Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Plan

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback restoration plan Anyone who owns a classic that needs 'some work' like ours does ends up asking the same question: will this be a rolling restoration or an honest tear-down and rebuild. Given the condition of our car, we chose Door #2. So, where to start? Well, all the advice I've read so far says to fix the worst first and work up from there. If the car needs paint or body work, this typically means metalwork is first - rust, accident damage, etc. Get a good solid body as a foundation and then start rebuilding the systems as needed. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect flow of disassembly and reassembly, and in the end I decided there is no single good answer - it just depends on what the car needs and what you can start with. I have a rough plan, and I'm sure it'll change as we go along, but it's important to have a map of where you're going so you don't end up redoing a bunch of work or missing some critical step. My advice here is take the time to get a plan before tearing it all apart. And for 67 and up owners, you need to get a Marti report.

Here's a rough list of what I know needs to be done:
Interior refresh - it's musty and smelly, and anything soft needs to be replaced.
Engine rebuild - the original owner mentioned some issues that need to be fixed since the last rebuild which was only a few hundred miles and thirty years ago.
Repaint - there's a lot of little body issues, and the paint is shot. There's a little rust under the hood in the usual spots, the apron overlaps and the battery that little spot above the right rear wheel-well.
Suspension - all the springs and rubber bits in them are rotted away. A new GT suspension seems in order.
Brakes - they're seized and worn, and the master cylinder has one empty chamber. The disc/drum setup should stay, but it all needs to be overhauled.
Electrical - I don't trust wiring that's nearly 50 years old. There are plenty of OEM and aftermarket solutions to this problem. I'd hate to get this all mechanically put together and then spend all my days chasing bad grounds and weak connectors. Plus, at heart I'm an electrical guy. It's the one skill set I can bring to this party. The rest of this will have to learned along the way.

I'm going to tear it down and rebuild it. I'm going to find what's broken, worn, moldy, bent. and rusted. My intention is to clean and rebuild what we can if it's original to the car, and replace what can't be saved. Some systems will be upgraded for modern convenience, like the A/C and the electrical wiring, but others will stay period correct, like the suspension and the interior. I'd like to keep the 289 engine that came with it and the old top loader 4-speed transmission.  I'm not going for a concours restoration because I don't want to get hung up on date codes and bolt finishes - my OCD tendencies would keep me from ever getting anything done otherwise. I want to learn as much as I can about the car and how it's put together. I want to learn as many skills as I can along the way. I want the finished product to be safe, reliable, and fun while retaining the character of a classic 60's muscle car. I want to drive it and enjoy it. 

So,let's get started.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Enough talk about chemical warfare. Let's take a close look and see what we have here. 

It's a 1967 Mustang Fastback 2+2, with the GT package, and lots of options inside and out. While the car came with a slew of documentation from the original owner, including a window sticker copy, I hadn't yet ordered the Marti Report for the car (that'll come later..).  

1967 Mustang window sticker

Of the more than 470,000 Mustangs produced in 1967, just over 17,000 were Luxury Fastbacks (the 'luxury' here referring to the type of interior trim - luxury or standard). Coupes outnumbered Fastbacks roughly five to one. This car appears to have more options than I'd ever seen on a car, enough to more than double the price of the car. The biggie, a 'special order induction system' clocks in at nearly $900 on a $2600 car. What in the world is that? (hint...I'll tell you later...)

Walking around the car, I found a lot of the options listed:

Exterior Decor Group -  including a hood with rear-facing louvers that contained turn signal indicators, wheel-well moldings as well as a pop-open gas cap. Those hood pins are not part of the package.

1967 mustang hood pins and turn signal hood

1967 mustang gt gas cap

The GT package which included the grille mounted fog lamps, power front disc brakes, dual exhausts, GT gas cap, handling package, rocker panel stripes, and GT emblems. Also installed is the ribbed taillight panel. The lit horse corral was an option that, as far as I can tell, very few people ordered - with good reason.

67 mustang gt emblems and stripes

1967 mustang fastback rear taillight ribbed panel

67 mustang illuminated corral

And then the interior options are abundant as well.

The Deluxe Interior includes the aluminum inserts in the dash, door panels and consoles if equipped. Which this one is - both upper and lower consoles are in place.

67 mustang deluxe interior brushed aluminium

The seats are trimmed in a vinyl called 'Comfort-weave' and have chrome emblems and hard plastic backs with chrome trim instead of the vinyl covered backs. The pony interior died with the 1966 model. Also included are the fold-down rear seat, 3-point front seat belts (yeah, 'optional'!), and some fun bits like the tilt-away steering column, Air Conditioning, and the 8,000 RPM tach.

67 mustang original 3-point seat belts

67 mustang deluxe interior door trim

67 mustang 8000 rpm tach

67 mustang deluxe interior seats

The new car smell has been replaced with something like a mixture of mold, smoke and mouse pee. A box of baking soda is not enough to fix that.

The drive-train is just about perfect, aside from the decades of decay and gunk.

The engine is a 289 V8, power steering, power brakes, and a neat intake that has three 2-barrel carbs on it called a Ford Tri-Power. Looks cool, but multiple carbs are notoriously tricky to tune correctly, and even more so at a mile above sea level.

67 ford mustang tri-power 3x2 carbs

The transmission looks to be the venerable four speed Top Loader, and the rear end is the tough Ford 9-inch, a favorite of hot-rodders everywhere.

67 mustang 9 inch rear end

(Oops - might be skipping a little ahead with this shot...)

Now the bad news..
The paint is shot, cracked, chipped, and faded, no amount of waxing will save it. So we'll need to paint it. And for the record, the original color is called Vintage Burgundy (paint code X) and I swear it's purple in the worst way. I'd like to change that if we can, and since SWMBO gets to choose the color (that's the deal we made) I'm likely to get her agreement on that one. Seriously, purple? Ah, the 60's...

1967 mustang vintage burgandy

There are some dents in the roof, the rear end of the hood doesn't quite set right, and the VIN number has been etched into all the glass and body panels with a home etching tool. The windshield is cracked, there's some accident damage at the back, and on and on. The worst issue found so far is the rusted out hole in the rear passenger side wheel well, what is technically referred to in the classic car restoration world as "a significant bummer".

1967 mustang rear wheel well

From underneath, there is precious little rust in the floors, frame rails, and rockers. No undercoating that looks to be hiding the typical trouble spots. No rust bucket here!

67 mustang floorpans

The car is a good thirty-footer, but any closer and you'll start seeing the warts. So, it's complete but needs a lot of work to bring it back to it's former mass-produced glory.

So now I just need to decide what direction we're going with the project. I'm still a little worried I'm sitting on a super-rare example due to that K in the VIN. I don't want to screw up on a 1 of 1 car. Need to get that Marti report...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bug Bombing

OK, so the new project is in the garage and I'm trying to figure out exactly where I'm going to start. I've been crawling around/under/over/inside the car for a while, looking at the condition and making sure there wasn't something "new and not awesome" waiting for me. The floors looked good, the cowl passed the leak test, and most of the the other typical Mustang afflictions were either not there or not bad. But I was noticing that every time I'd poke around at the car, especially in the engine bay and near the rear axle, I kept finding little dead spiders. And spider webs. And spider egg sacks. This is a shot where the rear shock absorbers mount to the floor pan.

I hadn't seen a live spider yet, but after having the car sitting in the garage for a few weeks, I started noticing little webs from the car to the floor. That was enough. Clearly something from the arachnid family was still stalking around in the car. I assumed there were at least a million of them. I decided the first step in our restoration was some good old-fashioned chemical warfare.

But it's not enough to just get a can of Raid and go spraying what could be seen. This car has sat still for nearly 30 years - there are likely lots of nasty little squatters and nest-builders in there. The overkill solution I settled on was a couple of fogging cans and a monstrous tarp from Communist Sweatshop Harbor Freight Tools. God bless 'em, they had a cheap 20' x 30' tarp that was plenty big enough to make a tent around the Mustang (might've fit two cars under there, but for $25, who cares if it's too big?) I even rolled the windows down and made sure there was plenty of airflow to let all the little terrors inside get their fair share of airborne death.

So, tent the car, put the fogging cans on some shoe box lids to keep them upright, pop the tops, hold your breath, and slide those little suckers under the tarp - quick like a bunny - one under the engine bay, and the other just in front of the rear axle. The best part is that with all the noise of the fogging cans hissing under the tarp, you couldn't hear the spiders gasping their last and going to that great big web in the sky. I waited three days before I uncovered the car. And what do you know - no more new webs were showing up under the car anymore. But later as I disassemble the car, I'll find spider carcasses in nearly every single crevice. I even found one between a u-joint and the drive shaft.  As far as effectiveness, I give this eight thumbs up! (OK, that's bad, I know...)

Monday, September 8, 2014

The beginning of the story

I've always wanted a classic Mustang. When I was 14 or so, my dad took me to a car show at a local Ford dealer, and there were several nicely restored examples on display. One of them, a red '66 Fastback, was fully restored - I'd never seen anything like it. When the owner saw me staring slack-jawed at his car, he invited me to sit in the drivers seat. Everything was perfect, all the chrome shone like the new, and there were even little factory instructional tags and labels attached to the interior controls. It was pretty amazing, and made quite an impression on me.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and while I still harbored a desire to own and tinker with a classic of my own, I've made precious little progress towards this goal. I did, however, finally have a house with a garage, and was no longer in college while working full-time. I'd see old Mustangs advertised in the classifieds, and was always surprised at how much they were going for - in high school, I remember these cars going for $1,000 or less, and now even the beaters were advertised at four and five thousand! And a good, solid running example would be listed for as much as a new car.  Granted, living in the desert southwest means you're likely to come across more rust-free examples, but still the prices seemed out of reach. Maybe I'd take up golf instead...

At the same time I'm thinking I need to start shopping for my first putter, Brett, a friend of mine from work, had managed to drag home a new project car and invited a bunch of us over to his house at lunchtime to look it over. Brett's a Honda guy, but he and his wife thought it would be fun to tinker with an old classic muscle car and through a series of lucky conversations and encounters, ended up with this - a 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback, with a 289 V-8, four speed top-loader, and the most sickly shade of burgundy I'd ever laid eyes on. It was gorgeous:

1967 Mustang Fastback

It was one of those stories you hear about, but always happen to someone else - a chance encounter with guy who has more cars than time, and sells it for a song just to clear out some space. More than that though, this guy was the original owner of the car, lots of documentation, and the car had been essentially parked in his barn (I know, I know...) in Colorado since 1984. Some guys have all the luck, right?

1967 Mustang Fastback Interior

About a year later, my friend decides five cars and two kids are too much, so one of the cars has to go.  I tell him don't sell it without talking to me first. A week later, he's helping me unload it in my garage. It happened so fast, I only have a few pictures of it in daylight before throwing the Fastback in my garage. (Unbelievable! A Fastback! In MY garage! I kept peeking out there at it!). That was the Summer of 2011.

1967 Mustang Fastback

1967 Mustang Fastback

Now I just had to figure out what I'm going to do with it. I let it sit there for fully 5 months while I decided what I was going to do. Rolling Restoration, Daily Driver, Full-blown disassembly and rebuild? Why should this take so long? Because the VIN on this particular '67 Fastback had a 'K' in the Engine Code slot, denoting a very rare breed of '67 Fastback - one with the High Performance 271 hp 289 engine, same as the Shelby GT350's of the same year - except there were more Shelby GT350's from 1967 than there were K-code Fastbacks. Was I about to spoil some special, ultra-rare car? Should I even keep it? And It appeared that some sort of hopped-up 289 was in there - the cool Ford Tri-Power intake, the hi-po exhaust manifolds, and the big 9-inch rear end. Per the original owner, the engine is a race motor pulled out of another old Ford, and was running high compression pistons and electric fuel delivery.

1967 Mustang Fastback 289 V8

In the end, I decided the right answer was to take it all apart, clean it up, and put it all together again. First, the car is covered in decades worth of dirt/oil/dust and everything is in need of a thorough cleaning although precious little rust (on first inspection). Second, if the car hasn't driven in 30 years, every system needs to be touched - brakes, suspension, electrical, fuel, and every gasket and seal would be shot. Regardless of the engine code, I've never driven this car and it's clearly not anywhere near roadworthy in it's current condition. To top it off, there is a lot of evidence of spiders and mice making themselves right at home in the car. That's gotta stop right quick.

That was about three years ago. As of today, we are well underway. I've got a rough Order of Battle, and a good idea of what I want to end up with when I'm done with the car (remember, I took months just thinking about this).  I work on it when I get the chance. I've learned more about the car's history from the original owner, and have finally decided that this is my car, and I get to do it how I want. There's no due date, but I'm not getting younger, so the blog is a way to help keep track of progress when it's happening, prod me to work on it when I'm slacking off, and hopefully inform/inspire/warn others about what's involved in a project of this scale.

Brett warned me when I was looking at buying the car: "You'll turn every bolt and nut on this car before you're done."  I'm thinking he's exactly right.