Junkyard Find: 1979 Ford Mustang Coupe

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1979 ford mustang coupe
The Fox Mustang replaced the much-reviled (but big-selling) Pinto-based Mustang II for the 1979 model year, and production continued through 1993 (or 2004, if you consider the Fox-based SN-95 platform to be a true Fox).Today’s Junkyard Find, spotted in Denver, is a triple rarity: it’s a first-year Fox Mustang, it’s a notchback, and it has the 200-cubic-inch straight-six engine. Let’s take a look.
The base engine for the 1979 Mustang was Ford’s ubiquitous “Pinto” 2300 four-cylinder, good for 88 horsepower. Performance-minded buyers could get a 140 hp turbocharged version of the 2300 or the 302-cubic-inch/5.0-liter Windsor V8, also rated at 140 hp. The middle-of-the-road engine option was a 2.8-liter version of the “Cologne” V6, already familiar to Americans as the engine used in the 1971-1978 Capri; Ford ran out of the Colognes late in the 1979 model year and switched to the good old 200-cubic-inch pushrod straight-six. That’s the engine we see in this car. A few years later, Ford sliced two cylinders off this engine and created the HSC, which powered Tempos, Topazes, Tauruses, and Sables.
The future was closing in fast in 1979, and so Mustang buyers could get this optional science-fictiony Graphic Warning Module in their cars. I bought this one, for use at my next Junkyard Boombox Building Party.
This car got most of the medium-grade options, including the automatic transmission, blacked-out trim, pinstripes, air conditioning, the Interior Accent Group, and these Turbine wheel covers on 14-inch steel wheels. The true high rollers got the Cobra or Ghia versions, adding the leather-and-vinyl interior and a more powerful engine.
Most of the early Fox Mustangs were hatchbacks; the notchbacks are a bit lighter and thus more desirable for the multitudes who want to build race cars. This one isn’t rusty, but good sheet metal wasn’t enough to save it from a junkyard fate.
“It’s time to fall in love again, with a beautiful new breed of Mustang.” True enough. Note the slightly Muzaked version of “Swingtown” by the Steve Miller Band, the use of which probably cost Ford a few bucks.
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  • Geo Geo on Aug 08, 2017

    In 1993 a friend of mine told me about an old farmer who had a five liter Mustang with only 65,000 original miles. I went to see it. It was a 1979 Mustang notchback with a sunroof, a clean interior, faded paint, and a rather large dent on the rear fender. The farmer assured me that the 65k on the clock were original miles, though I didn't believe him and there was no way to know for sure. I bought it for 600 bucks. It drove and handled solidly, it was comfortable, and it seemed pretty fast at the time. There were problems with the choke, and I had to creatively find ways to wedge it open after it warmed up. It held about fifty liters of gas, which took me about 300 kilometers. This was too much for me, and I sold it to a buddy for really cheap. In hindsight, I think it really did have 65,000 miles and I should have appreciated it more.

  • Arcuri Arcuri on Aug 18, 2017

    Miss those straight six motors. :(. Could you tell me more JohnTaurus, regarding the 4.0 SOHC V-6 ? I was always skeptical of those motors. My 2005 Explorer was equipped with that motor, water pumped was replaced around 60,000 miles. No other problems. Strong motor.

    • See 1 previous
    • Arcuri Arcuri on Aug 18, 2017

      @JohnTaurus My suspicions were validated . Thank You John.

  • 56m65711446 Well, I had a suburban auto repair shop in those days.
  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”