Jim Smart
January 1, 2008

Few things in life are as thrilling as making something old look new again. When we hauled a '65 Mustang fastback out of the Mustangs Plus salvage yard a year ago, it was a crumbling, rusty mass of ancient steel in the process of returning to its original state as iron ore. Ron Bramlett of Mustangs Plus concluded there was hope for the car and had it hauled inside the company's in-house modification and restoration facility to prove that no Mustang is beyond salvage.

The Restomod Shop at Mustangs Plus is a field of dreams for vintage Mustang enthusiasts, performing everything from paint and body to full-scale projects. Terry Simpson and his team of hand-picked professionals can build virtually anything the imagination can conceive. None of it comes cheap for those seeking an extraordinary, eye-catching ride, though.

Project Reclaim is a study in salvageability. Can this car be saved from the crusher, and what will it take? So far, it hasn't been an easy save. Terry and his staff had to replace the front radiator support, right framerail and shock tower, inner fender panels, both quarter-panels, the entire floorpan, wheelhouses, and more. To make the platform stronger, Terry graphed in torque boxes. When the structural work was completed, The Restomod Shop had to massage the body and get it ready for paint.

During our last visit to The Restomod Shop, Project Reclaim sat poised in a high-tech, downdraft paint booth ready for House of Kolor basecoat/clearcoat urethane in a special mix called Restomod Blue Pearl and a complement of white. Terry was proud of what he and his team had accomplished. Call it the euphoric rush that comes from doing what everyone said couldn't be done.

The two greatest enemies of perfect paint are dust and poor preparation. Painters get credit for great paint jobs, but the real credit must go to those in the trenches who take care of the structural repair and body work. Structural repair involves cutting, shaping, and welding. Knowing how to heat, hammer, and shape steel requires practice.

Before the paint booth, auto body technicians have to ensure they have a perfect surface. A dark guidecoat is sprayed over gray primer and block-sanded to find and eliminate imperfections. Low and high spots can easily be seen in a finished paint job.

This leads us to the paint booth where an involved three-step process begins. With all bodywork completed, we're ready for the white House of Kolor KO-SEAL primer/sealer coat. On top of KO-SEAL comes the white basecoat, which will give Restomod Blue its definition. A white basecoat will make Restomod Blue Pearl lighter, while a black basecoat will make it darker.

Once the white basecoat has cured overnight, the body is ready for the Restomod Blue Pearl basecoat. Similar to the white, it has a satin finish ready for good clearcoat adhesion. Clearcoat is what brings the blue pearl to life.

There was a time when laying down a coat of clear over lacquer or enamel was primarily a high-end show-car treatment. Custom-car builders applied clear, then color-sanded it and rubbed it out to a high luster. Automakers adopted basecoat/clearcoat painting 25 years ago as a means to a more environmentally friendly, water-based automotive finish. What's more, it was easier for body shops to repair. Today, basecoat/clearcoat urethane finishes make it easier to paint a car because it can be color-sanded and rubbed out to the same kind of shine those custom car builders used to get long ago.

For Project Reclaim, we're going with House of Kolor's PBC-36-QO1 TruBlue Pearl basecoat, a unique color pigment mix that gives us Restomod Blue Pearl. The Restomod Shop's Frank Byrd will apply five coats of Restomod Blue Pearl to yield the richness Ron has in mind.

Every body professional has his own approach to stripes and body graphics. There are three basic methods. The most common is body color first, then stripes. The second most common approach is to lay down the stripes first, then mask them off and paint around them, creating a seamless transition from paint to stripes beneath the clearcoat. Terry Simpson introduced us to the third method: creating stripes from the alternate color basecoat. In this case, we're going with white stripes, which come from our House of Kolor BC26.QO1 white basecoat. Restomod Blue Pearl is then painted over our white basecoat with the white being masked over to create LeMans stripes from hoodscoop to rear valance panel.

Where It All Began
When Dynacorn came out with its '67 Mustang replacement body for approximately $15,000 suggested retail, Ron Bramlett of Mustangs Plus wondered what it would cost and how much effort it would take to reclaim a junked Mustang and get it back on the road. That's when he remembered the Vintage Burgundy fastback parked in his private salvage yard. Twenty years ago, Mustangs Plus purchased the wrecked, six-cylinder '65 fastback to use as a parts car. After being stripped, the shell was left for dead in the company graveyard.

During the past several months, The Restomod Shop has been recouping Project Reclaim. First, it was hauled out of salvage and positioned on a frame jig for disassembly. The body was then mediablasted to bare steel. The car needed quarter-panels, a tail panel, wheelhouses, a floorpan, a right-front framerail and shock tower, radiator support, and a front crossmember. It also had to be pulled, worked, and straightened to factory specifications. Last month, we showed the ground effects going on. Next month, we'll cover the buildup of Project Reclaim's stroker 331 engine.