'65-'73 Mustang Street Survival Guide
How to live with (and enjoy) your vintage Mustang on the street
With those old sealed-beam headlamps from the '60s, night illumination is more like driving with a pair of candles. The dated, brown glow from the sealed beams just doesn't light the road ahead like modern Halogen and electric-arc headlamps. This is an important point for your Mustang classic. Halogen headlamps offer unequaled performance when properly aimed, which is comforting on a rainy night when you'd like to see 300 feet or more ahead of the vehicle.
Driving Lamps For Visibility
Driving lamps are a nice option when visibility gets poor. Not only do these high-power lights improve a Mustang's looks, they light the road ahead when the going gets dark. Use these in conjunction with your Mustang's high-beam headlights for better performance.
We like the nostalgic sound of factory Ford car horns from '65 to '78. However, they don't do much for getting attention in traffic when some schmuck cuts you off or someone pulls out in front of you. This is where time and technology have gotten the best of our old Mustang horns. Most new Fords today are equipped with Signaltone horns, which are also available from the aftermarket. Like your Mustang's original horns, these are twin high- and low-pitch horns that yield a European tone, which is plenty loud, with a nice harmony. They quickly get the attention of other motorists and pedestrians. The Signaltone horns are cheap, at $12.95 each, and are available from J.C. Whitney or a number of auto accessory stores.
Collapsible Steering Column
We've performed this one ourselves, so we know it works. Prior to the '68 model year, classic Mustangs were fitted with solid-shaft steering columns that do not give in a frontal collision, putting you at risk for injuries. Did you know you can install the '68-'69 Mustang/Cougar collapsible steering column in your '65-'67 Mustang? You have a couple of options with this conversion. You can keep the '68-'69 collar, which includes the turn-signal and emergency flasher switch, which may not blend well with your '65-'66 interior. Or you can adapt the '65-'67 top collar to the '68-'69 column. Some modification to the steering column is required to tie the '65-'67 top collar to the collapsible column.
Be Seen: Halogen And LED Taillights
While it's important for you to see the road ahead at night, it's also important for others to see you. In the past five years, two items have come to market designed to make your Mustang's taillights brighter. Halogen taillight bulbs are smaller and much brighter than the 1157 lamps they replace. A downside to the Halogens is the heat they generate, which can be especially bad if you're sitting in traffic with your foot on the brake. Scott Drake Enterprises offers a special taillight lens for '65-'66 Mustangs designed to take the heat of the Halogen lamp without melting or distorting.
Another innovation is Light Emitting Diode (LED) taillight modules for '65-'73 Mustangs. These lights are bright without generating any heat. Several types are available, including the ones from Mustang Project that also offer sequential operation. We suggest the larger LED modules that cover the entire taillight lens. The small LED bulbs don't work well and create less light than the 1157 bulb.
If you're going to drive your Mustang regularly, safety behind the wheel is paramount. Those factory lap belts keep you in the car in a collision, but they won't protect your face and torso. Three-point safety belts give you late-model protection without having to give up the classic Mustang experience. You can get this kind of protection by securing a set of three-point safety belts from a variety of Fords and Mercury donor cars from the mid- to late-'70s. They have simple restraint reels and are easy to install in classic Mustangs. An easier option is to install a new set of three-point safety belts from Custom Accessories, the same folks who bring you Custom Autosound. These belts are easy to install and use your Mustang's factory seatbelt attachment points, and they work exceptionally well with low-back bucket seats. You can also protect your rear-seat passengers with three-point protection in back.
No use protecting your face and torso if you aren't going to protect your neck. Headrests aren't there just for your comfort, but to protect your head and neck in a rear-end collision. Owners of '68-'69 Mustangs can opt for a set of factory headrests that are easily incorporated into the stock seats. Those of us with '65-'69 Mustang low-back bucket seats can choose headrest conversion kits from Custom Accessories or TMI Products.
Roller camshafts and rocker arms have long been perceived as "race only" engine mods, but did you know the installation of a roller camshaft can reduce your engine's internal friction by 15 percent? Flat-tappet camshafts and cast rocker arms create a lot of internal friction, which hurts fuel economy and robs power. Installing a roller camshaft not only reduces friction, it allows you to use a more aggressive cam profile for improved performance without adversely affecting driveability. Roller-tip rocker arms reduce friction even more by allowing smooth operation across the valve-stem tip.