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How to Restore a 1967-68 Ford Mustang

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Written by Tom Fowler   



Introduction

This writer has owned a 1968 coupe when it was new and a 1967 coupe when it was old. There are some things to look for and to know when looking to buy one of these classic automobiles for restoration.

Things You Will Need:

Mechanical ability (or willingness to learn)

Passion

Patience

Realistic expectations

Tools

Workshop

Step 1:  Dealing yourself in.

The first thing you need to do is deal yourself into the “old car” game. Once you have done this, you need to understand that this is an expensive hobby that will require a lot of sweat, tears, time and money. But, if you are committed and passionate, it is a wonderful diversion from life’s real problems. You will learn much and meet some interesting like-minded people.

Step 2:  Looking to buy.

You have decided you want to restore a 1967 or ‘68 Mustang, for those are your favorite model years and you are aware that there are, to this day, many Mustang specialty parts houses. However, avoid the temptation to give in to the first flush of enthusiasm and purchase the first one you look at. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle considerations when planning to purchase a 40-year-old car.

Step 3:  The 1968 model

The ’68 model is similar in many ways to the ’67. But, there are a few interesting things this writer has learned. For one thing, the reflectors on the rear quarter panels. If you find a 1968 Mustang with chrome bordering them instead of painted metal, it was manufactured after February 15, 1968, making it a newer ’68. The 1967 model did not have this reflector. Also, ’67 models at times were constructed with previous year’s wiring harnesses and other parts. There was nothing bad about this when the cars rolled off of the assembly line, but keep in mind that, if you wish to restore your car and enter it into classic car contests, everything on and in it will have to be purely your model year, even if it was not originally constructed that way, if you expect to score high in judge’s ratings.

Step 4:  Suspension and cooling systems

Mustangs of both these years tended to sag in the rear end. The 289 engine and larger model had an extra leaf in the rear suspension to assist with this, but the smaller engine models did not. Also, cooling systems were not the best, often because the radiators were small. Aftermarket four row core radiators solved this problem, but reread step 3. Overheating problems were the death knell for automatic transmissions, as they would burn up when the engine overheated.

Step 5.  What to watch for.

When looking at a ‘67 or ‘68 Mustang, or any vintage automobile, look for rust around wheel wells and underneath, particularly the frame. If there is too much rust, pass on this one and look elsewhere, for there is a time when an old car is rusted beyond restoration. Do not worry too much about the paint job, glass and interior; all cosmetic items will be redone and/or replaced anyway. If the car will run at all, that is a plus. (Unless you plan to do it yourself, finding somebody to rebuild an engine from this era is not getting easier, for today’s generation of mechanics are trained to work on cars built many years newer). Any car this old will have a few dings in the body, but look closely to see if you can tell if your prospective purchase has been in a wreck. The current owner may not truthfully know.

Step 6. Rebuilding and living your dream.

If you are not scared off by reading this article, then go for it! This writer can testify that there is nothing more personally satisfying than bringing a classic car back from the dead while spending many pleasant hours working in the garage or workshop, listening to one’s favorite music and retreating from the real problems of life.

Tips:

Rebuild your car from the bottom up, inside out and do not store it outside in the weather.

Do as much of the mechanical work as your time, aptitude and skill level will allow. It’s much more fun to rebuild your own car than have somebody else do it.

If you are person of minimal skill but are determined to make this your hobby, buy a “practice” Mustang to work and learn on first, then take the time to find your dream car.

Find a Mustang specialty house and establish a relationship with them. Most persons that own or work in such a place share your Mustang passion and will offer invaluable information and encouragement as your rebuilder progresses along towards restoration.

Avoid making your ’67 or ’68 Mustang your everyday driver. Such a car has graduated to antique classic status and should be treated as such.

Warnings:

The old car game is very expensive and time consuming. Be certain you – and your spouse or significant other – understand this before investing.

No matter how much time and money you spend, your 1960’s Mustang will always be a 1960s Mustang. It may someday look new, but will never truly be new again. Know that going in.

Technology has changed greatly from the 1960s. Unleaded gasoline and radial tires are two changes that come immediately to mind. Working to keep the old technology in your car compatible with the new will be a major challenge. 

 

 






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