Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
April 28, 2014

We can all be a little envious of those that tear through a project in just a few months due to having an excess of time, cash, talent, or a combination of the three. On the other end of the spectrum are the life-long projects that sit and wait for kids to go to college, for the house to get paid off, or for a business to become profitable. Whatever the reason, the car often ends up taking decades to build with many stoppages and even the occasional for sale sign in the car's window along the way. This month, reader Jim Dixon of Oxford, Mississippi, has just such a project—his '65 Mustang coupe that started as a project way back in 1979!

Jim tells us that his intention was to restore the car "better than the day it came off the factory assembly line." Notice we said intention.

"In the spring of 1979, I pulled this car from my grandparent's farm in western New York and trailered it to Rhode Island where I was living and working at the time," Jim tells us. He replaced a lot of the rusted and damaged sheetmetal and hung new fenders on the coupe; all this before he headed to college the next year. In 1983, Jim's parents moved back to Pennsylvania, taking the car with them, and storing it for him. Then his parents moved to Ohio in 1985, where Jim's father decided he was going to finish the car. Jim's father built a 289 and C4 automatic for the car and installed them. Five more years rolls by and Jim, having graduated college in 1990, relocated to Mississippi. He trailered the car once again from his parent's garage to his new home to continue working on it.

It took Jim until 1997 to finally get the body work completed and the car painted, only to come home from work one night to find that his two-year-old son, Coleman, had taken a body hammer to the side of the car and dented in the style line from the front to rear on the righthand side of the car. The car sat once again while life moved on, and Jim decided to sell the Mustang in 2002. However, Jim's father asked for the car back.

"So I trailer the unfinished car back to Ohio for him to complete. Fast forward 10 years to 2012, the car is almost in the same state as it was in 2002. I have to move my father into a retirement village and sell off most of his belongs. It looks like the Mustang is going to be sold in an unfinished state to some lucky buyer. However, at the request of Coleman, my body-hammer-wielding son, he wants it back so we can finish it and he can drive it his senior year of high school," Jim explains. Over the course of three decades Jim estimates the car travelled more than 4,200 miles and never burned a drop of gas! In the fall of 2012, the 289 that had been rebuilt in 1985 fired up for the first time and Jim and his son have been working on the car in earnest ever since.

Jim has enjoyed getting the project on the road finally and would like to give a special shout out to CJ Pony Parts, his main source of parts for the project. He said that the folks at Hydratech Braking and the guys at Old Air Products were extremely helpful as well. Future upgrades over the next year or two will be a set of high back bucket seats for more comfort and safety and possibly a T-5 five-speed transmission for better fuel economy.

Quick Specs

289ci V-8
Four-barrel intake
Holley four-barrel carburetor
Electronic ignition conversion
C4 automatic transmission
Wilwood disc brakes
Hydratech hydraulic brake assist
Borgeson power steering conversion
American Racing Torque Thrust II wheels, 17x8
Old Air Products under dash A/C
Three-point seatbelts
Custom white/dark blue two-tone interior
Auto-dimming rearview mirror w/ compass
20-gallon fuel tank conversion
Six-gauge dash bezel conversion
Pioneer double-DIN DVD custom in-dash install

Electronic Files

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