Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
January 4, 2010
Photos By: The Mustang Monthly Archives

Tear-Apart Party
Jeff Speegle suggests that you get someone else, perhaps a judge from your area or an expert from your local club, to look at your car before entering it in a judged show. "That's free advice," says Speegle. "Years ago, we used to have 'tear-apart parties' where you'd invite all your judge friends over. Give them a hamburger for lunch and a sheet of paper, then tell them to tear your car apart. People would say they couldn't believe we did that, but it saves time, effort, and money because when the car goes to its first show, it's like it has been on the show circuit for a year. You've got to have a lot of guts because you're opening yourself up for criticism, but that's what you want."

In the Modified class, there are two major ways to earn points-take care of cleanliness and workmanship, and make plenty of tasteful modifications.

"Cleanliness and workmanship make up about 60 percent of the points in Modified," says Shorty Brown, Assistant National Head Judge for Modifieds. "In the engine compartment, you can be awarded up to a maximum of 20 points for cleanliness and workmanship. Many times when people don't earn an award in Modified, it's because their cleanliness is not up to par followed by workmanship. We look for the quality of paint, fit and finish, etc. One thing we see a lot is people not taking the time to strip their engine compartment before repainting. They just paint over the old paint-chips, rough surfaces, and all-and it stands out like the proverbial sore thumb."

Unlike concours classes where points are deducted for non-original parts, Modified rewards owners for their modifications by adding points, up to a maximum of 40 in each area of the car. That way, cars with fewer modifications still have an opportunity to win an award.

"In Modified, we don't care about what's original," Brown says. "In fact, if it's an original part, most of the time you won't get points for it. Points are awarded based on how much work you have to do to accomplish the mod. For example, a simple modification that clips or snaps on is worth three points. The next level is a minor modification that takes a little bit more work, maybe some disassembly or wire splicing, like an intake manifold or aftermarket electronic ignition. That gets you five points. A major modification is worth eight points; that's where you might have to do some sheetmetal cutting, extensive disassembly, or drilling holes. That includes an engine swap, Mustang II front suspension, or fuel injection on an early car."

Brown points out that you can earn plenty of points with simple modifications, like three points for a stainless steel license plate frame, a set of aftermarket valve-stem tips for the wheels, or a chrome radiator cap.

"The modification points only tally up to about 22 percent of the total," Brown says. "The balance is cleanliness, workmanship, and condition. That prevents someone from spending a ton of money on parts and winning even though the car is dirty and the workmanship is shoddy."

Good workmanship and attention to detail can also earn points in Modified. "If you add subframe connectors, make sure the welding is neat," Brown says. "When it comes to details, one thing that bugs me is owners of early Mustangs who don't take the time to tidy up the wiring in the trunk, like the taillight harnesses. You can buy inexpensive plastic tubing to dress up those areas."

Another easy way to gain points is to provide the judges with a list of the car's modifications. "Because there's no way for the judges to know all the conceivable modifications, we encourage the list by giving nine points," Brown notes. "All they have to do is have it on the car and available to the judges. It can be in a binder or as simple as something written on a piece of notebook paper."