It's been said that one could build a '65-'66 Mustang from a catalog. Barring the actual unibody (Dynacorn will soon solve this with its reproduction body shell), this is a fairly accurate observation. This is one statement that we espouse often to aspiring classic Mustang owners that ask us about restoring a Mustang. Like any hobby, if you go in too deep and too fast, you either run out of money, patience, time, or a combination of the three. Starting with a '65-'66 Mustang means parts will be easy to find, any aftermarket updates like modern wiring, suspension, and brakes are already figured out and just a phone call away. Brown drives up your street and drops off a lot of boxes and it's off to the garage you go. The last thing we'd recommend to a first time potential classic Mustang buyer is something like a big-block '69-'70 with Thermactor Air emissions. All of the pieces to do it right are insanely expensive, and while these cars are seeing more parts reproduced, they still do not have the parts resources like the '65-'68 Mustangs do.
But what happens after you've restored a few classic Mustangs? The challenge isn't quite there anymore. Even moving up to the '69-'73 models only does so much to challenge a seasoned veteran. Probably the most difficult project one could undertake is a pre-muscle era Ford (usually anything pre-'65) and something that was one year only in body style. We all know that the Mustang was updated every two years, which was the norm for Ford, and even that was exterior skin with much of the unibody remaining the same. But there were other Fords that had one-year-only body styles; couple that with fewer units sold and you have a recipe for a thoroughly challenging build. That's exactly what Brian Knigga was up for after restoring a few Mustangs-something that would challenge him.
Brian, of Bright, Indiana, has been playing with cars for 26 years, thanks to his brother, Tim, putting a wrench in his hand at an early age. Brian had several Mustang projects under his belt and was looking for a nice driver project when he spotted this one-year-only body style '62 Fairlane. After a little cat and mouse action where he thought the car had sold, only to reappear a month later in the same yard, Brian made the deal and brought the Fairlane home where he and his two sons, Mitchell and Eric, began the tear down process on the project.
Brian felt the Fairlane had great body lines and would make for a cool driver without putting too much money into it. Little did he know that the Fairlane had a replacement floor welded in right over the original rusty floor, and that there was rust elsewhere in the car. Not usually a problem for a seasoned veteran, until you realize there's little available in the way of replacement parts-and what is has to be purchased NOS. While replacing the floors, Brian used a trans tunnel from a donor car and then hand fabricated the transmission tunnel. NOS front fenders were sourced for the project as well. The rest of the car, including the quarters, doors, hood, and trunk lid were all reconditioned with appropriate patching and hammer and dolly work. Rear wheelhouses were widened to allow the new rear wheels to fit and tuck into the quarters for the low stance Brian was looking for. Brian's friend Ron Schoch (you might remember his blue '65 Mustang from our March '10 cover) helped with the body and paint process too.