Wayne Cook
December 1, 2000
Photos By: Mustang & Fords Archives

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A small amount of rust as seen here shouldn’t be a major obstacle. However, this rust should be attended to before it spreads and causes a lot of damage. On this particular car, the beat-up traction bars are what would scare us away. Designed to aid traction during hard launches, we would look at the driveline very closely before making any offer on this car.
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Here we see new floorpans being welded into place. This car is a rare factory air-conditioned V-8 convertible. A car such as this has a large potential value, so the owner decided to undergo the considerable expense of this type of repair. If you’re shopping for a garden-variety coupe, find one that has good floorpans to begin with. Be careful on your project choice. To get a car looking like you want, it’s not difficult to spend more money on restoration than the car will be worth finished.
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The rust shown in this photo has eaten its way completely through the metal. This hole is in a very bad place, as it may undermine the structural integrity of this Unibody ’66 Mustang. A cosmetic repair won’t restore the desired strength here. Look for similar trouble like this elsewhere on the car.
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This nice-looking ’66 Mustang 2+2 is a Mustang & Fords test car. This car also has Vintage Wheel Works Vintage 45 16-inch wheels.
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This white Mustang coupe is a ’66 version. It looks like a nice, straight car, but the lack of 289 fender emblems and the four-lug wheels give away the fact that it’s a six-cylinder version. You can get some very good prices on these six-cylinder cars, but remember that the entire drivetrain and many other things will need to be replaced if you want to convert over to V-8 power.
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When we found this ’64 Fairlane sedan, there was no engine in it. But besides that, the car was complete. The elaborate side moldings and much of the other trim would be extremely difficult to find separately. As the early Fairlanes grow in popularity, reproduction items for these cars are just beginning to become available.

We want you to be happy you’ve made the decision to get into the vintage Mustang or Ford hobby. If you have lots of money, it won’t be too difficult to go out and find yourself a nice and completed car. However, those of us with limited funds must be a little more careful of how our money is spent. If you’re careful in your selection of a project car, you’re in for a lot of fun. If you’re not careful, you could be in for a big headache and lots of discouragement.

Common sense and patience will be your guide to a certain extent, but there are some things you should keep in mind during your search. Even if your interest is in a car other than a Mustang, most of the following tips still apply to your Fairlane or Falcon selection.

Of all of the American cars out there, the Mustang is one of the best for your entrance into the vintage-car hobby. They are numerous, for the most part relatively inexpensive, and easy to work on. The timeless good looks and performance potential of the Mustang make them ever popular, so there is a wide variety of clubs and other sources where you can turn for help. Having a wide and dedicated base of enthusiasts means there is an ever-increasing number of reproduction parts available. Using these parts can save you a bundle over N.O.S. parts for a non-concours restoration. Let’s look at what it takes to find a good car, and some of the things you’ll need to look out for during the course of your search.

RUST NEVER SLEEPS
The first basic truth in finding a nice Mustang to fix up is that rust is your number-one enemy. Try to find a car from one of the dry Western states like California, Nevada, or Arizona. Avoid places where the roads are salted in the wintertime like New England or the Midwest.

Certain spots rust on all Mustangs, it seems, even those from Arizona. Small rust bubbles are likely to appear at the lower front edge of the doors and along the upper edge of the rocker molding. Small amounts of rainwater become trapped there when drain holes become plugged with debris. After 35 years it’s not unusual to find a small amount of rust in these areas.

Although patch panels and floorpans are sold to repair rusty Mustangs, the amount of labor required to make these repairs can be very costly. You’d be better off spending this money up front on a more expensive car with little or no rust. If rust damage is not repaired properly or eliminated, it will come back to haunt you a few years down the line. Also, there is always the possibility of rust you can’t see or detect. For example, Midwestern cars often have lots of rust in front of the windshield beneath the cowl. Rust in that area is hard to detect and difficult to repair. In one of these cars, the next time it rains you’ll have wet feet. If one area on a car is badly rusted, chances are there’s more rust elsewhere that you might not see.