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'65-'73 Mustang Street Survival Guide
How to live with (and enjoy) your vintage Mustang on the street
All Steel, All The Time
Today's automotive fuels are hard on fuel systems. Additives attack rubber components, which increases the risk of fuel leakage and fire. To prevent fuel leakage, hard-line your Mustang's fuel system where it counts: underhood. Prior to 1967, Mustangs were hard-lined between the fuel pump and carburetor, with no rubber hoses under pressure. Beginning in 1967, Ford went to a rubber hose between the fuel line and carburetor. Where possible, consider the use of pre-'67 fuel lines and carburetors on your classic Mustang. If you can't hard-line between the fuel pump and carburetor, consider using heavy-duty braided fuel hoses and clamps.
Path Less Traveled
Another concern is fuel-line routing on '65 through early '67 Mustangs. The chassis line runs along the rocker panel and floorpan until it reaches the left front framerail extension. This is where the fuel line takes an unpleasant turn toward the left framerail, making it vulnerable to road debris and more. We suggest using the late-'67-'68 chassis fuel line, which was revised by Ford for safety. It runs along the rocker panel and floorpan, then through the torque box (which doesn't exist on '65-'66 hardtops and fastbacks). The way this line is routed keeps it, and you, out of harm's way.
Build A Fuelie
More and more folks are shelving carburetors and iron manifolds in exchange for electronic fuel injection. The easiest way to get there is with used components from late-model, fuel-injected 5.0L High Output V-8s. You can perform this conversion on your vintage 289, 302, or 351W, or you can do an entire powertrain swap. The late-model 5.0L engine drops right onto your Mustang's engine mounts, but you have to figure out where you intend to place the engine's electronic control module (most install it inside the vehicle under the dashboard on the righthand side). This isn't black magic--converting your classic Mustang to electronic fuel injection is simple and doable as long as you don't let it intimidate you. Check your state's motor vehicle emissions laws to make sure it's street legal. Salvage yards are full of donor vehicles and engines, and Ron Morris Performance can set you up with everything you'll need to get it pulsing.
Electronic Ignition: Many Choices
If you're going to drive a classic Mustang daily or even as a weekend pleasure cruiser, that old point-triggered ignition system has to go. Points burn and rubbing blocks wear out. Save yourself a lot of grief by retrofitting your classic Mustang with electronic ignition. You can opt for Ford's DuraSpark ignition, which involves the distributor and an ignition module. DuraSpark is available new and used.
There is a variety of aftermarket ignition systems available for vintage Mustangs. Both ACCEL and PerTronix offer drop-in electronic ignition modules for point-triggered factory and aftermarket distributors. Drop one in, set the air gap, and forget it. The PerTronix Ignitor and Ignitor II have an excellent reputation for performance and reliability even in worn-out distributors.
MSD, Mallory, and ACCEL offer excellent high-performance distributors that drop right into your Ford small-block or big-block engine. Street engines need distributors equipped with vacuum-advance units for best results. Not much is available from the aftermarket for 170ci and 200ci six-cylinder engines. However, PerTronix and ACCEL drop-in electronic ignition conversions work well in the stock distributors, improving six-cylinder performance considerably.
It's a wonder we stayed safe with the bias-ply and bias-belted tires Ford originally installed on our Mustangs. Bias-ply tires simply aren't an option if safety is important. We stress this because most of us have become used to radial tires over the past 25 years. Going from radial back to bias-belted tires becomes dangerous because we aren't ready for the sluggishness of bias-ply and belted tires.
Today, there are plenty of white-sidewall, belted metric radials out there that keep the factory attitude without losing handling qualities. For those with Mach 1s, Bosses, Shelbys, and GTs, the selection gets even better with the Goodyear Eagle GT, BFGoodrich Radial T/A, and others. These tires, when properly inflated, balanced, and rotated, offer excellent wear and handling.
Coker Tire offers a number of nice-looking radial tires with the correct period-width white sidewalls, redlines, and raised white-letter designs. These tires keep your Mustang looking original without sacrificing safety and reliability.