March 6, 2003

One of our buddies here at the shop recently got his hands on a '641/2 Mustang convertible. Rangoon Red with a red interior--it's the sort of car many of us dream about each night. The red, combined with a white soft top, makes this one a real head-turner and, with a very early production number, the super-straight Mustang is a valuable car for sure. The original engine is a 200ci straight six, mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. We don't have anything against six-cylinder cars, but our friend is interested in V-8 power with a modern Overdrive transmission. He's been reading Mustang & Fords lately, so he's already interested in performance enhancement. If ever there were a car worth the effort needed to do a V-8 conversion, a red Mustang convertible certainly qualifies.

There are many great six-cylinder cars out there waiting for a V-8 upgrade, and it isn't hard to do. You'll need to rebuild the front end using a set of V-8 front spindles. New rear suspension should be done at the same time. New steering components including V-8 tie rods, pitman arm, and drag link will be needed. One phone call to CJ Pony Parts of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, got us going on all of our suspension and steering needs. The folks at CJ Pony Parts are Mustang experts and are involved in the hobby to the fullest extent.

Complete restorations go on all the time in their back shop, and they are so knowledgeable and were helpful to us on even the smallest details. The suspension and rear axle from the six-cylinder car have to go because neither will withstand even moderate V-8 use. We won't want to keep those four-lug wheels, and the 8-inch rearend we'll be using is equipped with five-lug axles, as were all early V-8 Mustangs. Also, for a V-8 with Overdrive, we're going to want 15-inch wheels. Because the four-lug drums are going away, this is the time to upgrade to a four-wheel disc-brake setup. Stainless Steel Brakes (SSB) supplied its excellent hardware for our project Pony, while Classic Tube provided a complete brake-line kit for the car. In this feature, we're going to show you much of what's needed to get a six-cylinder car ready for V-8 operation. Once the car is on the ground with five-lug wheels, we can begin to think about the new powerplant.

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Here's our front-disc-brake conversion kit from Stainless Steel Brakes. It features slotted rotors and the new lightweight aluminum four-piston calipers. Kevlar brake pads are included, as well as a rear-brake-proportioning valve. Also shown are new dust shields, bearings, seals, and flex lines. The included dual-reservoir master cylinder will replace the original single-reservoir unit.
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This is the rear-disc-brake kit for our car. Single-piston floating calipers are used along with slotted rotors. This hardware is tried and true, used originally on the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. All of the required mounting hardware is in the kit, including flex lines. These are needed because the floating caliper moves a little each time the pedal is applied.
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These V-8 spindles are much heavier castings than the six-cylinder versions. Not available new, CJ Pony Parts had them in stock.

WHAT'S IT COST?
SSB Front with aluminum calipers: $1,295
SSB Rear: $900
Line Kit: $159
Front Suspension & steering: $960
Rear Suspension: $175
TOTAL: $3,489
Extensive labor not included