1964 Ford Mustang Convertible - On The Road Again
Thanks To Volunteers At The Henry Ford, Mustang No. 1 Is Up And Running Again
Joe Boulton, a Dearborn Proving Grounds Transmission Garage supervisor, was called in to refurbish the C4. He found modest residue in the pan, the result of mild clutch wear and 37 years of fluid settling. Although the rubber seals were still pliable, he located new seals at a local parts store and installed them in the C4.
With the engine on a stand, the oil pan was removed to make sure there were no internal problems as a result of the pan damage. Thankfully, everything looked sound, so the oil-pickup screen was cleaned and a new oil-pump shaft installed before the pan was put back into place.
At this point, the temptation was to freshen up the engine and engine compartment. However, as Collum pointed out, the museum's mission is "to preserve, not restore," so the engine was simply cleaned as preparation for its reinstallation. The water pump didn't turn smoothly, so it was pulled to reveal heavy corrosion. An exact replacement pump, PN C40E-8505-A, was located and installed.
The generator was in perfect working condition, although the team had to read up on the old practice of "polarizing" the generator because no one was old enough to remember the procedure. The starter failed a routine bench test, so it was torn down and reassembled twice before it mysteriously started working. New points and plugs were installed and the carburetor was rebuilt.
Noting body damage repairs on the right front fender and left rear quarter, the team requested assistance from Ford's Global Paint Engineering engineers, who used an electronic paint-thickness gauge to find the anticipated .006-.008-inch paint thickness. Gunlock explains, "Because cars were not painted by robots in those days, it was expected, and found on Mustang No. 1, that the paint was a little thicker on horizontal surfaces, somewhat thinner on the sides, and thinnest on the lower sides where it was harder to reach with a spray gun." The paint engineers determined that Mustang No. 1 retains 90 percent of its original paint.
"The body fit is marginal by today's standards," Gunlock says. "The hood is high on one rear corner, and clearances to the fenders are not uniform. We agonized over fixing it, but Malcolm studied old pictures and determined it was always that way. Those old pictures even allowed Malcolm to confirm that the now repaired dent in the front fender was there in 1966 when Tucker traded the car back to Ford."
Not wanting to dismount the original tires from their rims, they located another set of rims and fitted them with reproduction 6.95x14 BFGs from Coker Tire. "The car will not drive again on its original tires," Gunlock explains, "but they will be reinstalled when the car goes on permanent display."
During our photo session with Mustang No. 1 at Greenfield Village, we had a chance to closely inspect, and even drive (see Hoofbeats, page 4), the historic convertible. It's not a concours car by any means-especially underneath and under the hood. Two years of driving in the Canadian far east (almost in the Greenland time zone) took its toll on the undercarriage, now exhibited as surface rust and the dinged-up exhaust system. The exterior paint has its share of nicks and chips, but the interior is almost perfect. Remarkably, the plasti-chrome on the instrument panel is like brand new.
As soon as Mustang No. 1's refurbishing was complete, the car was trucked to New York City for a Mustang 39th anniversary press conference at the New York Auto Show. During Ford's 100th anniversary celebration, the convertible was displayed at Greenfield Village, where it also participated in a couple of parades. Mustang No. 1 has also been invited to Nashville for the Mustang Club of America's 40th Anniversary Celebration.
After 37 years of mostly storage, it's great to see the first production Mustang, now on the road again, doing what it was designed to do in 1964-generate publicity for Ford's Mustang.