Wayne Cook
February 26, 2010

If you're dreaming up your next classic Ford project then you've probably gone over a huge range of possibilities in your head. If you've settled on a Mustang for your next undertaking, then deciding which year and model to work on might seem like an easy choice, but is it? The natural inclination would be to build your all-time favorite model, but if your favorite is a '69 Boss 302 (thanks, rub it in Wayne!-Ed.) then initial cost and parts availability can quickly factor into your considerations. If you can afford a genuine Boss Mustang then there is no problem, but if you're like many of us, the cost of these cars has gone out of reach, and so the search is on for something more affordable. What should you buy and build when budget limitations are present? The most common classic Mustang is the '65-'68 coupe. Ford built more of these than any other type. Coupes are a good way to enter the hobby because they are the most numerous and hence cost the least.

The ante for a fastback or convertible has gotten to the point where double is the norm. A '65 coupe that brings $7,500 might cost $15,000 if it were a fastback version in similar condition. But both cars would take about the same amount of cost and effort to restore. Spending the same amount of refurbishment money you'd have a far more valuable vehicle on the finished end if you start with a fastback or convertible. This isn't to say that coupes aren't great cars-they are; and a coupe is a great way to break into the classic Mustang hobby. However, nowadays it's easy to spend more on the restoration than you did on the original car, so if you're going to spend 20k on a Mustang project you need to examine the value of the end result. Let's look at some perennial favorites for modification and evaluate them by year, model, and for parts availability. The truth is that it's possible to make nice modifications to almost any sort of Mustang. After all, love is a subjective thing. Let's have a look at some of the more interesting examples we've run across in all of the classic Mustang categories.

Coupes Are Cool
To come down with both feet on the subject of best Mustang modification candidates our first choice would go to the '65-'68 coupe models. They rank first because of bang for the buck status. The coupe does everything on the ground just as well as a fastback or convertible. Any performance or handling modification will shine just as brightly on a coupe as on any other model. Even six-cylinder cars are in the performance and modification game with new engine and other performance parts available. For serious performance you'll want to start with a V-8-equipped car. While a V-8 conversion of six-cylinder cars is possible, it is an involved process and you're better off starting out with the nicest basis for a project that you can afford. Parts and labor have gotten a lot more expensive in the last 10 years and you're ahead if you begin with a car that is as straight and rust-free as possible.

Fastback Fascination
Just about any fastback Mustang from '65 to '70 is considered to be a good investment. Their extraordinary styling has put them on par from a value standpoint that has surpassed many other classic performance cars from the period. Fastback values seem to have out stripped other classic car benchmarks, and few makes and models have kept pace with fastbacks and SportsRoof Mustangs.

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Famous Mustang race cars were typically fastbacks, so there are plenty of interesting possibilities for replicas or clones. Replicas are a field of particular interest to many enthusiasts because with an accurate duplication you can enjoy the special characteristics of these famous Mustangs for a fraction of the price. A genuine Cobra Jet Mustang would cost plenty on today's market, but a solid replica could be created for a fraction of the cost of an original. On the ground a Mustang with a 428 FE is a Mustang with a 428 FE, and from a performance standpoint it could produce the same level of enjoyment as the real thing. Let's look at some different interesting fastbacks and see why they have such an ardent following.

Famous Clones
The '67-'68 fastbacks are also very popular for clones or replicas. From the '68 Cobra Jet factory racers to the famous Mustang in the movie Bullitt they are a perennial favorite.

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Bigger Bodies
Although many were produced, SportsRoof cars from '71-'73 are seen less frequently than the earlier models. Many of the big bodied SportsRoofs we see are Mach 1 versions, such as this '71 that we found going through its paces on the rollers.

The truth is that it's possible to make nice modifications to almost any sort of Mustang. After all, love is a subjective thing.

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