I really wasn't expecting this....... First time Mustang owner.......

Mikedd969

Member
Nov 27, 2019
4
1
13
52
Daphne, AL
Greetings all!!

So I have, quite unexpectedly become the owner of a 2003 Mustang Convertible. This past summer, my lovely wife and I were on vacation in Hawaii. Of course, when you vacation in Hawaii, you rent a convertible, I think it's the law..... No, it wasn't a Mustang, it was a VW, but to make a long story short, my wife REALLY enjoyed the top-down driving experience. A few weeks ago, out of the blue, she informs me that she just bought us a convertible. Sight unseen..... :eek: I had no prior knowledge that this was coming.....

As it turned out, it was a car I was already somewhat familiar with. Her childhood best friend in Kentucky, (We are both from the Elizabethtown KY area, but at the moment I live in Daphne AL and she lives in San Jose CA) was selling her White, 2003 convertible, and my wife picked it up for $600. I remember when Kendra bought the car new. Now, I trust my wife 100%, but she knows next to nothing about cars, so, to say the least, I had some questions.....

It's a White 2003 convertible, V6 Auto with a parchment top and leather interior. 212K miles on the clock. It had been parked for about 9 months, and reportedly had a bad fuel pump but was otherwise in running and driving condition. The rear window glass is separating from the convertible top, and the top itself was reported to be in pretty rough shape. Not a shock given its age. My Father in Law was kind enough to have it hauled to their place in KY (remember, I'm in Alabama, all the way down on the Gulf Coast) and we confirmed that the fuel pump was most likely bad, as reported. I ordered one and had it shipped, and he installed it for me. What can I say, I have awesome In-Laws. He also drained several gallons of accumulated water out of the spare tire well in the trunk........

Fast forward to Thanksgiving week. I flew from AL to KY with the intention of driving the car back to AL the weekend after Thanksgiving. My wife also flew to KY for the holiday. I get my first look at the car. I was pleasantly surprised. The body on this car is in amazing condition, no dents, dings or scrapes. The paint is flaking off in places, which seems to be a not-uncommon thing with white cars (I have the same issue with my 2015 Honda). As reported, the convertible top is in bad shape but mostly holding together. The interior is worn, but solid, no rips or tears in the upholstery, reasonably clean, and all there. A few broken plastic parts, but nothing alarming. It seems to have the optional "Mach 460" sound system, minus the factory head unit and the drivers side electric window does not work.

So my initial impressions of this little car.

The body is rock-solid and arrow-straight, absolutely ZERO rust anywhere, the lone exception is the area right beneath and behind the battery tray. The underside of the car is even cleaner than the rest. i've seen new cars on the dealership lot with more corrosion underneath than this thing has. Only the flaking paint lets it down.

It runs and drives pretty well, I guess. I'd never driven one of these before as far as I can remember.

It is definitely not fast.....

Handles decently for a car of its age and era.

The brakes are really bad, borderline dangerous. (they are improving as we put some miles on it, but still not great) . ABS light is on.

It starts right up, idles well, there is some hesitation/surging at partial throttle under load, not terrible but noticeable. No CEL.

The front tires need to be balanced, we put new rears on it already, the old ones were almost completely bald.

Slight smell of burning oil, no obvious major oil leaks that I have found so far apart from weeping valve cover gaskets.

Oil was a little more than a quart low, and the coolant recovery tank was dry. The radiator was full though, and the coolant looks nice and clean.

Transmission shifts a little hard. Still need to check the ATF level.

Brake fluid is filthy and will need changing. (Am I the only one who changes their brake fluid???)

All and all, it would appear that my wife got a pretty good deal on this car. $600 for a car in this condition seems like a bargain in my book.

I've changed the oil, the serpentine belt, topped off the coolant, and will be hitting the road on Saturday. 579 miles due south..... There are definite aspects of "Roadkill" to this plan.....

So the plan.

Get it home, get it up in the air, and go over it from nose to tail, fix what needs fixing mechanically, keep the spend as low as possible. Brakes first of all.

I already ordered a replacement convertible top and rear window assembly. I'm a pretty decent mechanic, but I will admit to being a little intimidated at the prospect of replacing that convertible top. I'd love to have a professional do it, but everyone I have checked with in my area wants about $700 in labor for that. :oops: I have only ever done one convertible top replacement, and that was on an early 70's Alfa Romeo, a MUCH simpler and smaller deal.

I'll also sand down, prime and paint the areas of the body that are chipped away. I haven't done any auto painting in a long time, but I should be able to handle that.

I'll clean up the interior, give the leather a good scrubbing and conditioning and replace some plastic trim pieces that are broken or deteriorated.

It does not have to be perfect. It will be a fair-weather weekend/occasional use car and something for my wife to drive when she is in Alabama.

I have just about zero knowledge about these particular cars. I've wrenched on a ton of cars in my 51 years, but never one of these. I think the "newest" Mustang that I have ever been personally involved was a friends 69 Mach 1 way back in High School. I'm pretty well set up for general mechanic stuff, plenty of tools, decent garage, air compressor, ODBII scanner and whatnot. Hopefully this forum can provide me with the vehicle-specific information I will need. I'm always grateful for advice, so if anyone has suggestions for common issues, things to watch out for, tips, tricks, hacks, or anything else, I will be very grateful indeed.

Mike

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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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Welcome to stangnet and nice score!
Good luck with the journey home, you got AAA?
i am a huge fan of Road Kill and that car is way too nice, you will need to replace the seats with lawn chairs and the wheels match.
Oh, and it's not snowing!
 

Potomus Pete

Gretchen Whitmer is eating at me
Mar 7, 2019
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You will find that parts are super cheap . Very easy to work on . I say when you take it apart do the whole area that your working on . As in front btakes , tir rods , grease , bushings , ect . Have fun and get to work.
 

Noobz347

Stangnet Facilities Maint Tech... Er... Janitor
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Sooooo.......... :coff:


Momma decides she needs a new car and that you have [way] too much time on your hands and need a project. :lcoff:


Since of course, our wives know exactly what we need :rolleyes: You can now get busy putting that thing into tip top shape. :kmcoff:



Which........ Of Course...... Was your plan all along :dig:


Welcome aboard! :SN:



My wife had an S197 V6 Vert. She loved and still misses that thing. We traded it in when we moved into the snow belt and needed another AWD. :(

I always thought that I'd replace it for her someday.
 

Mikedd969

Member
Nov 27, 2019
4
1
13
52
Daphne, AL
You nailed it. She knows me well..... :D

Sooooo.......... :coff:


Momma decides she needs a new car and that you have [way] too much time on your hands and need a project. :lcoff:


Since of course, our wives know exactly what we need :rolleyes: You can now get busy putting that thing into tip top shape. :kmcoff:



Which........ Of Course...... Was your plan all along :dig:


Welcome aboard! :SN:



My wife had an S197 V6 Vert. She loved and still misses that thing. We traded it in when we moved into the snow belt and needed another AWD. :(

I always thought that I'd replace it for her someday.
 

Mikedd969

Member
Nov 27, 2019
4
1
13
52
Daphne, AL
I never leave home without AAA. ;)

Actually, my trip will be longer than stated, I am detouring through Starkville MS on my way home to visit our daughter at Mississippi State.

Welcome to stangnet and nice score!
Good luck with the journey home, you got AAA?
i am a huge fan of Road Kill and that car is way too nice, you will need to replace the seats with lawn chairs and the wheels match.
Oh, and it's not snowing!
 
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Mikedd969

Member
Nov 27, 2019
4
1
13
52
Daphne, AL
I am kinda gobsmacked at how cheap the parts are for this thing.

I'll get her sorted out for sure. She really doesn't need a ton of work. The convertible top and the paint are by far the biggest jobs.....so far....

One of the nice things about getting this car for such a good price is that it gives me more $$ room to out into bringing her back to prime condition. I'm looking forward to it.

You will find that parts are super cheap . Very easy to work on . I say when you take it apart do the whole area that your working on . As in front btakes , tir rods , grease , bushings , ect . Have fun and get to work.