Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 31, 2014

After surveying the engine bay, we came to the conclusion that a quick repaint of the firewall and fender aprons would be the first change on our list. Ideally, you would pull the drivetrain, bodywork the panels, and then get some quality chassis black enamel from a company like Eastwood or have it professionally painted. However, our man John just dropped the drivetrain in and recently got it running, so we're not looking to go backwards. A few bucks and a few hours of labor will liven things up, however.

With engine detailing, it's the individual details that add up to make the overall package stand out. You can have a killer-looking engine between the shock towers, but untidy wiring and dress up components that have seen their best days long ago will take it down a notch or two. If you're building a sleeper, that's the goal, really, but the majority of us want things to look nice.

After giving the sheet metal a quick sand and spray, we next looked to update the dress-up package, and make everything work safely and reliably with new engine bay wiring harnesses. For those items, we went to Scott Drake, as we knew that the components would be of high quality and fit correctly. That's a time saver, which can be a money saver in and off itself.

A few choice parts, some paint and a bit of modern wire loom made a substantial difference in just a couple of days of work. Read on to see how we gave this budget project a quick and easy makeover.

13. The Monte Carlo bar is next. To make sure it cleared everything, we attached the shock bars to it and then positioned it to where it cleared the radiator hose and distributor. If your engine bay has already been painted, you can protect the surface during mock up with some tape on the backside of the bracket.
14. The Monte Carlo bar brackets uses these steel supports on the backside of the fender apron. The firewall bracket has a similar one that mounts inside the car on the interior surface of the firewall.
15a. Here you can see the before and after wiring jobs. Forget the cheap corrugated plastic wire loom and spring for something modern like this Classic Braid from Painless Performance. It’s a much nicer and up-to-date option, yet still has a factory look about it.
15b.We also utilized some leftover Power Braid on a few of the wiring runs that were less apparent. We had initially contemplated hiding the harnesses altogether, but our slightly nostalgic car owner was content with running the harnesses exposed using the factory wiring holders—that, and our deadline really didn’t allow for the extra time!
16. The nice thing about a factory replacement harness is that everything is color coded for easy hook up. After connecting the blower motor wires, we tucked them inside the Classic Braid to let them blend into the engine bay.
17. With the engine gauge harness, we had to swap out the factory coil stud connector for a male spade connector for the MSD ignition connection.
18. We also procured this firewall-to-hood gasket and brackets from Scott Drake as well. It’ll have to come back off once the car is painted, but we suspect this restomod is going to see quite a few miles on the road before that happens. We can hear the Flowmasters thundering already.
19. Simple and inexpensive (in this case, free) modifications can help clean up the engine bay. Whenever possible, rotate the hose clamps for a cleaner look.
20. Next on our mod list were these polished aluminum valve covers from Scott Drake. The Cal Custom pieces (PN C5ZZ-6A582-AF) give us that vintage appearance, but with a clean, non-logo look.
21. We ordered a set of new valve cover bolts so we didn’t dress the new polished valve covers down with old hardware. To our surprise, the Cal Custom covers came with their own high-quality Allen-headed fasteners. We went with these and scored a bonus when we realized that they dropped right in the aluminum spark plug wire looms that we would later use.
22. The Cal Custom air cleaner lid (PN C5ZZ-9600-AFK) is a trick piece that matches the look of the valve covers without the need for a wing nut to hold it on. You just need to adjust the height of the threaded rod in the carb for the perfect fit.
23. Cut-to-fit spark plug wires will help you tidy up the engine bay by making sure that the wires fit snugly and evenly, or in some cases, allow you to hide the wires altogether. We used these aluminum wire looms to route the wires neatly to the plugs.
24. With this finished shot of our engine bay makeover, you can see how covering the wiring allows it to blend into the overall picture; it also allows the powerplant to stand out, which is ideally what you want. While going the extra mile to detail the engine bay can sometimes come at the price of accessibility or maintenance, this is a fully functional, hands-on type of look. Need to trace a wire or jumpstart the car from the solenoid? Have at it!