TFrog - 1993 Ford Mustang LX 5.0
TFrog


Been a long time coming - that's 250,000 miles on June 22, 2012

TFrog left the assembly plant on August 10, 1993.
It would eventually go beyond 260,000 miles and give me 19 years of joy.

2011 - Those are not dents in the photo - they're reflections. TFrog got a double coat of Mother's for its birthday. The fact that I had a week off helped! About a month ago, I took the car through the local car wash. The blowers at the end did not remove the standing water, and the hot sun on a cloudless July day burned the remaining soap into the paint. Not a good look. This was a hint that the car probably needed a good polish and wax. Still, it gets harder every passing year to keep this car black - while it looks fantastic in the morning and afternoon, the direct overhead sun exposes many flaws in the paint, including a swath on the top that looks more grey than black. There is definitely a paint job in TFrog's near future. Only within the past year, the center hubs on all four wheels started peeling. Also not a good look. Replacement caps are going to be central on my Christmas list this year!

Still, when all of the polishing rags are in the trash and the smell of carnuba lingers throughout the garage, I consider myself a fortunate man to have TWO 1993 Ford Mustangs at my disposal. My wife and I can tool about the countryside of southeastern Pennsylvania with the top down, and then I can take TFrog out for a proper romp. Happy birthday, Frog. Let's go for a drive!

TFrog and the Black Angi

TFrog at Maple Grove Raceway
TFrog at Maple Grove Raceway, site of its first 1/4 mile run

TFrog on Frogtown Road
Frogtown Road... Sometimes, you just have to pull over and take a picture.

Three photos above taken during a tour of southeastern Pennsylvania on August 28, 2008.
We now return to the regular TFrog page

TFROG
1993 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Hatchback, 5-speed manual
Bought new in September 1993

The Sound of TFrog (MP3)
Dynomax UltraFlo exhaust (tfrog.mp3, 761KB)
(You better have a subwoofer...)

1993 Ford Mustang 5.0 LX

TFrog was a fantastic car when new, and the first car that I ever took to the track. While my results were disappointing (15.2 @ 92mph), the car was a hoot to drive and still is today.

TFrog Window Sticker

Almost immediately, the litany of upgrades began.

PowerSlots
The stock rotors on these 5.0's were pathetic. With all of that get-up-and-go, TFrog needed to be able to shut down quickly. Doing a panic stop from 70mph created huge billows of white smoke and immediate warping of the stock rotors - and, frankly, I often wondered whether I'd be able to stop in time. Back in '94-'95, I checked into something new - PowerSlot rotors. The claim was that these upgrades would greatly increase my stopping power and decrease the chance of overheating. With a pair of these on the front, along with performance brake pads, I never had to worry again about being able to stop. They are fantastic, they do what they claim to do, and I highly recommend them. Both of my Mustangs now wear them up front, and I replace them every 2 to 3 years (never resurfaced).

Suspension
After upgrading the brakes, the weak link became the suspension, equally mediocre on these cars. Drive a 5.0 for any length of time, and you'll soon feel the rear end of the car deciding to go its own way. The 5.0's are basically two pieces stuck together - front and back. Add floaty springs and inferior components, and the suspension becomes your worst enemy. In 1996, I had the "BBK Stage III Performance Suspension" package installed on the car. From Brothers Performance, this was made up of BBK's subframe connectors (welded in, thanks) and strut tower brace, BBK lowering springs, and I opted for a set of Monroe performance struts and shocks. (A mistake, corrected one year later with an upgrade to Konis.) The result was a very stiff ride, a car that felt like a solid, single piece, and the true feeling of "riding on rails" through the tightest turns. As much as I enjoyed playing with the 1/4 mile, my favorite driving has always been the lonely, winding two-lane asphalt out in the hinterlands. With the PowerSlots and the suspension upgrade, TFrog became a great road-handling machine.


Although I've tried any number of other treatments, TFrog is a Mother's car.
I love the smell of carnuba in the morning.

Transmission
Somewhere around 1999 (1998?), TFrog entered "maintenance mode." The car was now about six years old with over 90,000 miles on it, and things started breaking.

One of the biggest pains was the clutch. When the stock clutch wore out (somewhere around 45,000 miles), I immediately upgraded to something called a King Cobra clutch (which I thought was from Ford, but came in a Zoom box). That didn't last long. But finding replacement clutches, flywheels, and adjustible quandrants for the 5.0s is not a problem - finding someone capable of INSTALLING them is! I've been through no less than four shops (including a Ford dealership) and been utterly disappointed every time. Two of the shops even installed extra thingamabobs that did NOT come as standard equipment on this car (Ford only built 1,000,000 of these Fox Mustangs).

The old joke about the man who buys an ill-fitting suit and then has to learn how to walk so that the suit hangs right...? That was me. I had about given up on finding a competent transmission mechanic and was driving a TFrog with no usable 2nd gear. Meanwhile, we had moved out to our new home in "God's Country", so all of these tranny morons were behind me. When the clutch shudder starting up on a hill in 1st gear became unbearable, I finally bit the bullet and asked around for a good shop in my new locale. The one recommended to me was Chester County Transmissions. God knows, I can bitch when someone screws up my car, but I can also praise someone for doing something right. And these guys rebuilt TFrog's transmission very well. Shifting was a joy again. They are very good, very professional. Not cheap, but good. For anyone in Southeastern Pennsylvania, I strongly recommend them.

Update... About one year after the rebuild, I started getting the old clutch shudder starting up in first gear (especially on an uphill). When the clutch started slipping in the upper gears, I considered taking it back to Chester County for a new clutch install, but ended up handing it off to my (new) local mechanic. The man turned out to be a magician - TFrog's transmission now works as well as the day it came off the assembly line, and for the first time in many, many years. I have been highly pleased with this mechanic (heck, he's even a Fox 5.0 guy, himself), but his work on the transmission went far beyond my expectations (or hopes). Shout out to Advanced Automotive & Performance in West Chester, PA. My highest recommendation.

Ford Mustang 5.0 LX

Illumination
As the 5.0s age (well, it's also common to far too many cars out there), they tend to develop glaucoma. The headlights glaze over, greatly reducing nighttime visibility. In fact, night driving (which I particularly enjoy) became a bit too adventuresome.

Some folks like to take a nice polishing glaze and go at 'em. They'll spend hours hand-rubbing those lenses, trying to get back some of the clarity they used to have. I'm not built that way. Of course, I don't often take up tools, either, but my solution to this problem was to order in an all-new set of lenses for the front of the car. (After all, TFrog's going to be with me for quite a while yet, knock wood.)

My favorite source for these kinds of parts is Mustangs Unlimited. (Mostly because I'm an instant-gratification type of guy, and MU has parts delivered to me the next business day.) I ordered in complete left and right assemblies and popped them in in about three hours. (Someone who knows what different tools are used for could probably do it in under an hour.) The results were, well, striking.

mustang headlights

Rubber
TFrog has amassed a thick file of repair bills and work orders over the past 15 years. One of the constants has been tires, which never seem to last more than about 18,000 miles (go figure). TFrog came clad originally with Michelin unidirectional tires, but the sticker shock on the first replacement set was stunning - along with the realization that $150 tires don't last very long. With the second replacement set, I began a love affair with BF Goodrich Comp T/As in a VR rating. After several sets of these (excellent) shoes, I tried the new Goodrich g-Force T/A KDWS. (Discontinued? Now T/A KDW.) Love 'em. (Hold on, I gotta go to Tire Rack and write a review.) The fact that they're only $102/each in my size doesn't hurt, either. I just think they're fantastic in wet or dry - even some snow. Cornering is superb, road noise is low, and they're quick and agile. In fact, having just read a negative review (written, presumably, about a set of tires overdue for replacement), I have to say that they're not for everyone. Neither are performance automobiles. (In other words, don't blame these tires.)

1993 Ford Mustang 5.0 LX
TFrog at "the most photographed covered bridge in Delaware County, PA"

Endurance
I could go on and on. The various water pumps (come to think of it, I'm probably due for another), multiple replacement batteries, air pump, upgraded radiator and Motorsport hoses, the tie rod ends, the brief flirtation with a K&N air filter before going back to normal, cheap, replace-every-season air filters... In 2006, the catalytic converters failed the Pennsylvania emissions test for the first time. TFrog now sports a Dynomax H-pipe with "performance" cats that hooks into the Dynomax UltraFlo exhaust.

The black paint that becomes harder every year to return to black. The long list of annoying things that break but aren't worth fixing (ash tray lid, plastic cover in the rear over the left shock tower, flop-down mirror on the passenger side visor where the Velcro has given out, etc.).

Every passing year, my wife thinks I'm increasingly crazy to keep this car. Now with over 238,000 miles and soon eligible for "Classic" plates, TFrog is showing its age. Granted, it seems to need repairs too often, but this is a well-used car and I didn't buy a Mustang to take it easy on the car. Even so, add up the cost of maintenance and repair on this car during the course of a year, and it would cost more to lease a disposable Kia. And I get to drive a 5.0 Mustang that is fast, fun, and still pastes that stupid grin on my face every time I fire it up.

TFrog passed away on November 10, 2012, after a long, debilitating illness.

twin 1993 Mustangs

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dwight munroe
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