Jim Smart
March 7, 2014
Photos By: The Manufacturers

Inspiration for this article came from my own Mustang project, which is a mild period restomod with 1960s nuances and hidden modifications designed to make the car safer, more reliable, and more fun to drive. When it was time to dress the engine, I knew I wanted something different aside from garden variety tower clamps. I ordered radiator hoses from Marti Auto Works with the factory markings and wire-style hose clamps, which were used by Ford for a limited time in 1967 in an effort to make vehicle assembly easier. The wire-style clamp stapled to the hose took hold and became routine in the years to follow. I chose these hoses and clamps because I liked the way they looked and functioned.

The wire-style clamps got me thinking about hose clamps for the rest of my Mustang. I decided I wanted wire-style clamps for the entire system, including fuel hoses. This turn of events opened a can of worms because I had a tough time finding them as I became obsessed with the different types of hose clamps for classic and late-model Mustangs alike.

Choosing the right hose clamp for your Mustang involves both personal taste and function. It has to look right and it needs to do its job, which means you need clamps that can do both well.

Types Of Clamps

Classic Mustangs were originally fitted with tower-style cooling system hose clamps because they were quick and easy for assembly line workers. Slip it onto the hose and run it down with an air tool. The tower clamp saw widespread use until the 1970s when it was phased out and replaced with clamps that had fewer parts and were even easier to install on an assembly line.

Dual wire-style hose clamps first saw use in 1967 when Ford tried them as an experiment. They were stapled to the radiator hoses for air tool installation in one motion. Wire-style clamps saw more use in the years to follow. In the 1980s, Ford went to spring-loaded band clamps for radiator hoses as well as worm gear for heater and bypass hoses, which have been in use ever since. Worm gear clamps have been the most popular type of replacement hose clamp because they are durable and easy to source and service.

The tower-style hose clamp was original equipment on new Mustangs from 1964 until the late 1970s. The design made it easy to slip on a hose end and install on the assembly line.
When it was time to dress the engine, I knew I wanted something different aside from garden variety tower clamps.
1. If you’re looking for classic Mustang authenticity, National Parts Depot has complete tower clamp kits that include radiator, heater, and bypass hose clamps. Because these are a Marti Auto Works product, authenticity is a given. Fit them to a hose end, ascertain correct position, and tighten.
2. Here’s the ’67-’73 cooling system hose kit from National Parts Depot. Note the dual wire-style radiator hose clamps and tower heater/bypass hose clamps. It is unclear why the dual wire-style never caught on for heater and bypass hoses. A thorough search of the aftermarket hasn’t turned up much for these wire-style clamps for heater and bypass hoses. They’re either too small or too large. A check with two manufacturers called for minimum orders of 500 clamps each.
3. Beginning in the ’67 model year, Ford started using dual wire-style clamps stapled to radiator hoses as a test to see if they made assembly quicker and easier. This approach was well received and adopted into the 1970s for radiator hoses only. Though the wire-style clamp was used for radiator hoses, it never caught on for heater hoses.
4. This is the dual wire-style hose clamp upper radiator hose for ’67 Mustangs from Marti Auto Works. Quality and authenticity are outstanding, with the clamp stapled to the hose per OEM. A lower radiator hose with dual-wire clamps is also available.
5. This shows a quartet of tower-style heater hose clamps on a ’68 Mustang with the 390 Hi-Po.
6. Here’s a real head-scratcher — tower-style on one end and worm gear at the other. And this was considered a concours restoration. When you choose hose clamps, be consistent throughout and stick with one type.
7. Here’s a factory original ’68 Mustang with all of its original cooling system tower-style hose clamps. That’s the original heater control valve.
8. This ’68 Mustang 390 engine has a dual wire-style radiator hose clamp and tower-style clamps for the heater and bypass hoses.
9. This universal worm gear radiator hose clamp from National Parts Depot is a nice step up from the garden variety discount auto parts store worm clamp. It looks sharp with its acorn screw head and stainless construction.
10. Here’s a collection of worm gear clamps from a variety of manufacturers. The Ideal clamp at the upper left stands out. If you’re going to use worm clamps, spend the money for a high-quality clamp.
11. These band-style clamps used on the Thermactor air pump system are light duty and can actually be used as heater/bypass hose clamps if you prefer this look. One clamp here isn’t sized properly, hence the excessive screw shank.