EGR spacer and cold air intake will improve throttle response and horsepower. The throttle-body and spacer are cast from A356 aluminum to produce a higher-quality casting than conventional sand molds, which reduces porosity for an improved finish. This kit also consists of an SR Performance cold air intake kit, which draws cooler denser air from inside the fenderwell to make more power that you can feel. The cold air intake features a clean black powdercoat finish as well as a high-flow air filter that can be cleaned, reoiled, and reused for a very long time.

Holley SysteMax Intake Manifold, $659.95

The Holley SysteMax intake is a major step up in performance over the factory unit. The SysteMax intake uses a long transition design that helps it produce maximum volume and horsepower while remaining 50-state legal. This manifold helps build power from 2,000 to 6,500 rpm while also accepting the stock injectors as well as retaining the stock water outlet locations and internal EGR passage. On top of that, it features a sweet-looking shiny finish to stand out in the engine bay.

Trick Flow TFX 24-Pound Fuel System Kit, $329.97

If there’s one thing that isn’t designed to keep up with the needs of a modified 5.0L, it’s the stock 19-lb/hr fuel injectors. Luckily, Trick Flow has what you need. The Trick Flow TFX 24-lb/hr Bosch-style fuel injectors help atomize fuel more efficiently, resist clogging, are quieter, and require less energy to operate than other injectors. The low-magnetic stainless steel bodies help prevent moisture contamination and feature OEM-style clip grooves that eliminate possible fuel leaks. Other features include 14.4-ohm impedance, a Jetronic plug, electronically drilled and machined disc-type fuel control valves, improved nozzles and coil windings, and Viton O-ring seals to prevent air leaks under extreme conditions. The Trick Flow TFX injectors also feature high-quality 1/2-micron filter screens to help keep foreign debris and contaminants from entering the injectors to ensure proper performance and a long lifecycle. Trick Flow tests the TFX fuel injectors at 100 percent duty cycle to ensure reliability and performance.

Edelbrock E-Street Aluminum Cylinder Heads for 5.0L Mustang, $999.99

The stock E7TE cylinder heads are the choking point. Not surprisingly, one of the most common swaps among enthusiasts is to replace the restrictive stock cast iron heads in favor of a set of high-flowing aluminum cylinder heads. Edelbrock’s heads are fully assembled and feature A356 aluminum castings that are heat-treated to T-6 specs for superior casting strength and quality. The Edelbrock E-Street Aluminum Cylinder Heads are available with either a 1.90-inch or a 2.02-inch intake valve, but both feature a 1.60-inch exhaust valve as well as 60cc combustion chambers.

Comp Camps Xtreme Energy XE270HR Camshaft, $199.99

If you want to unleash the performance of your 5.0L, you really can’t go wrong with a Comp Cams Xtreme Energy Camshaft. Comp Cams has long been synonymous with high-performance V-8 engines, and the company’s Xtreme Energy XE270HR is a great choice for making more power. This hydraulic-roller camshaft is intended to be used with 1.7:1 ratio rockers. It has a lobe separation angle of 112 degrees with a duration at 0.050 lift of 218 degrees on the intake side and 224 degrees on the exhaust side, while the valve lift comes in at 0.544-inch lift. The XE270HR makes power from 1,800 to 5,800 rpm, and it works great with mild modifications, such as a larger throttle-body and mass air meter as well as better-flowing heads, intake, and headers. This camshaft is ideal for 3.20 to 3.73 gears.

MSD Ignition Kit, $699.99

If you are still running the stock ignition components, you could be leaving crucial performance on the table. MSD Ignition has exactly what you need to upgrade your old worn-out ignition system. This all-inclusive MSD Ignition Kit will boost your ignition system up to the level of performance you expect. Not only will the ignition spark be hotter and longer, but you'll also notice a smoother idle and increased throttle response, which will deliver consistency at the track as well as a better driving experience on the street. The kit, available through Latemodel Restoration, includes an MSD 6AL-2 ignition box, an MSD Pro Billet Ready-to-Run Distributor, an MSD Blaster TFI coil, an adapter harness, and a set of MSD 8.5mm Super Conductor spark plug wires to light off the fire in your 5.0L Mustang.

Maximum Motorsports Chassis Brace Package, $372.42

If you’ve ever driven your Fox-body at speed through winding roads, you are probably well aware of the amount of body flex it has. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with it. Stepping up to a chassis brace package like Maximum Motorsports’ system will ensure that your Stang can handle canyon roads as well as aggressive jaunts at your local autocross track. The Maximum Motorsports Chassis Brace Package includes a tubular strut tower brace, a four-point K-member brace, and a set of full-length subframe connectors that tie into the critical seat-mounting points to stiffen up the undercarriage of your Fox.

Eibach Drag Launch Spring Kit, $331.29

The Fox platform is a great car to build a drag car out of, but there is only so much you can do with the stock springs. You can upgrade to a set of Eibach Drag Launch Springs to get your Mustang to launch consistently at the track while also shaving down your quarter-mile e.t.’s. Eibach’s Mustang Drag-Launch Spring Kits are engineered to improve weight transfer and control axle torque. If you want maximum traction at the track, this setup is just the ticket to get the weight to transfer off the nose to the rear tires. The springs are made of the same high-quality materials as Eibach’s Pro-Kit and Motorsport springs.

UPR Products Tubular Chrome Moly K-Member, $749.99

UPR Products’ all-new Chrome Moly K-Member will shed quite a few pounds from the front of your Mustang while also offering major strength benefits over a conventional mild steel K-member. The K-member also allows for plenty of room for headers and oil pan clearance. The kit was designed for the abuse dealt out by hardcore drag racing, road racing, and street enthusiasts. Most importantly, it handles the everyday wear and tear of city and highway driving as if that were its main function. The kit includes the UPR coilover kit with the exclusive-designed adjuster nut with a new set screw to ensure that it never loses its setting. This will allow you to dial in the perfect ride height for your Mustang without the need of special tools.