MCODave
MCODave None
9/10/10 1:48 p.m.

Ok, I know I should know better, but I still am tempted by the idea of a 5-speed 3rd generation F body. I am aware that (unless it is modified or I get really lucky) it will have to have the 305, which I am ok with. I started looking at Trans-Am’s but found a couple of Formula Firebirds that might fit the bill:

http://orlando.craigslist.org/cto/1943858681.html http://orlando.craigslist.org/cto/1946507611.html

I am more inclined to the black one as it looks more original and appears to lack T-tops which I would rather avoid. I found out that all Formula’s of that vintage have WS6 suspensions, which surprised me because it was optional on the regular Trans Am (but standard on the GTA). So a Formula has all the performance parts of a Trans-am, just not all the appearance and luxury stuff.

The purpose of the car is just to have a fun cheap car I can drive, work on, and autocross on the weekend. I have already owned a 2nd gen. and 4th gen F-body, plus an ‘89 C4 corvette, so I have experience with the older, newer and faster versions of this car if you will. Plus of course I have ridden in plenty of these ‘back in the day’ so I kinda know what to expect.

Now the downside – I have heard that the 305 is a wheezer, the body is flexible (although the slicktop would be better in that regard) and that the rear end is marginal and no cheap junkyard swaps will work. I don’t plan on doing anything expensive in the way of upgrades, maybe just suspension and exhaust. I don’t want to end up with the worlds most expensive 88 Formula when a few bucks more would get a decent C4.

So the question is – would you or wouldn’t you? If you wouldn’t – what would you suggest? Is the contemporary 5.0 mustang a better bet?

tuna55
tuna55 Dork
9/10/10 2:08 p.m.

I would, I had one (well, a Camaro) that ran 12.76 on that weak stock rear end on 3.23s, with a swapped in 400 and TH350. We had maybe $2200 in the car including paint.

Spinout007
Spinout007 Dork
9/10/10 2:18 p.m.

A fox notch would probably be better in a straight line. But if you're hunting curves or cones in this case, IMO the formula will be the better car. Axles and a good LSD will take care of the rear unless you want to go faster than 12's. I personally am a fan of the 305. Vortec heads, short ram intake and a cam. Stick to 3:23's Orr numerically lower gears with the stock tpi setup, as they work better with the torque curve of that intake, that and they should return pretty decent mileage for DD duty. You can fit a decent amount of rubber under them, just remember front and rears have different offsets. And every new TA that was sold paid a royalty to the TA racing body, hence the higher price tag. GM just passed the buck on to the buyer, for using the TA name. That and like you already noticed. They tend to be more heavily optioned.

Spinout007
Spinout007 Dork
9/10/10 2:22 p.m.

Oh yeah... subframe connectors and strut tower brace will stiffen things right up.

ClemSparks
ClemSparks SuperDork
9/10/10 2:28 p.m.

A fuel injected, 5 speed thirdgen would be fun. (says the guy with a carbureted 5 speed...now -50-powered thirdgen).

I've always thought it would be MUCH easier to get a 305/T5 car and put a 350 long block in it than it would be to get a 350/700r4 car and swap a 5 speed into it.

I've never been big on T/As...but the Formula had the right "formula" for me (the options I want without the ones that I don't).

My LG4 (low-po carbureted) 305 T5 Camaro was a lot of fun. Not as fast as a 5.0 HO Mustang, but it made the right noises (had the right number of cylinders) and had the right number of pedals for me when I was in college.

Clem

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds New Reader
9/10/10 5:33 p.m.

The stock rear shouldn't give trouble unless you trade the autox course for the strip. There are plenty of chassis upgrades available starting pretty cheap. It won't handle like a C4 but can be fun anyway. FWIW the HO engine may not be the same as the TPI; neither is fast but the TPI might be preferable for more torque. The worst thing about 3rd gen is poor seats - look for a set of 4th-gens as an upgrade and by far the easiest seat swap, or maybe a dead 3rd-gen Recaro TA or Pace car as a donor.

Junkyard_Dog
Junkyard_Dog Dork
9/10/10 6:14 p.m.
MCODave wrote: the rear end is marginal and no cheap junkyard swaps will work.

Is a 4th gen too wide?

conesare2seconds wrote: The worst thing about 3rd gen is poor seats - look for a set of 4th-gens as an upgrade

Shameless plug

Dav
Dav New Reader
9/10/10 7:20 p.m.

I am a closet F-body lover--I have owned 3 including an '01 1SC Z28 that I bought new.

I too was considering a 3rd-gen 305 5-spd car--but I recently bought a one owner, completely stock, '89 Mustang 5.0 LX... and have promptly thrown the Maximum Motorsports catalog at it... . It is now a pretty fun car.

tuna55
tuna55 Dork
9/10/10 7:33 p.m.

Added to my first comment - we used a carb - screw that expensive not-that-great TPI stuff.

Lugnut
Lugnut HalfDork
9/10/10 7:47 p.m.

That white/black two tone is really cool. I have a thing for the black roof. I want a manual F-body but my wife says they are wife-beater cars. She tells me I should get another MR2. MR2 vs F-body... No no no nevermind! Forget I said anything.

Junkyard_Dog
Junkyard_Dog Dork
9/10/10 7:49 p.m.
Lugnut wrote: That white/black two tone is really cool. I have a thing for the black roof. I want a manual F-body but my wife says they are wife-beater cars. She tells me I should get another MR2. MR2 vs F-body... No no no nevermind! Forget I said anything.

Beat her up and buy what you want

bentvalve
bentvalve New Reader
9/10/10 10:21 p.m.

I've always liked that body style. Very 1980's, but I mean that as a complement. I remember reading some book (maybe How to make your car handle) and they author threw the moon at a mustang and it turned out to be a pig he took a similar vintage Camaro and basically threw shocks, tires and an alignment at it and it was pulling over 1g. That being said mustangs are the only pony car I've ever had, but I'll take a formula in yellow.

novaderrik
novaderrik Reader
9/11/10 4:45 a.m.
Junkyard_Dog wrote:
MCODave wrote: the rear end is marginal and no cheap junkyard swaps will work.

Is a 4th gen too wide?

conesare2seconds wrote: The worst thing about 3rd gen is poor seats - look for a set of 4th-gens as an upgrade

Shameless plug

the 4th gen F body rears are a couple of inches wider over all, but i believe all the mounting points are in the same locations. but other than the disc brakes on the 98-02 rears, slightly larger ring gear (7.625 vs the older 7.5) and 28 spline axles (vs 26 on the 7.5 in a third gen), they are the same thing with all the same weaknesses.

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
9/11/10 7:10 a.m.
Lugnut wrote: That white/black two tone is really cool.

I wonder where they got the idea...

I must admit that I would love to own the very car you seek someday, just because Knight Rider was my favorite show when I was a kid.

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