Wayne Cook
February 12, 2010

Brake Break Down
Brakes are one of the most obvious areas of focus when it comes to safety. Good brakes are your best defensive tool, and it pays to have the best binders you can afford installed on your car. Disc brakes offer many advantages. They don't grab like drum brakes do, and the pedal on a disc brake set up has a much more modulated and controlled feel to it.

If you've got a heavy car or one with a big-block engine, then power brakes can also be a great safety upgrade. With power brakes there's no shortage of leg muscle when it comes time to slow down the wheels. Once installed, the booster will need to be connected to a vacuum source on the intake manifold. The new power brakes will seem sensitive by comparison and the light pedal effort will take a little getting used to. The booster kit ifrom Master Power Brakes retails for $429.

Interior Concerns
On the inside of the car, one area of consideration related to brakes would be the parking brake actuation. The system isn't truly an emergency brake system, but it is designed to be completely separate and independent of the main hydraulically actuated system. Many Mustang models have the parking brake lever that is inconveniently located underneath the dash behind the steering wheel. We've seen many cars that dispense with this arrangement and go with a tunnel mounted brake lever, for more positive engagement and no interference with the steering wheel during an emergency situation. This unit from Lokar makes for a sanitary installation. We found the handle for $89.95, while a cable kit to complete the installation underneath the car costs $99.

While we're still in the interior of the car, we thought we'd mention instrumentation. Although a complete set of gauges like this Auto Meter outfit might not seem like safety equipment, if it keeps you from being stopped by the side of the road it is. Gauges allow you to see a pattern of operation and make it possible to see a problem coming. A temperature gauge that creeps up slowly over time is telling you that there are cooling system problems on the horizon. A warning light simply tells you that the problem is already upon you. Plus, modern gauges are much easier to read and are more brightly lit than the 40-plus-year-old originals.

Most of the classic Ford cars we're concerned with came equipped with seats that were thinly padded by modern standards and lap-only seatbelts. Many enthusiasts we know are happier and more comfortable with more modern seats and a three-point seatbelt installation. Just such a combination upgrade has been accomplished on this classic Mustang. While installing late-model seats into a car such as this one usually isn't too difficult, the shoulder belt hard-point design has to be considered carefully. For racing, a more elaborate five-point design and roll protection should be employed.