KJ Jones Senior Technical Editor
July 20, 2007
Photos By: KJ Jones
Classic Automotive Interiors' Sales and Marketing Manager Dean Satterfield (right) and Master Technician Esteben discuss their strategy for restoring a set of stock 'Stang seats for Editor Steve Turner's "Fox 500" '88 LX.

Horse Sense: My, how time flies. It seems only yesterday we turned the first wrench on our '86 T-top coupe project 'Stang, and now we're making moves on an '88 hatchback version. Fans of the four-eye and T-top Fox are probably rejoicing over the back-to-back lovefest for these special cars.

Similar to many 'Stang enthusiasts who hope to someday own or build their dream Mustang, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords Editor Steve Turner has laid out an elaborate plan for his latest 'Stang project, code-named "Fox 500."

Bringing you up to speed, Steve acquired a rare five-speed, 5.0 '88 T-top LX hatchback last year-most '87-'88 T-top cars were GTs. It was added to our project-car fleet, resurrected last year with a ground-up rebuild of an '86 T-top coupe.

Unlike the T-top coupe build, which focused more on the strip side of the street/strip platform, we're following the path of true-albeit radical-roadworthiness with the Fox 500. The plan is for the car to have the speed, comfort, and agility of the S197 'Stang from which its name is derived: the '07 Shelby GT 500. We have a good idea of what you're thinking-yes, it's definitely a cool idea.

Seat reconstruction begins with destruction. Esteben takes the stock '90 LX seats-a complete set of OEM Fox seats from Prestige Mustang-apart, beginning with disassembly of the recliner's hinge-and-lever hardware. Prestige runs a full Mustang salvage business with early and late-model gear, so if you're looking for a missing piece for your project, there's a good chance it will be there. We knew we were redoing our seats, so we asked for beat-up stuff. Prestige also has plenty of clean parts in stock.

The LX has been shipped from our Tampa headquarters to Jackson, Michigan, and is currently in the hands of Paul Svinicki, owner of Paul's High Performance. The shop is engineering the project car's transformation from pushrod 5.0 to the supercharged 5.4-modular power of a Ford Racing Performance Parts-supplied Shelby GT 500 Condor bullet. Still, we're beginning by addressing Fox 500's comfort qualities. Classic Automotive Interiors (a division of TMI Products) of Corona, California, and Corbeau USA are assisting.

The Mustang's original seating included a pair of gray, non-stock, big-headrest, tweed fronts that our project's visionary wasn't hyped about. We procured a set of replacements with the small headrests Steve favors from a '90 LX through our friends at Prestige Mustang in Clarkson, Georgia. We brought them to TMI for a desperately needed makeover that will work with the black, carbon-fiber interior scheme Steve has in mind.

Believe it or not, the T-top LX will also have a convertible trait-sort of. The stock/everyday front seats can be removed and replaced with Corbeau USA's GT7 reclining front buckets ($389) when the spirit moves Steve to take Fox 500 out for autocrossing or a spirited drive. [I think every drive will be spirited! -Ed.]

Corbeau GT7s feature high-density, injection-molded foam, integrated kidney and thigh support, a fully adjustable seatback, provisions for safety harnesses, and an ergonomical design for safety and comfort. We think GT7s are good alternatives to stockers and can be easily swapped.

Classic Automotive Interiors is giving the Corbeau pieces the same treatment as stock seats. Classic is all about "restoring your interior your way," and it has done a knockout job of putting Steve's idea down on the works of art you see here. Keep in mind-the custom touch is to give you ideas. Classic offers a number of off-the-shelf options, but if you want something unique, ask one of the company's dealers to hook you up.

The donor seats feature power adjustments, and Esteben is careful to keep all controls intact. Steve may elect to include power-seat functionality as part of the T-top resto project.

Seat covers attach to foam padding via a series of hog-ring clips and listing rods that run horizontally (across the middle) and vertically (along bolsters) in the seatback and bottom. Esteben extracts the hog rings and listing rods, then he uses a long screwdriver to dislodge the headrest. The stock seat's worn-out cover is removed once the headrest is clear. While our seat's old hog rings can be discarded, it's important that all the listing rods are saved for reinstallation with the new seat cover.

The OEM foam padding is the final item Esteben removes and discards. Ours isn't in the best shape, to say the least. The silver bladder sitting in the center of the seat frame is an air-adjustable lumbar support.