Mark Houlahan
Brand Manager, Mustang Monthly
May 30, 2012

It's easy to get carried away with a classic Mustang or Ford project and drop a lot of cash into it. The fact of the matter is, no matter how big of a car nut you are, responsibilities like bills, putting food on the table, and taking care of your family, should always come first. In these trying economic times, we're all feeling the pinch, no matter what our pay level is, which means we have less expendable income to use on what's out in the garage.

While you may not have the extra cash right now for that dream crate engine or that trick new suspension setup, with some careful budgeting and a little saving, you can still make some upgrades on your classic. Cutting a corner here and there, like those expensive cups of coffee you get every morning, or brown bagging your lunch to the office instead of eating out every day, is a simple way to save up for those parts you need. Make yourself a project jar and drop your spare pocket money in it when you get home from work each day. Before you know it, you'll have a nice little nest egg saved up to work on your project, and it won't interfere with your financial obligations that keep food on the table and a roof over your head.

Of course, there are plenty of budget upgrades you can perform, from performance and handling to styling and safety, that will keep you moving forward with your project or simply improving your driver. To that end, we grabbed a stack of catalogs from our shelf and searched high and low for parts that we felt would be a nice budget upgrade that are easily installed with basic handtools in your typical well-stocked, home garage. Nothing that would require a pro's help or high-dollar tools (welders, and so on) was considered for this. We limited the list to products that cost no more than $150, and we were surprised at the amount of parts we found and in their variety as well. For the cost of dinner and a movie, you can spend a nice afternoon in the garage improving your ride.

Mustangs Plus

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Mustangs Unlimited

9 We've mentioned the benefits numerous times over the years, but it always warrants a reminder now and then. Changing out your old ignition points system for a Pertronix Igniter means easier starting, smoother/cleaner idle, more power, and often better fuel economy. What's not to like for just $72.95?

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National Parts Depot

19 Dress up your engine bay by covering that void between your grille and your core support with one of these trick 0.040-inch aluminum radiator covers. The aluminum comes clear anodized with a satin finish, black anodized, or fully polished to go with any engine bay or car color starting at $94.50 and topping out at $129.95.

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23 If there's one thing that says performance, it's a set of hoodpins, just like the Shelby Mustangs we all dream of. There are several styles of hoodpin kits on the market, but the popular ones these days are the billet pin kits like the one shown here. The billet hoodpin kit features machined top plates, stainless pins and snap rings, and rubber backing gaskets for $74.95.

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Summit Racing

27 When you're ready to add some power to your small-block Ford, Summit Racing will be ready with its Street & Strip Stage 1 and Stage 2 intake manifolds. Stage 1 intake designs are dual-plane and are for an idle-to-6,000-rpm range, while Stage 2 manifolds are single-plane with separate runners and will work for 1,500-6,500 rpm. Summit's intakes range from $127.95 to $161.95.

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