The Official Ford Mustang 5.0
The Fox-bodied Mustang came into being when the automotive world was on a rebound - coming off the overly emissions-conscious early '70s when performance was somewhat of a dirty word into the '80s when small imports offered snappy handling, light weights and impressive performance, despite the four-pots under their hoods. From 1979 to 1993, the Mustang became a favorite on the street and the drag strip, based on its relative affordability and the venerable 5.0 liter one could get for motivation. Today, the Fox-chassis is out of production, replace first by the Fox-4 and then by the SN-95 chassis. But the love of Blue Oval fans for the Fox Mustang is as strong as ever. Few publications have throughoughly told the story of this version of Ford's record-setting performer until now.
Al Kirschenbaum's 440-plus page tome is a comprehensive history by an automotive journalist who was covering Detroit's offerings long before the Fox came out and who was there throughout the platform's 15-year production life. Though a pre-publication ring bound copy is pictured, the final version will be a perfect-bound softcover. Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook is divided into two sections, Year by Year Overviews and Component Systems. A 22-page introduction provides production highlights, tells the story of the platform's development and offers VIN information, body, and engine codes and identification and an explanation of Ford's parts numbering system.
The seventeen chapters in Part One - Year by Year Overviews - give all the historical production statistics on each model year. Kirschenbaum's clear and direct writing presents factual information in a very ordered manner. Everything from body treatments, interior, packages and models to tables for production volumes, powertrains and specifications are given in-depth coverage. There are even specific chapters dedicated to the '93 Cobra, Cobra-R, and Special Service Vehicles. Throughout, the narrative gives tons of information on unique features, model year changes and the intent behind them.
For those well-versed in the history, Part Two offers the most detailed analysis yet in print of the component systems that comprised the Fox Mustangs. It breaks down the individual components into fifteen chapters, starting with the namesake Fox unit-body chassis. You've got it all - structural and finished paint difficulties encountered during production, exterior features, sunroof, T-tops, lighting, body add-ons and even a table listing the applications and styles for OE spoilers! Of course the heart of the matter is Chapter Nineteen - Engine. Starting off with the development of the small-block V8 in 1960, this chapter is filled with the minutiae (every componen, from cranks to heads) of every aspect of the 5.0-liter's lifeline. Specification tables, history and highlights, engine nomenclature and even the introduction of the modular motors is included. This will give the stock bench racers every bit of verbal ammos they'll need!
The remaining chapters in Part Two continue in the book's thorough manner, delving into engine subsystems (ignition, EEX, exhaust, etc.), suspension, transmission, wheels and tires and everything else that made up the Fox Mustang. When Kirschenbaum gets around to hot rodding the Mustang and aftermarket offerings, he gives generic overviews of the different styles of performance altering systems that are available and discusses the pros and cons of each, rather than providing dated how-to installation material. I find this refreshing because it's done in a manner that doesn't shove any one particular product down the reader's throat. Instead, the author gives enough information to be helpful if and when the time comes to make a decision on how to increase performance.
I could go on for a few more pages about this book, like how it's the first time anywhere where I"ve found charts listing the optimal shift points for the T-5 and SROD gearboxes, including all the different rear-end gear ratios. Stuff like that is as good as gold and there's plenty more where it came from. To call this an exhaustive undertaking is an understatement. Al Kirschenbaum's Mustang 5.0 Technical Reference & Performance Handbook now ranks as the definitive Fox Mustang fact source and more. It gets an off-the-scale 1-plus G rating on the "will it stick to my shelf?" meter. -Jim Dietzler