Progress Thread Low budget 89 LX build

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
Hey everyone, I picked up this 89 LX 5.0 T5 back in January, it's in ok shape for an Ohio car, has 130k on it. Mechanically everything is pretty good, the car was all stock when I got it, I added a cold air intake, but only because the stock air box was destroyed. It needed exhaust, so I added an off road H pipe, a couple of fakemasters, and turndowns. I have a set of 3:73 gears to put in, just haven't gotten to it yet. The car runs strong and is a blast to drive, cant wait to drive it with the gears.

Now for the bad, it's an Ohio car, so that means rust, the passenger quarter is rotted out below the body side moldings, and both strut towers/rails are pretty bad. A smarter person would use this as a parts car and buy a 4 banger car to build, but I've been in the Auto body repair biz for the last 25 years, so I'm obviously not that smart! I have the skills to fix it, and I love a good challenge, the biggest challenge will be the budget, or the lack of one. I love to scrounge for parts, or fabricate or improvise, I'm not building a high dollar show car, just a fun driver that looks decent. I actually don't want it to be too nice, I want to beat on it, not babysit it.

Anyway, here are some pics of the progress so far, I suck at taking pictures while I work, I usually remember after I'm done.
IMG_20190119_155441324.jpg

Here's the car when I brought it home. I forgot to take a pic of the rust before I cut it out.
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This quarter panel came with my car, but it is the biggest P.O.S. I've ever seen, buying another panel isn't in the budget, so I'm going to use this one for patches. You can see I had already cut the lower front section off before I took the pic.
 
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Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
It took a lot of work to get this to fit this good
IMG_20191006_183057822.jpg

All welded and glued in, I used Lord Fusor panel bond for the wheel opening and where the quarter meets the rocker
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And the rear welded and glued, I used the adhesive on the wheel opening and along the bottom, I had to fabricate a patch for the inner quarter, but forgot to take a pic.
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This is where I'm at right now, I'm up in the air about the rust above the wheel, it was full of fiberglass filler from probably 15 or 20 years ago, it was just starting to bubble. I could make a patch from the P.O.S. panel, but the old hack bodyman in me wants to just glass it up again. The car will never see winter, or salt again, and it could be a good experiment to see just how long it will last, I can always put the patch in later if it becomes an issue. I think the quarter window leaks, that's why the rust in the lower quarter happened, the other side is perfect, I'll pull the quarter glasses when I paint anyway.
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Here's the worst of the strut tower/rail rust. I have donor sections to repair this. In the next month or so I'm insulating my garage, once that's finished, the engine and trans is coming out so we can get to some serious work, I just want the car easily movable while I'm doing the garage project.
 

Wayne Waldrep

Before I post a pic, do you have one of yours?
15 Year Member
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Nice post! Glad you have metal fab skills. Looks like you have a good project there..

And welcome to Stangnet!
 

90sickfox

I didn't really have an issue with the stink...
SN Certified Technician
Mar 2, 2015
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Welcome to Stangnet !

Really big project you've got going on. That rust scares the faint at heart. When it comes to rust I'm a complete wuss.
 

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
Thanks for all the encouraging words folks, I'm going to post some more pictures of my lift for Steel1, or whoever else cares.
IMG_20191023_183630208.jpg

This is max height, about perfect for body work or brake and suspension work, it does have some different adapters for full frame trucks, but they will add about 4 inches if you use them with a car. The 2x8s are for cars that are too low to drive over the lift without scraping, the Mustang makes it over the lift, but it's too low to put the lift pads anywhere.
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This is the trolley/power unit, it's electric over hydraulic. This is also used to move the lift around, I really like how portable it is, I can use it anywhere in my garage, or even in the driveway, the other good thing is if I'm not using it, I can just store it under a car and it's out of the way. There's a bunch of different companies that make similar lifts, Harbor Freight even sells one, this is just what I found on Craigslist.
 

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
Well, here is where I'm going to put a disclaimer. The old hack bodyman in me won the debate over whether to weld a patch for the wheel arch, or to just use fiberglass filler, like the last guy did, that lasted a really long time. I know this isn't a proper repair, I'm telling you this isn't a proper repair, this isn't what you do if you're spending a lot of money on good paint and materials, this isn't something I would do on a paying customers car, but I know the owner of this car, he's a cheap bastard and isn't paying anyway. I'm mostly doing it this way to see how long it will last on a car that only gets driven in the summer, it's also not that big of a deal for me to fix it again later if I have to.

Anyway, pics or it didn't happen
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I cleaned out as much rust as I could, I used a 3m cookie wheel and a wire wheel, I also cut off the loose stuff, then I a gave it a coat of Upol Fiberall, it's a filler that's reinforced with fiberglass strands. I also coated the seams of my patches.
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Here is the fiberglass filler roughed out with 36 grit sandpaper
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Here's where I ended this evening, all roughed out, ready for regular filler, I also cleaned off the double sided tape and the pinstripe.
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I got this from a co-worker today, a friend of his works at a big truck shop, they switched paint lines and were going to pitch all of the old stuff, so he ended up with a bunch of this. It's a single stage acrylic urethane, big truck fleet stuff, but the price fits my budget since it was free. It says use by 3/30/2020, so I better hurry up!
 

Steel1

Mustang Master
Aug 18, 2017
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That lift would work great in my small two car garage but not in the budget right now.
Are you going to shoot a clear over the single stage or just leave it, I know it's possible with
some ss paints.
Got a chuckle from the calendar in the pic.
 

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
That lift would work great in my small two car garage but not in the budget right now.
Are you going to shoot a clear over the single stage or just leave it, I know it's possible with
some ss paints.
Got a chuckle from the calendar in the pic.
I paid $1000 for mine, I've seen them pop up on Clist, or facebook marketplace for $5-700 since then, story of my life!
Not planning on using a clear, but I'm sure if I talked to someone from Sherwin Williams I could find something compatible. My buddy has sprayed some of this stuff, he got it in red, white, blue, and silver. He said it covered good, and layed down really nice. For what this car is going to be, the single stage will be fine, if it wasn't for me, this would just be someones parts car because of the strut towers.
 

Gs87GT

Active Member
Sep 25, 2019
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Penn's Woods
Good work so far! Looking good! Yes agree those strut towers are ugly. It's great you have the ability and skill to repair them yourself! Body work is super expensive. I wish I could do more of my own. I often thought about taking some night classes in auto body to learn more....but now I'm probably too old to bother. Lol. I'll stick to my wrenches. Lol

But looking great man!
 

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
Your moving right along on this project . When do you plan on painting??
I plan to have the quarter in primer this weekend, then I'm taking a break from it, I just built my garage last fall and I want to insulate and hang OSB on the ceiling and walls before it gets too cold. Then I'll be back on it, gotta pull the motor and trans to do the strut towers, fix some rust on the door bottoms and maybe fix a ding or 2, the rest of the body is in pretty good shape. I'm not going to do anything to the motor while it's out of the car, it runs strong the way it is, but I will rebuild the front suspension while it's apart. I want it back together, running and driving before paint so I can take it to work and paint it in the booth. My free gallon of paint says use by 3/30/2020, so that is my goal.
 
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Gs87GT

Active Member
Sep 25, 2019
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Penn's Woods
Good deal. You may want to consider at least regasketing the engine and painting it while it's out. You won't get a better time to do it. Especially the rear main engine seal.
 

Gravydog

Active Member
Oct 6, 2019
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Canton Ohio
Well, here's an update with more pics,
I put on a coat of regular body filler it's a light weight filler made by Upol, it sands pretty easy.
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All sanded and ready for a coat of glaze
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A coat of Upol dolphin glaze
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All sanded and masked for primer
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This is what I'm using for primer, it's PPG's value line.
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