Jim Smart
December 14, 2009

Starters don't get much thought until we turn the key and nothing happens. Discount auto parts stores still offer rebuilt Autolite or Motorcraft starters for classic Mustangs because they were in production until the early 1990s. That gives us lots of cores to play with. And that's the easy part if you're not concerned with originality and can live with something right off the shelf. However, if you want your Mustang's starter to remain original in appearance, it's a matter of locating and rebuilding the correct starter for your application. Mustangs Etc. in Southern California has plenty of usable cores to choose from for restoration projects.

There are two basic Ford starter types - two-bolt and three-bolt. Small-block Fords like the 260, 289, 302, 351W, and 351C got two-bolt starters. The 170 and 200ci sixes, along with the FE-series 390, 427, and 428 big-blocks, got three-bolt starters. Drive gear housings vary depending upon flywheel/flexplate size, bellhousing type, manual or automatic transmission, and engine.

We've long subscribed to the idea of buying a starter from a discount auto parts store and swapping the guts into the correct starter housing along with replacing brushes and bushings. It's easy, but not always the best choice. When we asked Garrett Marks at Mustangs Etc. where he was getting his starters rebuilt, he referred us to Bob Antounian at CAE, Inc. Quality Remanufactured Starters & Alternators in Van Nuys, California.

Think of CAE, Inc. as a custom starter/alternator/generator building shop where you can get just about anything you want for classic and late-model Mustangs alike. CAE will rebuild your starter, alternator, or generator and detail it to its proper appearance. Basic rebuilds are affordable and on a par with discount houses. Metal replating or the use of new parts is additional. It is an excellent value regardless of cost.

Cast aluminum parts aren't media blasted and painted with aluminum paint. Instead, they go into a parts tumbler that gets them looking like new. Ditto for steel such as fasteners and other hard parts.

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