Bitten By The Cobra...Lots of Questions

#1
I recently became a Mustang owner, despite being mainly a Chevy guy for the first 40 years of my life. That’s not to say I’m only a Chevy guy, as I’ve owned, repaired, rebuilt, tuned up, beefed up and bag driven vehicles of all makes and models. So I still wouldn’t say I’m a Ford guy now, but I sure have taken a liking to this Mustang!

It all started when my neighbour and best buddy bought himself an 86 Notch. As I was hunting the classifieds for fox body parts for him, I came across an ad for a 1983 Hatchback for sale or for trade. Just for the heck of it I offered to trade one of my race quads straight across for the car. The guy jumped all over it and off I went to have a look.

This was no show car, that’s for sure! And although the quad was worth more than he was asking for the car, I had only paid $800 for the quad so all I needed to see was potential in the car. After inspecting the underside for major rust issues and finding everything in surprisingly very good order, I did a quick vin search which turned up a squeaky clean title. This is when I saw that the car was actually a 1980. When I asked about the year, he proceeded to tell me that the car was originally a 1980 Cobra, but he had been attempting to fix it up using 83 Mustang and 83 Capri parts cars. Not knowing much about these cars, we made the deal and I hauled the car home.

1E1FC140-9E1C-4D55-8D61-FFB1505DBC72.jpeg


After doing some research on the 1980 Cobra, I felt a lot better about the deal I had made... until I tried gettting it to run. Distributor out 180 degrees, engine oil pan, transmission pan and pretty much all other gaskets were made of pure red silicone, fried duraspark ignition box, dozens of loose bolts, hacked up wiring, missing and broken interior parts and many, many other obstacles to overcome!
On the third day I finally got it to run, but everything leaked... a lot. After a week or so of scraping red/blue/black goop and replacing with proper gaskets, lots of re-wiring, new ignition components and timing, I had it running well with no leaks. Having it running and driving was nice, but it was way too ugly to be seen in.

The previous owners figured it would be a good idea to paint the entire exterior of the car with high solids rubberized undercoating spray paint. Let me tell you, this is not even a remotely good idea and if you ever try painting a vehicle with this stuff, better hope you never run into the guy you sell the car to... as he will not like you very much at all! A couple spray bottles of goo/adhesive remover (even really good paint stripper doesn’t work very well for some reason)let it soak for an hour, then spent an entire day using a plastic scraper which yielded a couple gallons of what can only be described as a black tar-like substance that never dries.

3C0DABAE-7B1E-4BD8-8D75-93055E6A817E.jpeg


After seeing what the car looked like underneath and searching the salvage yards for parts to swap out the hideous Capri rear bumper cover and strange looking sunken taillights, I figured I’d do some light body work and at least make the car one solid color. A nice little added bonus I discovered while piecing together and cleaning up the interior, was when I removed the seat covers to find Recaro seats. Had no idea what they were until I hit up a google search, but they sure did look like they’d be a cool looking seat once they’re recovered. Really dig that mesh headrest!

9CEDB8E3-BBDF-4619-8EC4-E1B1B5446602.jpeg


It came quite a long way in the first few weeks, as I’m a pretty motivated (and impatient) individual when I want to get something done. Here she is so far...

C7D1B690-EF69-4208-B30C-956AEF3C527C.jpeg


A good part of the info I came to find about this car was derived from the decoding of the drivers side door tag/sticker. These codes aren’t easy to decode with so many different sources on the subject. Every source seems to either have a different definition for a code, or simply doesn’t list the code I’m looking to decipher. Being a Cobra seems to make the matter even worse! Lol
If you could Please help translate the following:

A420ED96-553A-441C-8D2C-344D5D25F39A.jpeg


Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can provide. Glad to be a member of your forum!

DAN
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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#2
Dan,Dan,Dan,Dan,Dan. This is according to the Cars&Parts Catalog:
Vin F built Dearborn plant
vin 03 3 door hatchback
Vin D 255 cid 2v 8 cyl
vehicle Certification Label
1C black exterior
61 H 3door hatchback
Trim number the W is not listed, this may be due to it being equipped with recaros, the second digit (A) is black interiour
No ac
radio (7) am/fm mpx, cassette
S is for sunroof the B glass
Axle code G 2.26:1 ratioratio
Trans W C4 automatic
thats the best I can do until I find another book I have for reference, that will be a little later on today. One thing that will help if you can find it is the build sheet, could be under the rear seat or carpet, no telling, there were no specific place and some were possible tossed in the trash.
You can marti report for it, thats what I would do.
 

General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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#3
That looks to be a capri hood and bumper cover, my other reference book gave me no more info.
maybe @FoxChasis can chime in on this.
 
#4
Thanks for the info on the door sticker, much appreciated! You are correct on the front bumper cover and hood. The previous owner used parts from an 83 Capri to get this car back in driving condition. I don’t mind the Capri front end making it look like a Mexican Mustang, but the rear was hideous and had to go! It’s not easy finding an original 80 cobra front bumper cover/grill and hood, so this will have to do for now.

Sounds like the c4 trans may very well be the original then. It’s a snappy little car for being a small v8 and has a stage 2 shift kit installed in the c4 transmission. The shifts are very positive and hit pretty hard during upshift. I just recently removed the the c4 from the car to replace all the seals and it appears to also have a new, rebuilt, or possibly aftermarket torque converter. It doesn’t have any kick down linkage or cable installed, but does kick down from second to first gear or third to second when travelling at lower speeds. I assume this is vacuum controlled? Any information you guys could provide regarding the casting numbers on this c4 or insight on the torque converter would be very much appreciated. There is a spring and valve that are held in by the filter/screen if that’s any help with identification.

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3051202F-837D-4EB3-8CD8-8D9BEECB3CDE.jpeg


The car also came with an extra transmission, which I’ve researched to be a SROD 3+OD manual trans. I’ve read that these aren’t the greatest transmissions, but it came with everything I needed to run it, so I figured I’d run it while I replace some seals on the c4. I have to be honest, I doubt I’ll be going back to the c4. The srod may not be regarded as the greatest transmission, but even bone stock the performance gain kicks the crap out of the c4 in every way, with the added bonus of the OD for way better fuel mileage. Time will tell if it holds up.
Haven’t been able to find any specific info to decode this tag on the SROD. Any thoughts?

D3EB53A9-B002-452F-9287-3CD651509BB4.jpeg


Thanks again!
 

General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
9,820
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polk county florida
#5
I believe the auto trans at that time was using a vacuum modulator, was there a vacuum line from the carb to the trans down by the tailshaft housing?
 

droopie85gt

Hookers and Beer for life!
Dec 26, 2016
717
467
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Cordova, TN
#6
Does it have an 8.8 rear end or the 7.5"? If it's the 7.5" then it's tough to guess which will die first...the 7.5 or the SROD. You can probably pick up a T-5 pretty easily for $400-600. Just make sure it's a V-8 world class T5 and for a 87-93. 94-95 use a longer input shaft...you could use that, but you'd need the 94-95 bellhousing. 4 cylinder T5's are weak and have a STEEP first gear. Also, Ford and GM T5s are different. GM rotated theirs off to the side for some reason. T-5's are the stoutest either, but they'll hold a mild 302 especially if it's traction limited. :cool:

If you want to find parts and more info like wiring diagrams and such, check out www.foureyedpride.com (I think it's down this morning) But be warned. If you mention putting an Aero Mustang nose or any huge changes, they will find you and kill you. But there is a big Parts for Sale section and good tech info.
 
#8
Does it have an 8.8 rear end or the 7.5"? If it's the 7.5" then it's tough to guess which will die first...the 7.5 or the SROD. You can probably pick up a T-5 pretty easily for $400-600. Just make sure it's a V-8 world class T5 and for a 87-93. 94-95 use a longer input shaft...you could use that, but you'd need the 94-95 bellhousing. 4 cylinder T5's are weak and have a STEEP first gear. Also, Ford and GM T5s are different. GM rotated theirs off to the side for some reason. T-5's are the stoutest either, but they'll hold a mild 302 especially if it's traction limited. :cool:
If you want to find parts and more info like wiring diagrams and such, check out www.foureyedpride.com (I think it's down this morning) But be warned. If you mention putting an Aero Mustang nose or any huge changes, they will find you and kill you. But there is a big Parts for Sale section and good tech info.
Thanks for the info and the heads up! Lol

It’s for sure the 7.5” rear end, as I just swapped out the gearing to 3.45’s.
7002BBC6-7C90-4F4F-BCB2-D59ADA766429.jpeg


I’d like to go with an 8.8” rear, I’m just not sure if it will bring down the value of the car if I stray too far from the original setup. My intention is to restore it to the original Cobra look it came with, minus the hideous graphics. Just having a hard time finding a front bumper cover and hood and haven’t seen any aftermarket replacements that are a match. Also not familiar if there’s any other years that had the same setup on the front.
 

FoxChasis

5 Year Member
Dec 23, 2003
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#9
The door tag itself does not prove the car to be a Cobra. There are no codes on door tags and that exclusive to Cobras. You will need the buck tag to prove it to be a Cobra.

All 1985+ Ford T-5 were World class, even the 4-cyl and 6-cyl versions.

1979 Pace Car
1980 Cobra
1981 Cobra
1982 GT*

Those all had the same bumper cover, air dam, and hood 'scoop'*.

*1982 GT did not have the same 'scoop'
 

FoxChasis

5 Year Member
Dec 23, 2003
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#10
VIN
0 = 1980 model year
F = Dearborn Assembly
03 = Mustang 3-door sedan (hatchback)
D = 4.2L V8 engine
266207 = 166,207th 1980 Ford scheduled for production at Dearborn Assembly

Door Tag
Date - 05/80 = May 1980 scheduled build
GVWR - 3943 lb/1788 kg = gross vehicle weight rating
Front GAWR - 2128 lb/965 kg = front gross axle weight rating
Rear GAWR - 1835 lb/832 kg = rear gross axle weight rating
F0181 = 181 lbs front accessory reserve load
R0020 = 20 lbs rear accessory reserve load
Exterior Paint Colors - 1C 1C = Black upper, Black lower (tu-tone paint)
DSO - B4 = Midwestern Ford of Canada district sales office
Body - 61R = Mustang 3-door sedan (hatchback)
Int Trim - WA = cloth and vinyl Recaro seating (W), Black interior trim color (A)
A - [blank] = no factory air conditioner
R - 7 = AM/FM stereo cassette
S - B = sunroof
Ax - G = 2.26:1 axle ratio, non-locking differential
Tr - W = C4 automatic transmission
44 = front springs
MM = rear springs

Transmission Tag

RUGEM = 1982-83 5.0L Tremec SROD 4-speed manual transmission
GC6 = built on July 6th, 1982
E2ZRAA = manual transmission (R) originally engineered for 1982 (E2) Mustang (Z), release level AA
0711 = serial #0711
 

Mustang5L5

SN Certified Technician
Feb 18, 2001
28,969
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#11
F0181 = 181 lbs front accessory reserve load
R0020 = 20 lbs rear accessory reserve load
This stood out to me making me a bit curious. I searched and found your post on FEP

http://www.foureyedpride.com/content.php?150-Door-Tag-(Vehicle-Certification-Label)

Can you elaborate a bit more as to what exactly this is referring to? In the OP's case, 20LB rear accessory reserve load means what exactly? Where is this additional 20lbs being added to overload the rear axle?
 

FoxChasis

5 Year Member
Dec 23, 2003
366
74
48
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#12
It is the maximum amount of weight in extra equipment (over what was factory installed) or accessories that can be added, either permanently mounted or removable, over each axle before that respective axle is overloaded *with the current factory suspension (coil springs)**. If the suspension gets to the point that it would be overloaded then the springs would have to be changed out, and that is exactly what the factory would have done, i.e. they would have put in different springs and they would have different load ratings.
 
#13
[QUOTE="FoxChasis, post: 9136651, member: 5
0 = 1980 model year
F = Dearborn Assembly
03 = Mustang 3-door sedan (hatchback)
D = 4.2L V8 engine
266207 = 166,207th 1980 Ford scheduled for production at Dearborn Assembly

Door Tag
Date - 05/80 = May 1980 scheduled build
GVWR - 3943 lb/1788 kg = gross vehicle weight rating
Front GAWR - 2128 lb/965 kg = front gross axle weight rating
Rear GAWR - 1835 lb/832 kg = rear gross axle weight rating
F0181 = 181 lbs front accessory reserve load
R0020 = 20 lbs rear accessory reserve load
Exterior Paint Colors - 1C 1C = Black upper, Black lower (tu-tone paint)
DSO - B4 = Midwestern Ford of Canada district sales office
Body - 61R = Mustang 3-door sedan (hatchback)
Int Trim - WA = cloth and vinyl Recaro seating (W), Black interior trim color (A)
A - [blank] = no factory air conditioner
R - 7 = AM/FM stereo cassette
S - B = sunroof
Ax - G = 2.26:1 axle ratio, non-locking differential
Tr - W = C4 automatic transmission
44 = front springs
MM = rear springs

Transmission Tag
RUGEM = 1982-83 5.0L Tremec SROD 4-speed manual transmission
GC6 = built on July 6th, 1982
E2ZRAA = manual transmission (R) originally engineered for 1982 (E2) Mustang (Z), release level AA
0711 = serial #0711[/QUOTE]

Wow! Exactly the info I’ve been looking for. Thank you, much appreciated! I was unaware that there were no other ways to determine if it was a cobra car other than the buck tag, not that it really matters to me.Previous owner had stated that it was a cobra car, I wasn’t too concerned whether or not it was as I was getting the car on trade for a quad I paid $800 for. I haven’t seen a buck tag anywhere, but I found some partial stamped vin numbers that were tack welded under the edge of the fenders, which I assume were cut out from the original fenders. So odds are that if the previous owner went out of his way to save those partial vins, he likely saved the buck tags as well. But they could be anywhere! If it wasn’t a factory cobra car, someone sure spent a heck of a lot of time, money, effort to find all the correct parts just to add little to no added value to the car.


856C721E-F8BC-4A9D-9F25-EEBF0A4B9E52.jpeg
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6ABDED48-EEF1-42D1-8E25-84EFA61BBEF4.jpeg

Regardless of whether or not I find a buck tag saying it’s a factory cobra, it’ll be one when I’m finished! Thanks again for all the detailed info!
 

General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
9,820
3,089
193
polk county florida
#14
I'm not sure but look for a tag behind the headlight or someplace on the left side of the radiator support
 

droopie85gt

Hookers and Beer for life!
Dec 26, 2016
717
467
93
Cordova, TN
#15
You can find a ton of tech tips and parts on Foureyedpride. I am amazed at the parts that show up sometimes. Some people have huge collections of pre-87 parts that I would never have guessed. It's also amazing that along the way someone didn't toss those Recaro's in the dumpster. Those are pretty hard to find now.
As far as the 8.8 affecting the originality, I guess it depends on how original are you putting it back. Are you going for a concours resto? Then leave the 7.5. Are you going for a visual resto but want better performance? I'd go with an 8.8 out of an SN-95 or New Edge and front spindles and get 4 wheel disc brakes and 5 lugs in the process. I think the wheel selection is better in 5 lug.

But if you want originality, you can do that too. It's just cool that car is getting saved!
 
#16
I'm not sure but look for a tag behind the headlight or someplace on the left side of the radiator support
I had a real good look in this location and surrounding areas with no luck. Pretty sure I found the spot where they were mounted, but all that’s left is a rusty screw or rivet hole and an outline of what looks like the two corners of the tags. I’ll be completely tearing the car down over the winter, so maybe I’ll come across them in the process.

You can find a ton of tech tips and parts on Foureyedpride. I am amazed at the parts that show up sometimes. Some people have huge collections of pre-87 parts that I would never have guessed. It's also amazing that along the way someone didn't toss those Recaro's in the dumpster. Those are pretty hard to find now.
As far as the 8.8 affecting the originality, I guess it depends on how original are you putting it back. Are you going for a concours resto? Then leave the 7.5. Are you going for a visual resto but want better performance? I'd go with an 8.8 out of an SN-95 or New Edge and front spindles and get 4 wheel disc brakes and 5 lugs in the process. I think the wheel selection is better in 5 lug.

But if you want originality, you can do that too. It's just cool that car is getting saved!
Not looking to return the car to the factory state, just looking to do the “visual resto with better performance”, but don’t want to modify too much if I don’t have to. As for the Recaro seats, I kinda like the look of them, especially the headrests. I’m going to have them restored and recovered. I like the idea of having the 8.8 under the car instead of the 7.5, but I just installed the 3.45 gearing with all new axles and bearings etc, so I’ll kill the 7.5 first. I have a mini spool for this 7.5 as well that i haven’t installed yet, so that’ll likely help with then ”killing” part! lol The one wheel peel is getting pretty old, especially with the B&M line lock I just installed. I don’t really mind the 4 bolt lug setup, as i like the old school look of the weld draglites I have on there now. Thanks for the info!
 
Sep 26, 2018
3
1
13
50
New Hampshire
#18
I recently became a Mustang owner, despite being mainly a Chevy guy for the first 40 years of my life. That’s not to say I’m only a Chevy guy, as I’ve owned, repaired, rebuilt, tuned up, beefed up and bag driven vehicles of all makes and models. So I still wouldn’t say I’m a Ford guy now, but I sure have taken a liking to this Mustang!

It all started when my neighbour and best buddy bought himself an 86 Notch. As I was hunting the classifieds for fox body parts for him, I came across an ad for a 1983 Hatchback for sale or for trade. Just for the heck of it I offered to trade one of my race quads straight across for the car. The guy jumped all over it and off I went to have a look.

This was no show car, that’s for sure! And although the quad was worth more than he was asking for the car, I had only paid $800 for the quad so all I needed to see was potential in the car. After inspecting the underside for major rust issues and finding everything in surprisingly very good order, I did a quick vin search which turned up a squeaky clean title. This is when I saw that the car was actually a 1980. When I asked about the year, he proceeded to tell me that the car was originally a 1980 Cobra, but he had been attempting to fix it up using 83 Mustang and 83 Capri parts cars. Not knowing much about these cars, we made the deal and I hauled the car home.

View attachment 613046

After doing some research on the 1980 Cobra, I felt a lot better about the deal I had made... until I tried gettting it to run. Distributor out 180 degrees, engine oil pan, transmission pan and pretty much all other gaskets were made of pure red silicone, fried duraspark ignition box, dozens of loose bolts, hacked up wiring, missing and broken interior parts and many, many other obstacles to overcome!
On the third day I finally got it to run, but everything leaked... a lot. After a week or so of scraping red/blue/black goop and replacing with proper gaskets, lots of re-wiring, new ignition components and timing, I had it running well with no leaks. Having it running and driving was nice, but it was way too ugly to be seen in.

The previous owners figured it would be a good idea to paint the entire exterior of the car with high solids rubberized undercoating spray paint. Let me tell you, this is not even a remotely good idea and if you ever try painting a vehicle with this stuff, better hope you never run into the guy you sell the car to... as he will not like you very much at all! A couple spray bottles of goo/adhesive remover (even really good paint stripper doesn’t work very well for some reason)let it soak for an hour, then spent an entire day using a plastic scraper which yielded a couple gallons of what can only be described as a black tar-like substance that never dries.

View attachment 613047

After seeing what the car looked like underneath and searching the salvage yards for parts to swap out the hideous Capri rear bumper cover and strange looking sunken taillights, I figured I’d do some light body work and at least make the car one solid color. A nice little added bonus I discovered while piecing together and cleaning up the interior, was when I removed the seat covers to find Recaro seats. Had no idea what they were until I hit up a google search, but they sure did look like they’d be a cool looking seat once they’re recovered. Really dig that mesh headrest!

View attachment 613048

It came quite a long way in the first few weeks, as I’m a pretty motivated (and impatient) individual when I want to get something done. Here she is so far...

View attachment 613049

A good part of the info I came to find about this car was derived from the decoding of the drivers side door tag/sticker. These codes aren’t easy to decode with so many different sources on the subject. Every source seems to either have a different definition for a code, or simply doesn’t list the code I’m looking to decipher. Being a Cobra seems to make the matter even worse! Lol
If you could Please help translate the following:

View attachment 613050

Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can provide. Glad to be a member of your forum!

DAN
Absolutely beautiful!!