December 16, 2004

Steamy Date

Wanna get rid of all the goo and filth that's lurking on the engine and engine bay of your Ford? Well, plan ahead and think steam cleaner. These brutes can be rented fairly cheaply and can definitely expedite the underhood (and undercarriage) cleanup. We've used them several times and have been pleased with the results. If you're crafty, you can rent it early Saturday and keep it through Sunday without big penalties financially. If you can work fairly fast, you can also get a friend involved and split the cost. Of course, if your friends are like some of our friends, you'll want to get the money up front...

Daily Grind

So, you want to get all your stainless parts bright and shiny. Don't send them out; do them yourself! If you have a bench grinder you can do as we did--strip the grinder down on one side and build a work station as shown. We snagged some buffing pads and a polishing kit from the local Sears and got all the bright work looking like new.

Be careful: Wear eye protection and gloves, and try not to do a Home Improvement episode while buffing.

Buckets Of Fun

So you have a big, fat, old bench seat in that prized ride of yours and you really want to go buckets; but what to do? The old stuff, like Torino and Mustang high-backs, are getting harder to come by each day.What about getting a set of standard buckets from an '85-'93 T-bird,Cougar, or Mustang? These buckets can be had for nearly a song and are less "desirable" than the Sport buckets used on the Mustang through the years. A slightly more expensive idea would be to use the buckets from a newer Mustang.

Be forewarned that you may have to improvise some to get them to fit.Also understand that at some point you'll need custom stitch work to make the back and front seats match--unless, of course, you have a Ranchero.

One Man's Junk

One man's junk is another man's treasure. So if you're able to make yourself do it, buy used. It's one way to get the things you want and stay cheap--as long as you are a savvy buyer. For instance, we were at a local swap meet two years ago and spied a dash pad for a '66 Falcon nestled among the Chevy crap in a fellow's booth. The pad was marked $50and even came in a decent box. The pad was used but incredibly crack-free. We waited until the end of the day as he was packing up and offered him $25 for it. We made the deal and went home with a spare (and hard-to-find) dash pad for our '66 Ranchero, and he went home with 25smackers. Wanna know the cool thing? Everybody thought they got the better end of the stick.

But be aware that some deals are not really deals. We stay away from engine parts and transmission stuff--in short, things that you can't inspect. Look for a story in our October issue dealing with swap-meet buys.

Roll Baby, Roll

Fender lips contacting resto mod rubber can be a bad, bad thing. So were commend rolling the lips (usually prior to paint). Of course, you can have the shop do this and bill you for it, or you can get out the ole Louisville Slugger (we don't recommend the Sammy Sosa signature bat--too light and corky), stick the big end under the lip between the tire andwell, and have a friend roll the car forward slowly. Get that? Roll its lowly. This should roll the lip.

We don't recommend this if you are prone to self-inflicted wounds likeTim Allen's character in Home Improvement.

More Paint Tricks

If the textured doors on your '65-'68 Mustang are pitted or missing fromyears of red-neck arm rubbing, you can reach for a can of wrinkle-finishpaint to give the door a more factory appearance. Though the colorchoices for wrinkle paint may be limited, you might be able to get awaywith using a base of the black with a top coat of the factory color. Ofcourse, if your interior is black you'll have no worries, mate.

Make sure the wrinkle paint and top coat are compatible. Lacquer andenamel don't mix well and will cause a wrinkle effect that you don'twant.


If you own a Ford built after 1963, there's a good chance you'll have aplastic dash fascia. Something that always disturbs us at shows is thatfolks take the time to re-cover seats, put in a new carpet and adashpad, but don't give the actual plastic dash parts the TLC they need.Paint is a cheap solution to the vexing problem of formerly platedparts. We have taken parts like the dash piece shown and used semi-glossblack and chrome paint. To be sure, the stuff won't look brand new, butit will look better than the sickly yellow plastic that haunts mostFords.


With all the talk of "stroked" engines, one of the cheapest ways to go"displacement up" is to pick up a 351 Windsor for your Mustang or Falconand rebuild it on the cheap. The Windsor can be built quiteinexpensively (locally, the cheap build goes for around $1,500) and willgive you the added displacement of the stroker engines, plus good torqueand horsepower. Though the fit is a bit tight, the Windsor will slidehappily into the engine bay of your Mustang, Cougar, or Falcon.

Perfect PerTronix

So your car still has the points on it, and you're sick and tired ofdealing with the sputtering old V-8. Most aftermarket electronic systemsare great but can cost more beans than you might have rolling around inthe jar. Well, take it from us that the PerTronix Igniter is aninexpensive solution to the points dilemma. We have installed theIgniter on several of the Fords in our stable and are quite satisfiedwith the results. The car idles smoother and runs better. Best of all,the prices are reasonable--especially when tied to the results