Piston Slap: It's Not A Fox Body… So What Is It?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap it s not a fox body so what is it

TTAC’s personal window into the CAW, mikey writes:

Sajeev, as spring approached our frozen north, I couldn’t face another summer sans convertible. As a proud, retired UAW and CAW member, my choice was limited to domestics. What to buy?

The Sebring? No way. New is out of my reach, so rule out a 5th gen Camaro. Having owned a 4th gen F-body…one was enough. Did I really say that? A Solstice or Sky, maybe? Can a 50 something couple pack up and go for two days? I couldn’t find a place to store a cell phone, never mind two suit cases, and a Beer cooler.

I looked at a used “Pontiac G6” hardtop convertible. Wow! all that mechanical stuff that runs the retract? Hmmmm, lets put it this way: too many years on the assembly floor, tells me to give that baby a wide berth. Draw your own conclusions.

So today we find ourselves the proud owners of a 2008 Mustang convertible. In my way of thinking, knowedge rules, and I have zero experience with Fords, except a 1969 Marquis that was a POS when I bought it, 35 years ago. So I need to update. So I’m asking the B&B to help me out.

Its not a Fox body, so what is it? What other Fords, if any, share the same platform? It’s a 4 litre automatic, without a lot of options. So I guess it’s a base model? Were Pirelli tires standard equipment? How about the “Shaker 500”,it can’t really be 500 watts? Why the phone button on the radio? I don’t think its got Bluetooth, or does it?

So it’s a 4 litre sohc? Where’s the camshaft? Does it have push rods? Why three valves? Two intake one, exhaust? 210 HP, is it me, or why do I feel that my old Firebird 3800 had a lot more cookies?

In all, the Mustang is far more comfortable, for a couple our age. It’s roomier, and quieter than the Firebird. It certainly has less rattles, and squeaks. That being said, I don’t find the Mustang as much fun to drive. That might change with time eh.

So any input/knowledge, negative, or positive, from you guys would be welcome.

Sajeev answers:

As much as I hated the 4th Gen F-bodies, I gotta admit they were a ton of fun and better than the 5th Gen in so many ways. Plus, your particular Firebird was one of our first Piston Slaps, so pardon me for my nostalgia.

While Wikipedia has most of your answers, let’s try to put a more interesting spin on the facts. Yes it’s an D2C (a.k.a. S197) platform, and while it is the most authentic platform in Ford’s passenger car lineup, they chose to run the Volvo-D3 platform for their premium sedan and crossover offerings. This platform is an evolutionary dead end…for now. But could you imagine if Ford came out with a “foxtrot” lineup? Can you imagine the sweetness of a 5.0L coyote powered Ford Flex or Lincoln MKS?

The Cologne V6 in your Mustang also has a well-documented wiki page, and Pirelli tires were indeed standard equipment: not so surprisingly, the timing of the Ford-Pirelli deal was soon after the Firestone tire debacle. I haven’t seen the rubber on the new Mustangs, but many new Fords roll on Hankook donuts. Not that I put much faith in a tire’s brand name, but some brands go for more green…and sometimes damage control is very important. More to the point, lucky you: you got yourself some fancy eye-talian tires, man!

The rest of your questions are good fodder for the B&B. If they don’t answer ‘em all, owner’s manuals are rather cheap on eBay. If you have a manual but didn’t read it, well, shame on you and RTFM!

One last thing, if you feel the Mustang doesn’t have the balls of your old Firebird, remember that V6 Mustangs (except the latest model with the performance pack) are tuned for softness in throttle response, power delivery and overall suspension mushiness. That whole “Mustangs are secretary’s cars” thing from the 1960s never really left. Luckily, an SCT tune is pretty cheap and easy, people with Mustang GT’s dump their stock sway bars on a regular basis, and shock upgrades are plentiful. If you really care.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 28 comments
  • Mikey Mikey on Aug 11, 2011

    I'm a litle concerned with this timing chain thing. However this is the sort of knowledge I was seeking. I look at it this way. With wifey's Jimmy gone, the Mustang has 2nd car status with us. For 5 months its parked in my garage. The primary number one daily driver, is a bullet proof Impala. I'll use American measure here. We might put 7,000 miles on the Mustang a year. I'll change the oil twice. With 35,000 on the clock now, that puts it at 70,000 in five years,with ten oil changes. I don't foresee a lot of problems. Though theres always the "s---happens" factor? A lot of thing can happen in five years. I might call up the nice people at Ford and order a crated engine. Or, I might sell the Mustang. Maybe I'll pour a can of Lucas oil treatment in and hope for the best. I do casual work for a junk yard, and a few used car lots, I do a little car jockying,parts delivery,detailing..etc. As such, I have connections with mechanics,tow people,parts guys etc. I also got all kinds of time. So getting a car repaired, isn't the pain in the butt it was,when we both worked. Any, what will be, will be. Thanks for your input folks, and thanks Sajeev. Michael

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 18, 2011

    Cheap audio equipment is always rated according to ILS specifications ("if lightning strikes"). If they claim 500 watts and the car has seven speakers - four mids, two tweeters, and a cheap woofer they may call a "sub" - they probably mean that the stereo can put out 70 watts per channel to seven channels, but only one at a time. So the actual total max power output would be 70 watts. But that's at ridiculous distortion levels. The true max power without audible distortion would be something like 35 watts, or 5 watts per channel with all seven channels driven simultaneously.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that