Jim Smart
February 4, 2005
Photos By: Jeff Ford

Mark Bremier is a fun guy who loves cars. The '65 Mustang you seeburning the hides on our cover really isn't Mark's doing. In fact, hegot this classic Mustang in a partial trade with the former owner ofanother car. "I guess this car would run you $25,000 to $30,000 if youbought it outright," Mark told us. But we understand our readers aren'ttypically people who just go out and buy ready-made, high-performancerestomods. Our readers, like most of us at Mustang & Fords, prefer tobuild their own cars. We will add that many of us cannot afford a$25,000 to $30,000 ride either. We're lucky if we can pull it off forunder $15,000 and have something to feel proud of. As enthusiasts, wehave to be resourceful and creative.

We wanted to dissect Mark's Mustang hardtop, and see what we couldactually build this car for. We're going to look it over, and figure outwhat we could build this car for in real-world dollars and time withoutbreaking the bank. follow along with us as we show you how to build awicked ride.

You can get into a rust-free classic Mustang for $200 to $7,000. This iswhere you have to invest your time in the search for a terrific bargain.They are still out there. Think of it as a treasure hunt.

Basics

Begin your plan with a no-nonsense, low-buck ride, such as a '65-'68Mustang hardtop. These days, you can even aim for a '69-'70 hardtopbecause we've seen some really bitchin' things done with these otherwiselackluster rides. Mustang hardtops tend to be plentiful and cheap,regardless of vintage. One example is our own Project KISS, a derelict'68 Mustang hardtop we found in Long Beach, California, for $200.Another example is an Emberglo '66 Mustang hardtop a friend of ourssnapped up in Burbank for $1,000. the original owner just didn't want itanymore.

Great finds are still out there. You just have to beat the bushes forthem and be patient. Ideally, you will find a V-8 car for yourparticular project, but don't let a six-cylinder deter you. Six-cylinderMustangs are generally the cheapest. Those sixes, and their weaksuspensions, can easily be replaced with a V-8 and five-lug suspensions.

Don't err on the side of cheap and pick up a crumbling rust bucket youwill have to invest thousands in for sheetmetal replacement andbodywork. Spend more and get a rust-free body you can get right to workon. If you live in the salt belt, and you find a rust-free car inArizona or California, spend the money on the car and shipping. It willstill wind up costing you less than the rust repair. Plus, you can getright down to car building without having to wait for time-consumingbodywork.

If you have the patience and perseverance, search for a goodrust-and-damage-free body without the over-inflated purchase price foundin the collector publications. Cruise the used car lots. Check theclassifieds every week. Drive up and down side streets looking for theneglected classic someone wants to get rid of for a song. Remember, noteveryone sees vintage Fords the same way we do. Some see an old Ford asjust that--an old Ford. They don't see the classic side nor the value;those are the ones you have to watch for.

The Look

Mark Bremier's '65 Mustang hardtop has a few mild, yet complex, bodymodifications wrapped up in the 10-second package. Mild, run-of-the-millmodifications are a front valance from Tony Branda Mustang & ShelbyParts and a fiberglass decklid from Mustang Depot. These are easybolt-ons that make a huge difference in the car's appearance. The formerowner extended the rear wheel lips to accommodate the larger tires andwheels in back. This is costly and not always necessary. Consideralternative wheel sizing and offset instead.

We like the two-tone finish on Mark's Mustang--extremes of light anddark with black and Hugger Orange to mimic the Harley-Davidson colorsthat sets the car apart from others. But it also costs more than a moretraditional paint job. The fender flares and cowl vent deletion add tothe cost of building the car and aren't mandatory. Mustangs have a nice,clean look as they came off the assembly line. Paint color and colorcombinations can make all the difference without costing a fortune.

Paint and body are always huge concerns when it comes to cost. That'swhy beginning with a solid, rust-free body is so important to savingmoney. We spoke with Allan Shepley at Mustang Central about the cost ofpaint and body, with the understanding they would be starting with arust-free body. Allan explained that you never know what you're going tofind when you tackle a car body. The truth comes when you get down tothe bare steel. That's why you have to thoroughly inspect a body beforebuying. Look for accident damage and sloppy repair. Search for rust.Small rust bubbles in the paint normally mean huge problems and expensebeneath the surface.