Flip This Car: 1992 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Convertible—Part Six

By Christopher Smith

October 07, 2012

 

The end of the road, one way or another
 
A full kaleidoscope of fall foliage is now present throughout Central Michigan. I know this because I can see it all quite clearly from my roofless Mustang. Yes, the 5.0 still hasn’t sold. And I suspect it’s not going to sell, at least until the spring when a new convertible season and through-the-winter restoration work present new opportunites to really get some cash out of this cow. The Mustang has been a great car as far as the fun aspect goes, but the flip aspect has been very disappointing for what I felt would be a sure thing.
 
A few Mustang owners warned me of this back in the very first segment of this series; talking about how there wasn’t anyone willing to shell out decent money for these cars. I’ve seen plenty of nicely built 5.0 Mustangs on the selling block for $8000 or more, but with an asking price of just half that for a reasonably nice, stock example of the breed, I expected more than just a series of tire kickers. Curiously, I suspect every single person who inquired about my 5.0 were flippers themselves, looking for a cheap ride that they could polish up and sell for a profit. One guy was even a little angry that I wouldn’t move more than a couple hundred bucks from my $4000 asking price. If that person happens to be reading this story, you’ll be happy to know that I still have the car, so yeah, I guess the egg is on my face for not taking your offer.
 
And darn it all, I’m stuck with a fun-to-drive, V-8 Mustang convertible that chain-smokes tires and sounds like a World War II B-17 raid over Germany. Yeah, the egg is on my face. It’s right there next to my big gaping smile.
 
So, why hasn’t the Mustang sold? I have two theories on that, the first being the convertible top, which is still the original, ratty, torn-up top that I bought it with. I know, how many times did I say I was going to replace it? Before summer really hit I was back and forth with either having a shop do the work, or tackling the job myself. Then it got warm. Really warm. And then it got dry. Really dry. For nearly a month the top stayed down, and when the top did go up, it wasn’t up for very long. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I was also facing the fact that I’d already invested my planned budget into the car, based on what I thought I could sell it for. I was very hesitant to go beyond that figure (which I’ll discuss in a bit) so I decided to motor on, to see if I could sell around the poor top.
 
Since I still have the car, obviously I came to a poor conclusion.
 
The second theory is actually a combination of factors. I started my sales campaign around the end of June, which is a little late to catch the summer convertible shoppers, so that was strike one. The car still had some surface rust down low that I hadn’t cleaned up, and I think that turned people away. The booming exhaust system, which gives this car such an attitude (and has been responsible for more compliments on this machine than just about any of the 30 or so cars I’ve had in the last 15 years) is a bit much for some buyers. More importantly on that point, it goes against what I believe is the target buyer for this car—someone not necessarily looking for a loud, neck snapping brute but a comfortable, aggressive summertime cruiser. Back in part four of the series I touched on this a bit, and I think that’s playing out now as I try to sell it.
 
So there it is. I’m still driving this car regularly and it’s been nothing but a reliable companion. In fact I’m not too far from rolling 128,000 miles, and with a steady diet of premium fuel this 20-year old 302 V-8 is still giving me 23 miles per gallon, despite semi-regular full-throttle acceleration runs. I finally tracked down a decently priced matching convertible boot about a month ago, but aside from that I’ve had no other expenses since part five. The car is technically still for sale, but if it doesn’t go in the next few weeks, I’m most likely going to park it in my shop for the winter and put it under the knife for a new reveal in the spring. That means I’ll be replacing the top (with all winter to work I should be able to get it right), going after the remaining few little rust spots, and generally elevating this car from a good looking, good running drop top to a great looking, investment-worthy ‘Stang.
 
Or, I just might take it ice racing after all. I still have those Nokians in the garage, and though this series is called Flip This Car, fun behind the wheel is still a big priority. And I’ll say—without hesitation—that this has been the most enjoyable “flip” vehicle I’ve had the pleasure to own. Therein lies another aspect to buying cheap cars, fixing them up and selling them; sometimes you kind of fall in love with your project. I’m not sure I love this Mustang, but if the resale market is going to be weak, I definitely don’t mind holding onto this one for awhile.
 
And that, folks, is a Flip This Car wrap. But before the last period goes down in this series I need to settle up the finances, since I never actually revealed my purchase price for this car. The new convertible top boot was $60 right on the nose, bringing my total parts investment to $1992.12. Since I’ve been trying to sell this car for $4000, can you guess what I originally paid for this Mustang?
 
Last November, I took the 5.0 home for $1800. I thought that was a steal, and honestly, I think $4000 for this car in its present shape is also a great price.
 
Add it all up, and well, for me it doesn’t really matter. I’ve now driven this car 10,000 miles, and it’s been a blast. It continues to be a blast. And if I have it next spring, I have no doubt it’ll be a blast until it finds a new home, be it next year, or five years from now. I might have to go long-term on this to make it a successful flip, but with a total investment of $3800 I have a sharp looking, strong running Mustang V-8 convertible. I’m not exactly hurting.
 
What’s next for Flip This Car? Honestly, a big part of that is up to you, the faithful Winding Road readers. For the first time in a decade, I don’t have any particular plans to jump into another used car adventure, but I suspect such adventures will find me anyway. Do you want to continue with me on the ride? Let me know in the comments. Perhaps there’s still a Nissan SE-R or a Neon R/T somewhere in the FTC future.
 
In any case, it’s truly been my pleasure to share this whole crazy Flip This Car adventure with all of you, from the first run with the 1989 Ford Taurus SHO, to the burly Buick Roadmaster, the ill-fated Subaru Legacy turbo and now this Mustang. New cars are nice, but each used vehicle has its own unique character that somehow transcends the nuts and bolts within. I love getting to know these characters, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share that love with gearheads and car lovers who understand.
 
 
1992 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Convertible
Vehicle status: Part of the family
Miles driven: 9915
Observed fuel economy: 23.0 mpg
Tire tread depth: 3/32 front, 4/32 rear
Broken parts since the last article: None
Total parts investment to date: $60 (new convertible top boot), $1932.12 (total from part five) = $1992.12
 
 
Need a Flip This Car review? Link back to the entire Mustang series or the archives to relive all the FTC goodness.