Sunday, April 29, 2018

In praise of a "throw away car." 1996 Mustang GT SN95,

This nice. clean example sports a chromed set of original 17 in. wheels.
There are still lots of cars like this out there.

I never really thought of it as a throw away car, but it seemed that way when I tried to sell it a couple of years ago. I guess that the car was too old for a young guy with a decent job, but not old enough for a guy looking for a classic Mustang project.

"Throw away car" is a pretty cruel term, so I guess that I should define my use of it. As I pointed out above, my '97 was caught in the middle: too new and common to be of interest, and too old to be desirable or prestigious to a working guy with a decent job. So these are not usually cars that are cared for and preserved, they usually are treated to abuse and neglect. The intention is to keep it running for a year or so while the driver can save up a down payment on a new car. These are not cars that will be properly repaired after sustaining collision damage. The fender will be pounded out until there is tire clearance, a broken headlamp might be sloppily replaced and secured with duct tape, and drywall screws might well be used to re -attach a broken plastic bumper cover. Contrast that to a young guy's dream car. That might carry several different color body panels with numerous patches of bondo and primer. But that kid is planning on fixing his!

 Of course routine maintenance is usually out of the question, just keep topping up the oil and adding another can of stop leak!

This generation of Mustang GT carried the classic 5.0 liter V8 during it's first two years of production, 1994 and 1995. There is some collector interest in these cars, although I suspect that most would be picked clean for their mechanical and suspension parts. The '96 and newer models carried the SOHC 4.6 V8 which has resulted in most Classic Mustang enthusiasts responding with a protracted yawn. However power levels were raised in 1999 when the "New Edge" version was introduced. Pity the poor six cylinder models. These come equipped with their skinny little 15 inch wheels. They can provide practical transportation, but are not likely to light an enthusiast's fire. Even I passed on those!

I lucked out in finding my car. It had been owned by the seller's Father who had babied and cared for it. When he passed away his Daughter inherited the car, but she really needed an SUV to haul her kids around so she put it up for sale. The car had 150,000 miles on it but the body and interior were in very good condition and it was completely stock. Well except for the FlowMasters, which I have become quite found of!

I was always kind of conflicted when these cars came out. For the most part I wasn't impressed, since I didn't see anything that was really "Mustang" about them. At the time these cars were new I was driving  my '94 Cadillac Seville STS and didn't really care about Mustangs at all.

I had really liked the last of the Fox body cars, especially the aggressive GTs with their flared body kits, louvered tail lamps, faired in headlamps and grill less front end. Quite a few of the young guys at work had them at the time.

Nice, Nice Baby!

While the Fox bodied cars really didn't look anything like the "traditional" Mustangs of yore, due to their long production life of 15 years, (1979-1993) they redefined the idea of Mustang"ness" for an entire generation.

From somewhat of a rocky start they underwent an evolution into the 5.0 models that have become a modern legend.

A little more history:

The last of the true first gen Mustangs of 1971-1973 had received a lukewarm response in the market. They had grown so much bigger and longer. The chassis had been widened to accommodate the big block motors that the enthusiast press was demanding. It seems that the buying public was looking for something else entirely.

Lee Iacocca had a new idea up his sleeve. "If the original Mustang could be based on the Falcon, why not base the next one on the Pinto?"

Mustang II, Boredom Zero!

The Mustang II is currently reviled, but was very well accepted at the time. It was a sales success. It was the right car for the times. And the times wanted a four cylinder economy car. While the original Mustang had been an affordable, practical, car the Mustang II went the whole way. The styling was based upon the original themes, but was just shrunken and smoothed over into almost "toy car" like lines.

You have to give Iaccoca some credit. A V6 powered Mach One was initially offered, and a Cobra II followed with a 302 V8 shoehorned in under the hood.

The introduction of the Fox series of cars was a complete break from the retro theme of the Mustang II.
While the "II " resembled someone's pudgy little brother, the Fox resembled a trim and athletic middle sibling. By the time Ford crowed "the Boss is back!" they were right. The fuel injected 5.0 was the King of the Streets.

Times change and new standards have to be met. The roll out of the SN95 series in 1994 started out with the good old 5.0. A new body with an old heart.

The styling was not immediately accepted. Although it took some of the cues from the first series, it was chunkier and sleeker. Some even said that it looked like a Toyota Celica. I think that it was an evolutionary design of the classic Mustang concept after the totally new and non traditional Fox series.

There were lots of real improvements incorporated into the design. The structure was much stiffer and did not require the aftermarket subframe connectors.

The biggest change came in 1996 with the introduction of the 4.6 SOHC Modular V8. The Mustang version rang up 215 horses, the same amount as the outgoing 5.0. It was the strongest version of this motor that Ford offered at the time. But it did it differently. It made it's power higher up on the rpm band.

Ford did have a better idea.

Personally I love the way the motor looks. It is really wide with the alternator in the middle of the V. The twin coils and the neatly routed ignition wires combine with the lack of an engine mounted fan to make for a very nice presentation.

5.0 fans were not impressed then, and I don't blame them. The motor in my '96 Explorer looks pretty fine also. The good ol' 5.0 has plenty of low rpm grunt.

Looks good and sounds even better.
Even with a single exhaust.

All interesting, but what did this have to do with me?

Fast forward through my '56 Cadillac/ Riviera/ Datsun Z/ period and I found myself wanting a sporty convertible. In the 1990's that could only mean two cars; the Chrysler Sebring and the Mustang.

I said sporty, so I gave the Sebring about a minutes thought and started looking for a Mustang.

My Son told me not to get a V6 model and this advice was right. For some reason, probably because my last car was a four cylinder Acura, I actually toyed with the idea of a four banger. My son said that that was an even worse idea than the six. After some internet research I had to agree with him.

The 94-95 5.0 models had remained popular and were still cheap so that many were purchased by young gearheads. Many were hacked up, thrashed and amateurishly modified. The 4.6 was much like the early fuel injected models, many home tuners were "frightened" of the high tech system and avoided these models. Response to the initial 4.6 models was similar and they were shunned by many driveway hop up artists. This meant that there were a lot of unmolested, original examples available.

The 5.0 equipped cars came with this horizontal tail lamp treatment.

I found a pretty clean example that was stock except for some Cobra replica wheels and FlowMaster exhaust. It came with the tweed sport seat interior and even ABS. It also came with quite a few miles, 150,000 to be exact. It was loaded with all the power and convenience features that I had come to expect in a modern car.

All in all I have found this to be a very satisfying car. It handles well and is plenty fast for me. Power output sounds anemic on paper but is plenty in the real world. I know that I would probably lose in a drag race to a V6 Honda Accord but that doesn't matter. The car will cruise effortlessly at 70 mph turning only 2000 rpms. It will run up to a hundred mph. and sustain that speed easily. Real World Fuel economy is an actual 25 mpg. at 70 mph.

2002 Mach One.

Ford released their own special Cobra models based upon the early cars. While there were many tuner models of the early SN95s produced by tuners like Saleen, Stillen, and Kenny Brown. Ford stepped up their specials with the introduction of the New Edge cars in 1999. Besides the Cobras, the Bullitt and Mach One were available. These cars are true high performance specials, and they are already starting to command hefty prices.

A couple of weeks ago I finally replaced the intake manifold, hoses and serpentine belt on my '96. Last year I replaced the lower front suspension arms, tie rod ends, rack bushings, front brakes rotors and hoses. A new set of tires had preceded that work. I have documented all this work in previous blog posts, but I was surprised that in the last year and a half the car had only accumulated a couple of thousand miles! The truth is, that it mostly sat while I morosely pondered whether or not I should even do each of these repairs. I did have other cars to drive, so I did. I had planned to sell the car before that ball joint broke, but there just wasn't much interest from buyers. So I just fixed it, some times you just have to do the work, and I'm glad that I did.

I've been enjoying the heck out of this car these last two weeks. Sometimes I forget that it really is an actual high performance car, not just some old daily driver. Of course it's not like a Porsche Carrera or Shelby or Hell Cat, but so what. It's plenty quick and agile, and sounds really good. It's a scrappy little hot rod of a car.  It's true that I've got more invested in it than it's worth, but that's what makes it a real Better Beater. I like and care about the car, and I want it to be reliable and useful. Then I become aware of something kind of strange.

I've noticed people checking out my car at the gas station and while driving around town. A middle aged guy, pan handling at an intersection asked me about my car and then started telling me about his old '91 GT. At the oil change shop the techs were quite interested in the car. One of the guys, close to my age, was telling me that he enjoyed seeing one of these Mustangs in such good shape, since they are now kind of rare. He told me to hold onto it, don't offer it for sale. "Only sell it if someone makes you an offer that you can't turn down."

Maybe these cars are starting to become classics in their own right. They've been around for twenty five years now. Maybe I should take that guy's advice and hold onto what I've got!

You might notice that this post is being made late on a Sunday night. Usually I will post on a Friday or Saturday. I was out of town the last two days. I had to take an unexpected, spur of the moment, trip to Southern California's Inland Empire.  It was a quick run; one day down, back the next, 887 miles in total. I drove my Mustang, which ran like a champ and didn't miss a beat. Drove over the Grapevine in the windiest conditions I've ever experienced. Not a single white knuckle on either hand. The odometer is poised to turn over 205,000 miles in the next week. I think that I will hold onto this car for a lot longer. Throw away car? Not in my eyes.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dress for Success? 1977 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Portrait of the blogger as a Young Man.

MBAs, Condos, designer clothing.
The YUPPIE dream. Welcome to the 1980's

She set the bar pretty high.

This was the period of my life that reflected my greatest era of optimism.

I had just completed a task that I thought would redefine my opportunities in the future.

I had finally graduated from college. It had taken seven years of part and full time effort.

Years of Community College prior to my transfer to a State University. It might have been easier if I had a clear career path, hadn't decided to change my major, and hadn't been working full time during most of this period.

This was the  defining accomplishment of my life until that time, and maybe of my entire life.

I was twenty five years old. It was a very good year. It was time for a reward.

I wanted to portray the image of the dynamic young man on the way up. Designer clothes and an almost new (looking) 1977 Coupe de Ville.

Fussell had written this examination of the American Class system in 1983

Paul Fussel's somewhat humorous take on social class and John T. Malloy's earnest advice on managing your impression, did have an effect on my thinking, at least for a while. It is hard to be successful if you don't look successful, at least others have to think that you look successful. Managing your image is not just a conceited joke, if we don't communicate how we want others to see us, who will? So everything about us has importance, our grooming, our wardrobe, our demeanor, our behavior.

I  remember that Fussell wrote that a woman dresses to impress other women. A men dresses to tell other men how he wants to be treated. Looking back at the experiences of my lifetime there seems to be a lot of truth in that.

But lets get back to the car.

Besides all of that background noise I was still a car guy, a Cadillac guy. My '70 Coupe had affirmed for me that the Cadillac could still be a dynamic, exciting road car. A '73 Coupe de Ville had been the winner of the 1973 Cannonball Sea to Shining Sea Trophy dash. So the Cadillac could still be a serious driving man's choice. These things could put down some serious miles.

Unfortunately, the de Ville had just kept getting bigger and bigger.

The smog choked motors got flabbier and flabbier. The 1976 Coupe De Ville was just a huge expanse of metal.

It can be argued that this is where the 1950's ended.

I had become interested in other types of cars. The BMW Bavaria was a spacious and practical road car, one that could tame the Alps, When was Cadillac going to rise to the occasion?

Initially it seemed that the 1975 Seville was the first sign. Though it's presentation was purely American, it's primary virtue was it's more manageable size. The fact that it was based upon the under pinnings of the Camaro and Nova meant that it would be easy to improve upon it's suspension design. It was a revelation and a beacon of hope.

This was actually a pretty good first attempt.

It appears the GM had been looking at this problem and had planned a remedy. The entire line of large cars underwent a downsizing. The 1977 Chevrolet Impala is a design icon for many. Looking at them today, it's easy to think that they were still too big, but if you contrasted them with their Lincoln and Chrysler competition you could easily grasp the extent of the great leap.

Now this is more like it!

Like many new product cycles the first efforts were the best. In my opinion the '77 thru '80 models were cleanest and most athletic looking. These were powered by the 425 cid V8 sometimes optionally equipped with fuel injection. Lighter, with more responsive chassis tuning, they could be improved by borrowing even more serious hardware from the corporate parts bin. After 1980 the face lifted models acquired a more traditional, heavier appearing styling motif and the drivetrains took a serious nose dive, ending in the HT 4100 debacle.

Nice, but something was lost.

Car and Driver magazine did a road test on a '78 Coupe de Ville and they were quite impressed. It was their conclusion that the new downsized C bodies were a substantial improvement over the Seville's platform. They were amazed at how the driving dynamics had been improved in just a couple of model years. As the byline to the test stated: Surprise; Opulence can be fun.

All of this just meant that this Cadillac was a real road burner like those of the early Fifties. The styling was classic, and the downsized platform delivered the utility and performance that had been missing from the Marque for decades.

I got a lot of pleasure from owning this car, and it made me feel like I was really going somewhere.

Driving in the afternoon sun and watching the silhouette of the car race across the center divider jersey wall ahead of me. The road was clear, the weather fair, and the horizon looked as welcoming as the future I was rushing towards.

It was a convergence of all the best forces that I hoped would play out in my life.

Even if the future did not turn out as well as I was imagining that day, driving that yellow Cadillac, was good enough. My ownership of that yellow Coupe de Ville encompassed the best period of my life.

That was almost forty years ago. An entire lifetime for some people. As much as I still enjoy cars, I no longer think that they are the main indicator of status or achievement. If you have more to spend, you probably will. But there will always be exceptions to that rule.

Well, what ever became of dressing for success? As I like to say in my self deprecating manner, "Once I realized that I wasn't going to be that successful, I realized that I could save a lot of money on clothes!

But it's always good to have at least one nice suit in the closet.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Route 66, What this television show meant to me.

Route 66 premiered October 7th, 1960. I would have been six years old. It ran until March 20th 1964 with a total of 116 episodes. It was created by Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant who also had developed the ABC television drama series "The Naked City." No wonder the stories were so compelling.

When ever I hear that evocative Nelson Riddle theme I am transported to a special time in my life. This was the early 1960's. I was an elementary school kid that longed for the time when I could take to the open road.  I longed to share the freedom and adventure experienced by Todd and Buzz; Martin Millner and George Meharis.

This is one of the books that started it all.
Not too many hidden meanings in this account.

It seemed that every young person in America was sharing the same longing which was reflected in the literature and music of the times.  Think about it: Jack Keroac's On the Road, John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley in search of America, Woody Gutherie's This land is your land. Bobby Troupe's Get your kicks on route 66. This was the entire social mileau.

There were things going on in Keroac's book that were more than a road trip itinerary, I must admit that when I read it in my Twenties some of it was kind of hard to understand, and seemed kind of dull. But that evocative name!

Steinbeck's book was more a detailed travelogue with the requisite social commentary.

Woody's song was clear and to the point; this entire Country belongs to you, and you have  every right as an American to see it, and experience it.

This era preceded the birth of the hippie generation of youth that took up hitch hiking and converted school bus campers.

Still worth reading.

The premise of the show is simple; two guys, one car, one country. All this adds up to a young American's idea of Freedom.

The show's opening scenes usually featured impressive open views of the surrounding countryside  or the gritty urban sprawl that they were entering.

With the packed luggage rack on the trunk, the Corvette was a replacement for the bedroll and pack of the traditional wandering Cowboy.

And these guys were travelling light.

The car was always one of the stars, as the Corvette was a personification of the American Dream.
Chevrolet supplied the cars and a new model was featured every year, although this was never mentioned by the characters.

By the final season the Corvette Stingray was one of the stars.
As a "sixty something" just saying that name is magic.

It wasn't just young guys out there.

Moving on from place to place. Drifters in search of "something." A theme that is old as our country, a nation of pioneers, it has always resonated throughout our history. Think of Charles Kuralt on the road, Then came Bronson, and even American Pickers. Horace Greeley said "Go West young man." A new place, a new opportunity, a new life. The fulfillment of an old dream.

Stopping and becoming embroiled in a local situation. They get involved and they help resolve the issue, and then they move on. The idea presented in the series is that Buzz and Todd are dissatisfied with their old life and are travelling looking for someplace where they can put down roots and build a new life. To travel hopefully can be better than to actually arrive.

The idea of the show was often much better than the actual content. The drama among the characters was the obvious emphasis, and the story lines became a bit preachy as the series progressed. Buzz and Todd just inserted themselves into other people's business. Often times it appeared that the other characters would have just as happy to have been left alone. It can be annoying when outsiders appear on the scene and think they have all the right answers.

It seems that I spent my entire childhood waiting for something to happen. I wasn't satisfied sitting at home when things were going on out there, somewhere. I wanted to get out, and at least be out there to see it, experience it, and possibly even influence it. The problem was that I was only ten years old at the time and I had some growing up to do!

Which was what I was waiting for all along. Like most kids in my generation I was waiting to turn sixteen so that I could get my driver's license. That was going to be my passport to independence, freedom and the possibility of adventure. Everything that was promised to me on television. The American romance of the open road seems to have lost it's luster for the current younger generation. They can't wait to have an autonomous self driving car, so can passively sit there playing with their phone, just like when their Mama was driving them everywhere in her Camry.

The last American heroes?

Buzz and Todd would have vigorously rejected that proposition. In the movie "The Right Stuff" test pilot Chuck Yeager told the scientists and developers of the space craft that there had to be flight controls for the Astronauts to use. The Astronauts were pilots, not cargo. They wanted the ability to exercise direct control over their spacecraft, and their destiny. They would not settle for anything less.

Nor would I.

This show was one of the influences that made me want to travel through the country and experience the different areas that I had read about but never seen. I would have loved the idea of doing that traveling in a new Corvette, but I managed to enjoy my journeys using a series of motorcycles. The reality may not have made for the compelling drama of Route 66, but the best thing is that I actually managed to do it.

I think I'll cue up that theme music one more time.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Time for the Mustang to get a little love. There's been a little too many of my memories, musings, and ramblings. Not enough work being done. Not enough progress reports.

Just call it the "Plastic Fantastic."

My car hobby doesn't exist in a vacuum, sometimes Life has more immediate concerns for me to deal with. I even managed to get quite sick. I thought it was just a cold and that I would power through it. That's what I usually try to do. It didn't work this time, I ended up with a walking pneumonia. Luckily I did go to the doctor for treatment, but the delay caused my illness to continue for at least another week.

At least the weather is now cooperating. There was a period of warm dry weather at the beginning of the year but I didn't take advantage of it. Then we got some needed rain. It sure did come down a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to have to take advantage of the current mild weather and work on my car in the driveway, since my garage is still unavailable.

I got out the shop manual to review the repair procedure. I've done this job once before, but a refresher couldn't hurt. Nothing too taxing. The hardest thing was jacking up the car to drain the coolant and remove the lower radiator hose. There's quite a bit of fiddling with hose, electrical, and fuel connections but I will just label everything as I go.

As I like to say, sometimes you just have to do the work.

The shop manual states that the EGR tube has to be removed from the exhaust manifold prior to removing the intake manifold. I remember that I only had to remove the actual EGR valve last time, so that I only had to go under the car to unhook the lower radiator hose and drain the radiator. What a mess! Couldn't they include a drain tap? The EGR tube left enough clearance to remove and replace the manifold, just like I remembered.

This is the  underside of the heater hose boss,
where I expected to find a crack.

After I removed the manifold I flipped it over and expected to see a visible crack somewhere under the heater hose boss, but was disappointed. I also checked the heater hose connection to the solid pipe next to the firewall, with no success. A leak here could have dripped or sprayed onto the rear of the manifold.

I removed that blue gasket and looked carefully to see if I could find a crack or damage under the gasket. This area was in much better shape than the front coolant ports.

I could not find any cracks in the heater hose boss.

I decided to do an internet search to see if anyone had reported a similar situation. I didn't want to replace the manifold without diagnosing the actual failure.

Those three bolts were all loose. One was backed out 1/4 inch.

Besides the loose bolts you can see the deformation and there is a crack that extends into the crossover tube gasket. Both sides were damaged. I'm wondering if the leaking coolant ran along the edge of the manifold and collected around that heater hose boss.

At the top, see that hint of blue gasket? That's the cross tube gasket underneath.

You can clearly see a crack.

While I was at it, I decided to replace many of the components that had been on the car for a long time. Shortly after I bought the car the rear heater hose blew and I lost the majority of the coolant. Those hoses crumbled as I removed them and I guess they were the original parts. These were also the same upper and lower hoses that came with the car. So I decided to replace both radiator hoses, both heater hoses, and the valley hose. The serpentine belt will get the heave ho also.

I remember that on the Mercedes straight six there is a short hose that fits between the head and the engine block. This hose cannot be replaced without removing the head. There was a section of high lighted, bold print that stated this in the shop manual. It stated that the hose should always be replaced whenever the head is removed.This impressed me so much that I try to replace things that are only accessible while I'm in there.

It seems that there is a quality issue with replacement manifolds. The popular Dorman replacement suffers from rapid deterioration and deformation resulting in coolant leaks. The replacements feature an alloy coolant cross tube that contains the thermostat housing that is an improvement, but the coolant intake ports deform and crack from the inside, causing leakage. The four bolts that attach the alloy tube to the manifold have been found to be loose on several examples, my current example included, and they cannot be tightened without removing the manifold. These replacements seem to last anywhere from three to five years, at least mine did.

It seems that the quality issue is much like the replacement gas tank filler neck grommet. I replaced the leaking unit on my car with a cheap 2.50 replacement from Late Model Restorations.  It only lasted for  a year and a half, resulting in an embarrassing and hazardous leak while on a family trip to the Gold Country. I replaced that grommet with an OEM Ford part that cost me 16.00. The difference in quality was noticeable.

An OEM Ford Racing improved performance manifold sells for 265.00 from Summit. It will probably be worth it to choose this replacement in hopes of it having a longer service life.  When I was at the Ford dealer I checked with the counter guy and thought that I heard a price of seven hundred dollars. I might want to recheck that number!

I have to admit that my disappointment in accepting that the manifold had failed so soon after replacement, made me drag my feet in starting the repair. I got five years of service out of the replacement, not bad, but the original lasted around twenty years. I consider that a pretty reasonable service life. I managed to drag my feet for around five months.

Perhaps I could have made a wiser choice than that no name brand unit from Rock Auto. It was around 170.00 Not too bad, but how long will it last?  Since I already have it on hand, I'm going ahead with the operation. I can't remember exactly when I did the previous replacement but I'm pretty sure that it was before I started this blog. Which would be over four years ago. I'll guesstimate around five years.

All ready to receive the new manifold

I cleaned all the mating surfaces, chased all the threads, and cleaned up the bolts by running them through a tap. I switched the injectors over to the manifold using new o-rings. So every thing is ready to go back together at the end of the second day. I don't approach the job like a professional mechanic, lots of times I start late and end early.  I had to replace the lower radiator hose and that required me to jack up the car and crawl underneath. The connection to the block was held on by one of those OEM spring clamps. These can be a real pain to remove as I usually use a large channel lock pliers to squeeze it. Sometimes access for the pliers is pretty limited. I ended up cutting the majority of the hose off to give me more room. I just used the usual jubilee clamp so that I could have an option on it's drive screw placement.

If you are planning on having your car judged at a Concours
then plan on using these.

This is just a common replacement hose clamp.
I saw that it was referred to as a "jubilee" clamp on some British source.
Calling it that is just one of those irritating affectations that Brit car owner's often do.

I fired it up and it started, sounding rough and backfiring. I didn't see any fuel leaks in the lines. I rechecked all the vacuum hoses and din't find anything wrong. So I checked the plug wires, maybe I mixed one up. On the passenger side I counted back from the front and only counted to three! I looked and saw that the rear plug didn't even have a lead on it! How could that be? I looked at the coil  and saw that the wire to the second plug was still stuffed in the space around the coil. I rearranged the wires and the problem was solved. Or so I thought.

After sorting out the wiring I fired it up again and it sounded fine. I was looking for any leaks and sure enough the passenger side manifold temp sender was leaking a bit. A couple of turns with a large adjustable wrench cured that. Then I noticed that it's twin on the driver's side was leaking a bit also. I was lazy. I clumsily applied the same wrench and broke the head of the unit! This time I found that a 3/4 inch deep socket would do an excellent job removing what was left. A quick trip to the store and twenty dollars later I was back in business. This replacement was black, unlike the earlier grey unit. The passenger side was green, The parts guy said that now they are now all black. He really didn't sound too sure about that. The new sender already had Teflon tape applied to it's threads. I carefully installed it with the deep socket and all was well. I had also spent an hour or so earlier cleaning the motor and engine compartment. There is something leaking that I will have to track down.

The green one on the right is for the temperature gauge.
Original parts # F68Z-10884-AA

The grey one on the left is for the ECM.
Original parts #F5AZ-12A648-AB superseded by new #3F1Z12A648-A

So what does the black one do? Will it work?
I replaced it with the OEM part. This black one is Standard #TX61.
I'll do a little more research. When you change more than one thing at a time
 it's hard to determine what caused the problem.

Ooops! I don't think that the sender is the same. I took the car for a test drive and it was running poorly and the check engine light came on. I came back home and parked it, then got on the net to investigate. First I wanted to see if both senders had the same parts number. This was a little hard to decipher as they weren't listed that clearly. Then I checked some of the forums and it was clarified a bit. The green sender on the right is for the temperature gauge, the grey one on the left is for the ECM system, so obviously they cannot be the same unit. The original parts numbers were supplied. I also learned that the newer PI performance enhanced 4.6 motor uses a single temp sender. I went down to the Ford dealer to see if I could get the genuine replacement part. The parts counterman had a little difficulty figuring out which part I was looking for, initially he said that he would have to order it. I supplied him with the original and updated parts number and he discovered that it was actually in stock. I told him that since it's a '96 I don't really think that it is that old, but again he was probably in grammar school back then! The OEM part set me back 31.00 dollars which I gladly paid.

Since I was there I took the opportunity to check out a new Mustang GT coupe. The black one on display was very nice. I could easily notice the upgraded interior compared to our '07, and ours is a Pony with leather seats, this one was cloth. As much as I liked it, I just couldn't see myself paying the 40,000 list price. I've been pricing used  '15's which are around half that much. I've definitely become a cheap old guy.

I installed the sender, topped up the coolant, and found that it was still running poorly, with an obvious miss. The check engine light came on again so I drove down to Winchester auto parts where I had been shopping. The parts guy used a code reader to determine that the problem was in cylinder number four, which was the cylinder that I initially forgot to hook up the plug wire to. I rechecked the plug wire routing and firing order. I remember last time that I replaced the manifold I had left some coolant in the plug holes and that had caused a misfire. I hadn't seen any coolant in that bore, but maybe I missed it. I blew some compressed air in the hole than I pulled the plug. The electrodes were dry, but the insulator was wet with an oily residue. I cleaned  off the plug, and ran a rag inside the plug boot and down into the spark plug hole. The inside of the boot was wet and dirty so I'm guessing I was getting flash over and a miss.

I buttoned everything back up and now I was golden, just like Pony Boy.

This just goes to show you that nothing is ever that simple.

I finished up the job in the afternoon of the fifth day. It's beginning to sound like the Creation story in the Bible!

New intake manifold, injector o-rings (of course). Replacement of upper and lower radiator hoses, rear heater hoses and valley hose, thermostat, one ECM temp sender and coolant. New serpentine belt. All of this only cost me around three hundred dollars in parts and my own free labor. This will keep the Mustang as a reliable, usable car, which is the whole point of this exercise.

Crossing my fingers for another five years.

I haven't found the receipt for the last manifold installation so I'm not really sure when it was done.
I think that it was before I started blogging. This time I scratched the date, 4/2/18, on the coolant cross over tube. That will remind me.

Mileage at the time of repair is 203,730. Remember back when a car with this kind of mileage was just a hiccup away from the junkyard? I fully expect that this motor will last me well past 250,00 miles. Probably all the way to 300,000. Isn't progress wonderful?

This time I will note the date and mileage on the receipts and staple and save them.

I have really missed driving this car and now that Spring is here it's time to lower the top and enjoy the weather. The car is in great shape, since this repair just adds to the earlier front suspension rebuild and the tires were replaced only fifteen hundred miles ago. I am aware that unfortunately the market value of the car is approaching the bottom of the value curve.

The market value doesn't really reflect the actual value of the car to me. It's a Mustang GT convertible!

A sporty, well optioned, air conditioned, V8 powered, fun to drive sporty car. It really checks all the  boxes as a hobby car. And it is practical and reliable. I have also made a long term commitment and investment to maintaining it, occasional foot dragging aside.

That is why I have decided to hold onto it for so long. While it is not rare, or exotic, or even "special" it is a good little car. If most of my meager car hobby funds evaporated overnight I would still have a car that satisfies me as an enthusiast. And isn't that what this whole thing is about?