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Mustang Restomod Guide: Interior
Modern Comfort And Convenience Is A Must In Today's Mustang Restomod
In 1965, the Mustang's interior was considered well equipped. Standard equipment included gauges, a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, and carpet in a time when many cars had nothing more than a rubber mat. Options included a console, an AM/FM radio, and an Interior Dcor Group that added plusher seats, sportier door panels, and a woodgrain instrument bezel and glovebox door. Later Mustangs got high-back bucket seats and nicer radios, even power windows for '71-'73.
But that was then and this is now. Compared to today's modern new cars, vintage Mustang interiors are relatively spartan. Thanks to the current restomod aftermarket, there's plenty of upgrading that can be done on early Mustangs, from power windows and modern stereos to carbon-fiber seat materials.
To complement '65-'73 Mustang interiors, TMI Products has created a new line of drop-in consoles. Designed to sit on the transmission hump between the bucket seats, the consoles provide an elbow rest, additional storage, and a pair of cup holders. Similar to the rest of the company's product line, the consoles are made with authentic factory colors and fabrics to ensure they match the rest of the interior.
TMI Products has taken the lead when it comes to vintage Mustang seats, upholstery, and door panels. Not only does the company offer quality reproduction products for concours-type restorations, but it has also developed a number of restomod items, including the popular Sport Seat upholstery, foam, and headrests for '65-'67 Mustangs. Designed to look similar to the original seats, the TMI Sport Seat conversion provides a racier appearance and more support with larger bolsters on the seat bottoms and backs. "These seats bring classic styling with modern performance to the restoration market," says TMI Sales and Marketing Manager Dean Satterfield. Sold in packaged sets, the Sport Seat upholstery is available in a broad selection of cover materials and designs that make it easy to recreate the original Mustang look or custom design a unique interior.
Upgrading from vintage dial gauges to modern and more accurate digital gauges is easy these days with the fully outfitted Mustang gauge bezels from Dakota Digital. Available for '65-'73 Mustangs, the Dakota Digital instruments come with new factory bezels equipped with blue or teal digital read-out gauges. The '65-'66 gauge packages utilize a speedometer and tachometer in the center pod with fuel, volt, water temperature, and oil pressure gauges. Bezels are available in black camera-case or woodgrain finishes for standard and GT applications. The '67-'68 packages, available in camera-case or deluxe (brushed aluminum in '67 and woodgrain in '68), have a separate speedo and tach with water temperature, volt, and oil pressure gauges. For '69-'70, the speedo and tach are separate; the outside gauges are doubled up with fuel/volt and oil pressure/water temp gauges. The three-pod '71-'73 panel incorporates oil pressure and water temperature with the tach in the left pod; fuel and volts are in the speedometer on the right. The small center pod houses a clock. Dakota Digital instrument clusters are available from most Mustang parts vendors.
Fancy Sill Plates
Now you can light up your inner world with illuminated sill plates from Scott Drake Mustang Parts. Available for '65-'68 Mustangs, the plates feature a custom horse logo that illuminates in red when the doors are open. To complement the glow, they're made from 304 stainless steel, as opposed to the lightweight aluminum of the originals, with a bright polished finish. Easy to install, the sill plates also include brushed GT-type stripes. They're available wherever Scott Drake products are sold.
Safety Times Three
Comfort and convenience are at the top of the list when adding modern mods to a Mustang interior, but safety should also be considered. After all, older Mustangs don't have airbags, padded steering wheels, or many of the other safety features found on newer cars. Lap belts became standard equipment on Mustangs in '66, followed by difficult-to-use shoulder harnesses in '68. Thanks to Custom Accessories, you can add retractable three-point seatbelts, front and rear, to vintage Mustangs. Available in more than a dozen popular colors to match nearly every Mustang interior, they meet all U.S. Federal safety standards for replacement belts. Installation utilizes factory seatbelt mounting points, along with new mounting points for the retractors.
TMI keeps the restomod products coming for vintage Mustangs. With two-tone standard door panels, it's easy to make an interior statement in '65-'69 Mustangs without the expense of custom upholstery. Designed to replicate the original equipment door panels, the new versions offer the look of a deluxe interior upgrade for about the same price as regular ones. Authentic colors are used for easy matching to original interior colors. Two versions are offered, one with a full inner section or another with a smaller upper strip only.
Few modifications make a bigger difference in a Mustang interior than a pair of racing-style bucket seats. Among the most popular for vintage Mustangs are the Scat ProCar Rally versions from Mustangs Plus. They look sportier than factory seats, and with pronounced shoulder and thigh bolsters, they keep you planted during hard cornering. High-density foam over a tubular steel frame maintains the seat shape and provides maximum comfort. Adaptors for installation are included.
Here's a neat way to add a tachometer to a '67-'68 Mustang without strapping a Monster tach to the steering column or going through the hassle of changing out the wiring harness for a hard-to-find factory tach. Australia's Retrogauge offers a Mini-Tach that fits in the '67-'68 Mustang's center instrument panel opening in place of the crosshair blank or clock. With the original-style Mustang typeface and red needle on a black background, the tach looks as though it came from the factory. Available in 0-6,000 and 0-8,000 versions, it's available from Mustangs, Etc. for $79, plus shipping from Australia.
Upholstered Package Trays
TMI Products has added upholstered package trays for '65-'68 Mustang hardtops to its extensive line of Mustang interior parts. "Our new coupe package trays bring a custom, finished look to an interior by replacing the painted fiberboard factory package trays with a more refined version, upholstered to perfectly match the rest of the interior," says TMI's Dean Satterfield. "Everyone knows that it's the fine details that can really make or break a project, and this is one of the easiest ways to bring a truly 'finished' look to an interior." Available with or without cutouts for stereo speakers, the new package trays are made of tough Masonite and covered with TMI's automotive grade vinyls. The kits are easy to install and come in original Mustang colors and patterns, as well as TMI's new carbon-fiber-look and brushed-aluminum-look vinyls.
Part of the fun with restomodding is adding stealthy modifications. It doesn't get much better than the new USA-66 AM/FM radio from Custom Auto Sound. The radio looks identical to the factory's optional '65-'66 AM/FM, right down to the sliding AM/FM bar, push buttons, and analog dial. But behind the USA-66's original appearance lies 200 watts of stereo power along with a dedicated input for CA's 10-disc CD changer, an auxiliary input for iPods and other MP3 players, and line-out connections for an amplifier. Best of all, the radio mounts perfectly into the '65-'66 Mustang's original instrument panel opening.
Owners have been replacing the fluctuating factory gauges with more accurate aftermarket ones ever since the first Mustangs rolled off the Dearborn assembly line. Today, JME Enterprises makes it easy to upgrade with billet-aluminum bezels filled with Auto Meter instruments, including the speedometer, tach, fuel level, oil pressure, water temperature, voltage, and so on, depending on the model year. Various finishes are available for '65-'66, '67-'68, and '69-'70 Mustangs, including black camera case, woodgrain, brushed aluminum, and carbon fiber. The JME clusters come assembled and prewired for simple installation. Check the Web site at www.jmeenterprises.com to view the different combinations and finishes.
Upgrading from a stock steering wheel to a wood Shelby version is as popular today as it was in the '60s. Mustangs Plus now offers a Shelby-style steering wheel that features classic styling in combination with today's quality components. The 15-inch lightweight steering wheel is aluminum framed and finished with a beautiful wood rim, complete with finger notches. It fits all '65-'73 Mustangs.
In 1965, Carroll Shelby realized that the Mustang needed more instrumentation for sporty driving, so he created a special pod to house two gauges-a tachometer and a smaller oil pressure-on the center of the instrument panel. The Shelby-style gauge pods are still available today from companies such as Tony D. Branda Mustang and Shelby Parts. For keeping modern tabs on things, you can install an Auto Meter 311/42-inch Sport Comp tach and a 2-inch Auto Meter oil pressure gauge.
Ford was restomodding the Mustang long before owners thought of it. One of the original Mustang modifications was the Dcor Interior Group, which was added to the Mustang's option list midyear in '65 and continued through '66. Better known today as Pony interior, the upgraded and more luxurious interior included door panels with molded-in armrests, specially bolstered seats with unique running horses on the seatbacks (thus the "Pony" identification), woodgrain instrument panel and glovebox door, simulated-wood steering wheel, and chrome-trimmed pedals. Today, K.A.R. Auto Group makes it easy to upgrade to the Dcor interior with a Pony interior conversion kit for less than $1,700.
The carbon-fiber look remains popular with Mustang restomodders, so TMI Products has taken it to the seats with racing-inspired carbon-fiber-look seat upholstery and door panels. Offered with an expanded color pallet, the carbon-fiber upholstery is tough and durable with extruded cord and thick vinyl with a knitted cross-linked backing for extra strength.
Haneline specializes in engine-turned stainless steel dashpanels, so it's no surprise that the company offers several options for vintage Mustang owners. For '65-'66s, Haneline produces an ABS plastic instrument panel, with or without gauges, with stainless panels. The panel for '67-'68 Mustangs comes with six Teleflex-domed gauges. Matching inserts for the rest of the instrument panel are also available. The '69-'70 version doesn't include the engine-turned stainless steel; customers provide their housing so Haneline can install and prewire an electric speedometer, tach, oil pressure/water temperature and fuel/volt.
Power to the Windows
When the word "restomod" was conceived, it was generally used as a term to describe updating older vehicles with modern components. Power windows certainly fit that description. The '65-'70 Mustangs weren't available with power windows, but Electric-Life makes it possible today with a power-window conversion. Available from National Parts Depot, the kit includes new window regulators with electric motors to power the side glass up and down. Installation is a matter of replacing the factory regulators and wiring the motors. A variety of switches are available that can be mounted in the door panels or console.
TMI Products' replacement headrests are designed to retro-fit any '65-'67 Mustang with original seats. The OEM-style headrests come in all of TMI's authentic Mustang interior colors and materials, as well as custom two-tone combinations, including the new carbon-fiber-look vinyls. Sold in pairs, the headrests replicate the original factory look and complement the Mustang's original seat style and upholstery. They also feature four-level height adjustment, four-way angle position adjustment, and simple two-bolt and nut attachment to the original '65-'67 Mustang seat frame.
Kick Panel Music
From 1965-1966, most radio stations broadcast on the AM frequency, so hi-fi sound reproduction wasn't needed. Except for models with factory AM/FM or AM/eight-track tape players, which came with speakers mounted in the doors, most Mustangs were equipped with a single speaker in the dash. That just doesn't cut it in today's world of CDs and iPods. Because there's limited space in the kick panel area, Custom Auto Sound offers replacement kick panels with speakers built in. Designed to replace the factory kick panels, the CAA versions come with 611/42-inch two-way speakers capable of handling 80 watts. An upgrade to Pioneer 120-watts speakers is available. The kick-panel speakers are also available for '67-'68 Mustangs.
Scott Drake Mustang Parts now offers a Luminescent Gauge Panel Set for '67-'68 Mustangs. Not only does it add the sporty looks of white-face gauges, but the gauges glow. The light intensity and color can be changed with a dedicated controller. The woodgrain-faced instrument panel includes a 6,000 rpm tach, a 120 mph speedometer, and a clock.