Modified Mustangs & Fords
Fiberglassing Body Parts - Pain In The Glass
Fiberglass Parts Fitment Takes Patience, But The Results Are Worth It
When it comes to personalizing one's classic Ford or Mustang, more often than not we see people playing it safe and copying age-old designs like a '66 Shelby G.T. 350 (Lexan quarter-windows, Shelby front valance, and so forth). While we understand these are tried and true designs that are ageless and still look good to this day, it's sometimes a little dejecting to pull into a car show or cruise night and having to park next to your twin. Expressing your individuality in making your Mustang something different by using body parts of your own design, customizing an existing part, or at the least, mixing up styles that complement each other, goes a long way in making your car stand out and getting noticed. Is it easy? No. Is it cheap? No. But, exploring different styling efforts never is.
One way to make your Mustang or Ford stand out from others is with fiberglass body parts. Starting with something as simple as a bolt-on hood can make a nice change, but moving forward from there with valances, bumpers, 'scoops, and more really makes a difference in how a car looks. Of course there's little in the way of boundaries with fiberglass and while it's easy to open a catalog and order up a sidescoop, with a little practice and the proper materials you can make your own parts to take your project above and beyond. But fiberglass parts all fit like socks on a rooster you say. Fiberglass parts are harder to work with you say. Fiberglass parts don't have the same quality level of steel parts you say. Well, you're right-for the most part.
We're not going to lie to you and say a fiberglass 'scoop is going to simply bolt up to your quarter-panel like it was made by Ford and be ready for paint. No, fiberglass parts do take some tweaking and finesse to get them to fit right. They also aren't made like a steel part either. Steel parts are pressed and have firm, crisp lines. Fiberglass parts are made by hand in molds and this human interaction is what plays large parts in how the parts fit, feel, and look. Variations in resin and fiberglass application, curing time, time in the mold, how they're stored, and more all play a role in how the end product will actually fit-even the mold itself and the original part, if any, that was used to make a mold. A 40-year-old part is only going to make so good of a mold example. This is why some people get great fitting fiberglass and others get some that need work, yet they were ordered from the same manufacturer.
Even Shelby had issues with the original fiberglass used in the creation of the '67 Shelby Mustang's profile. They were sanding and fitting those parts 40 years ago too. So don't be disappointed the fiberglass valance you just bought doesn't fit exactly like the steel valance you just removed. With a little work you'll have it fitting in no time. Of course fiberglass can be used for so much more than just a molded part. Besides creating your own custom-molded parts (like a console or a smoothed and painted dash) you can create custom body touches like molded quarter-panel endcaps, creating brake cooling ducts in an existing fiberglass valance, and much more. Your imagination is the only boundary (that and your budget).
In beginning our bodywork phase of our Generation Gap project '68 fastback, we knew we had plenty of fiberglass parts and modifications to tackle on our car. From installing a Shelby-style trunk lid and endcaps, to custom lower sidescoops, a multi-piece ground effects kit, and a one-piece nose, we had our work cut out for ourselves. Our fastback's bodywork is being handled by the crew at Classic Creations of Central Florida, not far from our offices. CCFL has worked with us before on numerous paint and body projects and we trust its work. From stock restos and mild customs to full-blown modified cars like ours, we've seen the company tackle it, so confidence in handling our fiberglass work was not an issue. Check out the beginnings of our bodywork here and tune in for more in an upcoming issue where we'll actually lay color and move forward with final suspension and drivetrain installation, wiring, and more. Don't worry; we've got plenty to cover, including some never-before-seen upgrades we think you'll want to see.
What You'll Need
There are different types of fiberglass, resin, and hardeners available to the end-user. Buying the cheap stuff at your local Wal-Mart might be OK to build a speaker box, but for bodywork that you want to last, head straight to an auto body supply house for the good stuff, especially the resin. A good quality resin will pour like warm syrup or thin motor oil. The cheap stuff usually has the consistency of molasses and takes much longer to dry. You also want polyester resin, though that's pretty much what's sold these days anyway.
For the fiberglass there is mat mold and woven cloth, and several thicknesses of both. Mat mold uses a random pattern to its fiberglass strands where as the woven, as its name suggests, is a weave of strands with a definite pattern to it. The mat mold is easier to hide in bodywork (you can sand down to the woven cloth and see the pattern in your body work) but the woven cloth is stronger. It all depends upon what you are building and where on the car. Fiberglass is very forgiving. You can sand it, mold it, cut it, and more. Best thing is, if you mess up you can simply cut it off and start over.
You'll need hardener for your resin. The mix ratio is usually 15-20 drops per ounce of resin, but it can vary depending upon working temperature. Sometimes you want to mix the resin "hot" for it to set up fast. But remember, the hotter you make it the more brittle it becomes. For a strong and effective repair you need to use the right mix. You might even want to make small sample batches of resin and take notes as to how quickly it sets up. The working environment needs to be warm, but if it is too difficult to heat your whole garage-use portable heat lamps or a heat gun for small localized areas.
Finally, grab some disposable gloves, acid brushes, paper respirators for sanding, an old long-sleeve shirt, and you'll also need a mixing bowl for the resin. A good idea is an old Tupperware container, as you can flex the plastic bowl and "pop" the dried resin out of it to reuse it again. Whatever you do, refrain from using wax paper cups, as the wax will leach off into your resin and cause all sorts of scary issues you don't want to deal with.
are listed below with available Mustangs Plus part numbers.
|Trunk Lid w/Endcaps||PN 00812||$459.95|
|Six-Piece Ground Effects||PN 10079||$389.95|
|Lower Sidescoops||PN 08274||$324.95|
|Front Wheel Flares||PN 08449||$374.95|
|Rear Wheel Flares||PN 08450||$374.95|
|Rear Valance Panel||PN 13446||$179.95|
|Rear Bumper||PN 00555||$104.95|
|Shelby G.T. 500 Hood||PN 00831||$519.95|
|CDC Flashback Fascia (includes||$2,795.00|
|foglights, lenses, and more)|